DEFG - Desire, Effort, Faith, Grit

I am only at the second chapter into Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich', the contents are so impactful that it took me into my reflective mode almost right away.

"Desire" is a key word which appeared many times from the very first chapter and it resonated strongly with me as I recalled my childhood. I am born to Singaporeans and not born with a golden spoon, I think not even a silver spoon. I am born to a below-average family with my father working in a blue-collar job and my mother a homemaker.

Life was simple and just enough. I roughly remembered there were times the family was trying to make ends meet through my parents' conversations. In my primary school days, my pocket money was $1 a day. Most of my clothes and books were hand-me-down from my cousins and I owned no big ticket gadget (watch was my priciest gadget). My first computer and printer were also hand-me-down from my cousin when I required them in secondary school. In primary school, I would go to my friend's house to 'borrow' from her for projects and playing computer games. When my peers were learning ballet, piano and abacus (yeah "zhu suan" was all in the rage those days), I was learning swimming - because that was one of the more 'affordable' activities. Somehow I never felt deprived, perhaps at that times there were less high-tech stuff and material wants, children were somewhat pretty satisfied with collecting small ticket items such as stickers and books. My biggest deprivation in school, I felt, was my poor grasp of the English language as my parents were both Mandarin speaking. My mother have had very strong hope for me to become highly educated and earn a better living than my father when I grow up.


Her hope and desire were so strong that she would constantly nag at me on every opportunity to buck up in my school work, do my homework properly and scrimped what little household money she had to buy me Assessment Books. Of course at that time I didn't have much inkling about the significance of her desire nor the emphasis on my academics. That's until when I got a little older like 9 or 10 years old, her nagging must have taken some magical accumulative effect (thanks mom) and I started to feel the same burning desire to do well in school. It was also partly due to a coincidental and unlikely motivator at that time - I was victim to this horrid bully in my class who was lined up to stand behind me at every assembly and she would step on my shoes whenever I 'disobey' her. I made myself study harder, read all the English storybooks that my cousins gave to me, scored A in about every subjects (except English) and got myself into EM1 (ultimate goal of being in a different class from the bully who didn't do as well in her studies).

Effort - Desire alone is not enough

Being in EM1's environment felt very different from the norm because the students there were exceptionally competitive and smart. I felt compelled to study just as hard because I really don't want to get 'kicked out'. When I managed to get ranked amongst the top 5 in class and got some bursary award, my desire kind of paid off. This desire stuck with me very well throughout my secondary school days, because in order not to be looked down upon you either need to be tough or you need to be good in studies (or appear smarter).

Faith & Grit

The desire to do well in school continued to burn into JC. At that time I have come to understand better the society's definition of 'being highly educated pays off'.

Singapore's education system has a rigorous filtration system, where only the 'brighter' kids who excel in exams are put into the better schools/ tracks (now the landscape may be changing with the recent change in policy by MOE to scrap some examinations). The year of GCE A'levels, I recalled, was the toughest year of my studies. Among the cream of the crop, I was just a dull gem and at most mediocre. Midway, I was forced to drop Physics as no amount of remedial classes could rescue me (my parents could not afford private tuition even with scrimping as my father was retrenched) and I desperately need to focus on my other barely above- water subjects like Chemistry & GP. In every exam, it's a test on extreme writing speed, thinking and a race against time. At that time we also had to study and sit for the useless SAT (for English and Maths). I relied on my desire to enter NUS / NTU to pull myself through because there was no turning back (unlike diploma, a bad A'level cert was not much of a use then). I put full faith in myself during exams but no 100% confidence, as I have never once scored an 'A' in those internal exams. So my name did not appear on any of the top-scorers board in JC before... but it only needed to for that one time (A'level)... and it did. I passed with flying colours, even my form tutor was shocked and I successfully entered uni. It's a combination of effort, faith and grit and maybe a sprinkle of luck. Thus, I believed that in Singapore, you don't have to be from privileged family in order to excel in school. 起跑点或许有些不一样,但后天的努力还是能让你实践学业目标的。

On completion of my A levels, I had the option of taking up MOH scholarship which was supposedly the 'safest route'. However, I did not take it. I felt I have had enough of school life (including a stint of relief-teaching for 6 months) and being bonded as a teacher is not appealing to me. I wanted to experience the outside corporate world after I have graduated. So I chose a course, which did not have any scholarship offer then, relied on bank tuition loan, bursaries and side income of tuitions to survive the 4 years.

When I have desires, I won't take the easiest route out because I know the easiest route won't get me where I truly wanted to go. I think I have fulfilled my mother's desire, albeit not the full expectations of me.


Through multiple stories from the book, stories from people around us and my own story which I have shared, it is fact that we are shaped by our past experiences and motivated by our desires in life.

Our desire can start off as a dream and when the desire burned strongly enough, it can ignite something in us to transmute that thought into reality. Mind is a wondrous thing - it gives us our desire to win, our desire to be free, our desire to invent wonder, our desire to perform, our desire to be rich. Our desire will then condition our behaviour towards 'playing to win' instead of  'playing not too lose'.

