I had just met up with an old friend over coffee.
Andy (not his real name) wanted to know more about life insurance.
Ever since I start working in the insurance industry, my friends always want to talk to me about it.
I guess people do know the importance of life insurance but always want to learn about it in a non-obligatory manner.
However, this is not a tale on insurance.
This is a true story about Andy and his seemingly ordinary life.
Andy leads an average Singaporean life.
A loving wife, two adorable daughters and a 4-room HDB flat.
He works at an engineering firm.
He sends his kids to the in-law place every week-days as both of them are working.
Their monthly income is of lower middle-class tier
Not rich, not poor.
It is a typical Singaporean life.
Actually, you may be in a similar situation.
Like every Singaporean parent, Andy is always short on time.
In the morning. he has to rush to work after sending two young ladies to the in-laws.
At work, he has to take care of a small team and report to the top management.
At the end of the day, he has to pick up his wife from her workplace, then the kids from the in-laws before going back home.
But it is not the end of the day for him.
Household chores and work still awaits.
It is common to see him up till past midnight, working tirelessly on his office laptop before retiring to bed.
Then, the cycle repeats.
25 hour Day
Andy confided to me that he wished to have an extra hour daily.
Just one hour for him to do whatever he wants to.
He wants to spend more time with the children while they still want to spend time with him.
“The kids grow up so quickly !”
He exclaimed with much joy and pride.
He hankers for more time with his wife.
This wonderful woman who tries so hard to lighten his load by taking care of every seemingly minor but important detail.
“I simply cannot imagine how my life will be without her.”
Andy also desires to share that one extra hour with his own parents.
An Asian at heart, he has filial piety running in his blood.
He hopes that his immediate family gets to spend more time with his parents while there is still such opportunities.
Of course, he needs some additional time to do his work.
His team looks up to him and he does not want to disappoint them.
At the end of the day, it is also his wages (and his wife’s) that enable him to maintain his family.
It seems that one extra hour is not enough.
“I just want to be a responsible employee, good husband, caring father and a filial son”
This sentence struck me the most.
These are the roles that he has to play on a daily basis.
On its own, it is really not that hard to fulfill one singular role.
You just have to utilize some time to make sure you do it well.
Collectively, it is really hard to do all of them well.
Because they ask for the same commodity – time.
When you work less to accommodate for your family, your colleagues will need to pick up the slack.
There is always an opportunity cost involved when you spend your time on any one of your many roles in life.
I tried to be clever and suggested to Andy that he should spend quality time if he was unable to give more time to the family.
He looked at me, pat my shoulder and said
I consider every minute that I spent with the family as quality time.
I am greedy. I want more.
Right then, I understood his wish for that extra hour.
The Invisible Sacrifice
Andy could have taken more time off the family and devote to his work.
He did not choose that.
Doing so will shortchange someone else.
Instead, he chose himself as the sacrifice.
Hardly having any time for his own self.
All these to eke out that one elusive extra hour.
And he did all that without any fuss.
He never once complained to me that he did not have enough rest.
Or that he was tired.
There is something admirable about this man whom I call as my friend.
A beautiful, inspiring quote does not need to come from a famous person.
Andy is an ordinary person like you and me.
Yet his words are more inspiring and motivating to me than any quotable quotes from Jack Ma or Bill Gates.
I can totally relate to it.
To every man on the street, all Andy does is to give his best.
Something that everyone is capable of doing.
But most do not.
Andy did not change the world.
He merely makes a difference to the ones he loves.
If you look at it from his perspective, those constitutes as his entire world.
I feel so ashamed.
About the times, I gave excuses not to attend family gathering so that I may indulge in gaming.
About the many phone calls from my mother that I ignored when she just wanted to hear my voice.
I was definitely not trying my best.
No fairy tale but still rewarding ending
No, Andy will not magically have an extra hour.
After all, Andy is an ordinary, unremarkable person like you and me.
However, I think Andy is enjoying the fruits of his hard work.
He has a loving family who clearly appreciates his efforts.
His boss while demanding, understands his need to go back to his family.
These are only possible because Andy plays each of his roles well.
To the best of his ability.
I decide to be like Andy.
An ordinary person who leaves an indelible mark in the lives of his loved ones.
By doing his best in every role that he plays
I want to be a good worker, dutiful son and a great husband from today onwards.
Have you decided on what you want to be?
P.S. For those who are curious, Andy was convinced that life insurance would be able to take care of his family needs.
He will be exploring his options by comparing the products first before purchasing.
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.