Some years ago, my wife and I watched The Family Man on Channel 5. It was a heart-warming show. What was heartening was that the children were also watching it. The story was about choice – to put career or family first?
Given a choice, I have always put family before career. There was one time I switched from a promising career in an American bank to teach at a polytechnic. I was trading dollars for more time with my wife and our first-born daughter. You see, you can hug your dollars but they won’t hug you back. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. The time I invested in my daughter is paying big dividends. She has been happily married for two months now, but Daddy is always on her mind. And the feeling is mutual.
Another time, I walked away from a great job in a big British bank to do work in a non-profit organisation. This time the call was to do more meaningful work – I was in that stage of my life when I was moving ‘from success to significance’.
People have said I am an affable chap, easy to get along with. Indeed, in 2007, I became totally CPFable! Soon after I attained the big 55, I retired from my full-time job as a general manager in early 2008, after obtaining the appropriate blessings from the appropriate people as to how I would make another change in my life. This has been my practice regarding my work at any particular point in time – to get the buy-in from all my important stakeholders, i.e. my wife and three children.
My mother used to say of my career switches, “One step forward, two steps back!” She would have been entirely right if my career switches had been benchmarked against my bank accounts. She would have been entirely wrong if my career switches had been measured against the emotional bank accounts I have with my immediate family members. The choices we made many years ago have led to the consequences we see and enjoy now with a great deal of satisfaction. We have no regrets whatsoever.
I am now a one-man SME – I Speak, I Marry and I am an Encourager. In a typical week, I will have at least one speaking engagement as a motivational speaker; I meet couples to prepare them for marriage and officiate at their wedding ceremony as their licensed solemniser, and I go to the office as a part-time Human Resource consultant mentoring younger colleagues.
Many a time, my colleagues have commented that I look so happy and fulfilled. One even remarked that there is a certain glow about and around me. Why not? Choices create consequences. In my life, I have made many choices, some alone but many with my wife since I value her wisdom and also because many decisions we make as husband and wife and as parents to our three beautiful children. We have seen the fruits of our love (not labour!) and are very proud of what we see. We are quite sure the nation will be proud that we have helped to nurture three fine young adults as worthy citizens of Singapore.
People who know me know that I wear many hats – boss, husband, father, friend, teacher, mentor, speaker and solemniser, even. Actually, I am a model! The runway I walk is not 10 metres long. My runway is longer than a marathon run – it is my life’s journey.
Former General Manager of TOUCH Community Services, Simon Sim has addressed staff of ministries, statutory boards, corporations as well as parents in various schools on strengthening family relationships. He is also the author of The Family CEO: Building A Happy and Successful Family.