Failing Forward - John C Maxwell
"Are some people born to achieve anything they want while others struggle? Call them lucky, blessed, or possessors of the Midas touch. What is the real reason for their success? Is it family background, wealth, greater opportunities, high morals, an easy childhood? New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell has the answer: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure".
I had faced a mid-life crisis in 2002. I gave up employment as General Manager (Commercial) without any planning and in haste. Besides losing my paycheck, I also lost my resident visa and needed a sponsor to support my application to continue living in Hong Kong. Having struggled to find a suitable sponsor, there seemed no option but to consider returning home to India.
After doing a lightning tour of schools back in Cochin with a view to shifting my family to India and resuming employment at sea as Captain, I returned to Hong Kong and kept hiking daily, which gave me time to think things through. I hadn't heard of John C Maxwell and 'failing forward' until 2012, but luckily I had the genes of my grandfather, the support of my loving family, and a solid foundation laid by my ambitious and visionary mother, who had overcome all odds in her own life and never accepted failure.
I would climb the twin peaks of Stanley Mount (Wilson Trail, Stage 1) from Wong Nai Chung gap daily, enduring the scorching summer heat and humidity at noon, pushing myself to conquer the first hill in 16 minutes. Soon enough, amidst the sweat and dust, my vision cleared. "I am not going back to Cochin and reversing what I did in 1996." I had moved my family halfway across the world from India to Hong Kong, and I didn't want my children to have to adjust to yet another school system after they had put down roots in Hong Kong.
It didn't take long to find the solution. After a week or two of daily hiking, I ended up at Mount Butler Hill (Hong Kong Trail), where the answer I had been searching for was written on a trigonometric post. "God doesn't help those who can't help themselves".
Eureka. I was convinced that the Lord Almighty had written that for me and a clear plan flashed through my mind as I descended the steps of Jacob's ladder. Launch Jay's Consultancy Services and sponsor myself to stay put in Hong Kong.
My business was born and the rest is history. Although we endured difficulties and inconveniences, my family still remembers 2002~2003 as the best time we have spent together. A rare time when I was not engrossed in shipping during all my wakeful hours.
It took 7 years for me to regain a General Manager title (this time in Technical instead of Commercial) and I went on to head the in-house Ship Management & New Building Teams of an industry leading bulk carrier specialist, Pacific Basin Shipping from 2010. I did this for 11 years until retirement in 2020, serving as Director of Fleet from 2012 and overseeing exponential growth of owned fleet from 35 to 117 ships.
I gained enormous fulfillment from leading the completion of over 25 new buildings with in-house supervision, retrofitting 28 SOx Scrubbers, contracting 100 BWTS, retrofitting BWTS on over 60% of fleet until 2020 and managing Pacific Basin's owned fleet to high standards with both operational and cost efficiencies.
But even more rewarding was inspiring the ship management and new building team to deliver their best performance for Pacific Basin, pursue their own career goals and ambitions, and make winning teams both on-shore and on-board the Pacific Basin ships. This work has been a source of everlasting joy and tremendous personal satisfaction.
What we focus on and pursue relentlessly today, without postponing for tomorrow, can become our greatest milestones in hindsight. My 2002 crisis and the lessons I learnt spurred me to work hard and realize my fullest potential and inspire others to stretch themselves to unleash their potential.
I feel very lucky to have failed early in my career. Met with perseverance and relentless effort, that early failure gave me a springboard to future success and even greater passion for "what I do".
If you fall and bleed, consider it your blessing. Just get up and run again with perseverance. Rest assured, you will look back with joy and thank yourself later for failing forward.