I have seen many people get asked the same question, ‘Who is your role model?’ And majority of the time, the answer would most definitely be either parent. It comes as little surprise as we acknowledge that they are our main caregiver, they sacrifice themselves to give us the best and nurture us to be better versions of ourselves. 

Like most of my peers from the millennial generation, my childhood was simple and carefree, and had little worry growing up. In those days, my only focus was to ensure I kept up with my studies and maintained a spotless record in school so as not to disappoint my parents.

As I grew up and took my first steps into adulthood, the immensity of new responsibilities I had to undertake got increasingly overwhelming. With little knowledge about finance, paying the bills, job seeking, and ever changing circumstances of the world, there were many times where I needed to consult my father on how to navigate life as a newly minted adult. Only after countless chats about nerve wracking realities of adulthood, did I realise my admiration for him transcends the appreciation of the endless list of duties he did for me as my parent. Beyond a caring, responsible father he had always been, he exhibits many traits that I hold in high regard; traits that the younger me never would have appreciated. Here are three qualities of him which I greatly admire and would love to cultivate:


1. Grit


Credit: Psychology Today

In the humble beginnings, my dad was the sole breadwinner as a salesman in a company that fetched a modest income – the kind of earnings that a diploma graduate in today’s world would not stand for. It was barely tolerable for his family of four.

For many years, he stuck with an old and cranking Nissan sedan that stood out almost like a sore thumb, one that paled in comparison to his colleagues’ newer, shinier cars. Looking back, he tells me, “Sure it was embarrassing! They were all talking about how old my car is! But I needed to save money for you all.” He thanked the heavens that he was a greater saver as well, as he successfully managed to tide his family through financially tough times. 

Nissan Presea

His car looked exactly like this!

His efforts were never recognised by his superiors though he was hardworking and had to do overtime work on the daily. With the little time available for himself, I remember him regularly attending night courses and seminars in to improve his breadth of knowledge (personal upgrading and entrepreneurship and the like) as well as doing months of research to source for better opportunities outside of his daily work.

Now that I truly understand the effort and resilience that goes into improving one’s self on days where we would much rather take a breather at home, I take my hats off to him!

I am glad that my family has been in better financial shape after my dad mustered enough courage to begin his own small business – as a middle man in the buying and selling of industrial products. 

Though I recognise that luck and good timing may have contributed to his humble success, he emphasizes that self-control and perseverance oiled the wheels to accomplishing his goal. We tend to seek instant gratification these days and often overlook that good old hard work and resilience lay the foundation for more favourable outcomes. 

“I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest. In the long run, grit may matter more than talent.” Angela Lee Duckworth.


2. Thinking Risk-Taker

Risk Taker

Credit: Forbes

Because of my anxious nature, I am pretty much risk-averse and would much rather linger in my comfort zone. What if I fail? What if I land myself in a situation worse-off than before? These thoughts are completely natural for those who are afraid of taking risks, and end up retreating to their safe haven.

What I learnt from my father is that some risks are worth taking if you strongly aspire to make a change in your life, though with some important considerations. In those times, it could be very extremely unforgiving for a salaryman in his mid-forties to leave a stable job with a steady income to venture into a new business – especially with a homemaker wife and young kids in tow. 

Taking such a risk does not come easy without meticulous planning and deep knowledge of his field; but knowing which risks to take and how to do it definitely stacks the odds in one’s favour and cushions your fall – if it happens. This emphasises on calculated risk, and not recklessness.

This trait has inspired me to be brave and go forth with some decisions in my life. For example, deciding to forgo my previous stable job to go back to school, and studying something utterly new to me. It was a tough decision for sure, but as Eleanor Roosevelt says, “today I am the youngest I’ll ever be”, and if opportunity presents itself for my future to look a little sweeter, I am all for it.

Back to school

Back to school


3. Not fearing change

Not fearing change

Credit: Scott Human Resources

This is one of my most valued takeaways from my father. I am a creature of habit and routine; the uncertainty that comes with trying something new or deviating from my usual course is extremely uncomfortable for me and gives rise to major anxiety. 

My father confesses that he has switched many careers before deciding to become an entrepreneur. Reasons for his multiple career switches include inevitable changes in economy, work-life balance, stress and salary-related concerns.

Although these career changes pushed him out of his comfort zone, it made way for personal development and new challenges taught him to be flexible and adaptable, which presented itself as useful in times of (financial) crisis. These changes have shaped him into who he is today but it is also important to understand our own capacity of growth and learning.

As a student, I have not been heavily impacted by the huge declines in economy and job opportunities, but he inspires me to be more open minded and decisive when I am at crossroads; to embrace wrong decisions and learn to make better, more appropriate changes to propel further in the right direction.

A useful quote by George Bernard Shaw, ‘Progress is impossible without change. And those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.’


And there you have it – 3 important qualities that my father possesses which I greatly appreciate and am working hard to cultivate in my journey towards full-fledged adulthood. Who are the people you look up to? What are some traits that have inspired you?

This article is brought to you by Hazel, an undergraduate from University of Newcastle Australia who is currently interning at SNCF (August to November 2020). She is an earl grey enthusiast, caffeine addict, avid reader and passionate about all things health and lifestyle related.