Guilty to say, I am almost at a cruising phase now. My desire to win has stopped burning some time ago. My desire for financial freedom is strong but I think it is not strong enough. This could also be a wake up call for me. My current goal is to have my own property in a few years.

What's coming next...

H stands for Hanging on (perseverance)

Check out my Blog Archives here for previous posts


  1. Rainbow girl,

    Now this is what I call peeling the onion!

    Good stuff.

    Infinitely more interesting than brandishing bronze-smell numbers anytime!

    Now we can get to know you better. To understand the context why you write the way you write for future posts ;)

    Thanks for widening your Johari window to us!

    Oh! I deleted one of your comment to my post by mistake.

    Its the one where you were doing so well by listing desires, dreams, visions, that sort of thing, but you had to fxxx-up the end game by adding "planning" at the end...

    This post and your next post is about the "wielder" - all the grey and messy stuffs. Can't quantify or define precisely into 2 decimal places ;)

    "Smart" goals and planning are mere tools - like swords, spears, or shields.

    You may want to separate the qualities about the wielder and tools separately in the beginning.

    Once you have crossed the river, it does not matter whether you mix or separate them anymore as you would have your 心中剑 then。

    P.S. Yes, having your own place at age 35 is great! Can bring boys home anytime. Now that's freedom and independence!!!

    1. Hi SMOL,

      Now you also knew why I wrote the way I wrote in my past posts. With all my 'bad England' haha...
      Ok I will post my comment again later.

      Being a wielder - yes, we first need to know WHY we wield and then HOW we wield (with the tools).

      May you enlighten me on what you meant by "the river"?

      P.S: Hey hey objective salah. I want to rent and be a landlord ok?

    2. Rainbow girl,

      Money face you!


      Woman too "successful" may frighten away good but timid men...

      But then again, you'll also attract those "eat soft rice" guys who would love for you to take care of them ;)

      Don't have stamps over your eyes OK?

      The river analogy is like our journeys towards financial freedom.

      To cross the river, different wielders will find and use different tools that suit them the best.

      Some will try to find bridge to walk across (leverage on others).

      Some will walk a big detour to find a shallower part of the river to wade across and detour back. (No in a hurry; safety first!)

      Some will build/buy a sampan and row across (thinking soldier).

      Some will do the mancho man way and swim across (risk taker).

      Once we crossed the river, we no longer have any need for the tools that got us across the river anymore.

      Once we have crossed the rive, does it matter HOW we got across?

      Those debating which method to cross the river are those who are still stuck on the opposite rive bank ;)

    3. Hi SMOL,

      Thank you for your river analogy. It is as entertaining as it is enlightening! :)

      Many are trying to find that ONE secret method to get across but there's no secret method really. 八仙过海,各显神通 - the HOW only the ones who have crossed know.

      Why must good but timid men, not good and bold men?
      The real "successful" women are the ones behind the financially independent and successful men. Challenge me on that heh.

    4. Rainbow girl,

      I story teller mah. If not how to get girls?

      Good and bold men other bitches already got their claws in them.

      You're already behind the curve by letting on your goal is to have your own place by 35... (Telling the world you single and not in a relationship currently)

      Cannot get angry as you did ask me to challenge you hor!

      I agree with you that the real "successful" women are those who QUIETLY stand behind successful men ;)

      These women would know better than to "shepherd" themselves with goals and planning... Such tools are better used on the men!

      "Lao gong, you can do it!"


    5. My relationship status might change, who knows. But I just prefer goals with a more definite and controllable outcome. ;)

      Good, bad, bold, timid - they are just subjective characteristics. Like the warrior, monk, farmer and the in-betweens...

  2. hey amazingly, you sound a lot like me. Maybe I am slightly older coz I got 80cents for pocket money as a kid. I was a highly motivated child while studying - I was in a school with a lot of richer kids and they had ways of making you feel smaller. Similarly, studying was my way of showing them that I was smarter than them. it fizzled out after graduation and never did translate to a burning desire for ambition or power. I think that is the problem when these goals are outward-focus since it wasn't really me to begin with. Good step to owning own property!

    1. Hi Mrs Spoon,

      Thanks for reading!

      I guess it fizzled out when we start to get comfortable with how we are getting on in life. So there's no motivation / desire for the next big thing - why go through more 'suffering' right?

  3. Hi Rainbow Girl, I like the way you said 起跑点或许有些不一样,但后天的努力还是能让你实践学业目标的。

    1. Hi Sweet Retirement,

      I think we can extrapolate that to financial achievement too, e.g. those that started off earning lesser than their peers but desire to be financially independent and worked on it.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Shit happens and I lost my low-hanging fruits

Letters of Administration / Probate - DIY application

Success in life

Reflections for year 2023

Weekend brain food IX


The contents of this blog are author's personal opinions and do not constitute advice to hold, buy or sell any securities, commodities or assets mentioned. I do not guarantee the accuracy and reliability of any information provided, and shall not be liable for any losses incurred from reading my posts or using the materials herein. This blog may contain affiliate links to external sites.