Results and Reasons

Theses are the two very overrated things that people tend to focus too much about.

Many times, when something happen or when someone make a decision, we ask what is the reason. Why did you quit? Why did you choose this job? Why did you study abroad? Why did your marriage end?

We look for an easy answer, something that pleases our ears, allow us to have a snapshot and give us an indication that the reason is sound. But more often than not, there are so many reasons why things happen or why a decision is made. Can we really sum it up using a one liner?

How about results? Results happen because things happen to fall in line. Hard work meets opportunity. Talent meets recognition. Skills meets demand. Did someone succeed because he is a talent? Because he is hardworking? Just because of that?
While a successful individual usually have qualities that makes him so, we should not underestimate other factors involved as well. It doesn’t mean that we do not credit an individual so, but to know that there is an extent to it. Likewise, when someone fails, bearing in mind this also help us to be more compassionate individuals.

In Singapore, our emphasis in the early days on academics left some disgruntled. They feel that they are not recognised because of the system being against them, despite that they may be full of talent. Then they decide to strike out on their own, and because of their tenacity, creativity and street smartness, they succeed. And they think that they owe this country nothing because they were never supported anyway. But without a stable system and good policies, would all these happen? I don’t think so.

More often than not, people look at the result and not the process. The person who always top their class may well be born smart. But without good attitude and other attributes, he probably won’t go very far. Likewise for that dropout who started a business at the right time. He may be “lucky” to have spotted that opportunity, but he is the one who took that risk and it could have ended up badly as well.

It is important for us to recognise that everyone has their own struggle. A business man, while unrestricted and enjoys the potential to earn big bucks, also undertakes considerable business risk. Civil servants, while more stable, are subjected to many rules and public scrutiny. It is an open market, so if one thinks that the public sector is good, then by all means, apply. Likewise for someone who prefers the high returns of running a business, by all means start one. What we should do as a country is to ensure free access and open competition, so that people can move freely to where they perform the best.

Succeed doesn’t mean that what you do must be right. You could be right but you can also be lucky. Failing also doesn’t mean that you must be wrong. You could be wrong, but it could just so happen that it wasn’t the right time or environment. As someone who have worked in the public sector, private and as an entrepreneur, it allows me to see that we are actually not so different.

There is no need to be jealous of the results of others, neither there is an easy way to understand the reason of why one chooses certain path. At the end of the day, it is the slight difference in our choices and our circumstances that makes us who we are.

Categorized as Thoughts


Hi, I am Benjamin. I am a Singaporean son, born and bred. I came from a modest background, just like most Singaporeans and went to mainstream schools like most middle-class Singaporeans. What makes me different is my unconventional choices and journey in life, giving me more profound insights. Entering a secondary school infested with secret societies in the earlier days exposed me to a different side of Singapore. I graduated well despite having a volatile phase. I chose one of the youngest polytechnics despite having a score good enough for JC, even as others tell me it is not recognised, and I would not make it into university through that path. During my National Service, I also went through a difficult phase of rediscovering the purpose of serving. My university was another defining chapter, spanning over nine years, involving many adventures and endeavours. As you can see, I seldom bother myself with dogmas. I strongly believe in Steve Job's speech at Stanford University. I hope to lead others by example, inspire them to do the same and empower the decisions they have to make in their lives. Reach me at

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