Martin Lee @ Sg
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Laurence Lien on Work and Passion

I first met Laurence Lien at a meeting at  National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC),where he was the CEO, a couple of years ago.

Given his family background (clue:  Lien is not a common surname in Singapore), I was impressed with the path that he has chosen for himself.

laurence lien NVPCEven more so when Laurence stepped up to become a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP). Being a NMP can take up a lot of time if you intend to make speeches in Parliament (This is one of his speeches and it came up to 8 pages long).

So when I found out that Laurence Lien would be giving a talk at a Passion Unleashed event, I had no hesitation in signing up for it. Furthermore, the theme of the event “Building a Better World”, was a topic that was close to my heart.

At the event which took place a few days ago, Laurence Lien started by asking a simple question “What do you do?” to the audience.

The majority of us would answer the question by mentioning our occupation. Work defines us and gives us our identity. The irony is that not many people are actually in love with their work.

Why not answer that question by talking about our family, what we like to do or the causes that we believe in?

In the area of work, Laurence’s advice to us was that we should do work that we are passionate about and that is also useful to the world.

If either component is missing, we will either burn out or lose meaning in our work.

For a better insight, you can read an article that Laurence wrote previously : Finding the True Riches in Work

Laurence then shared with us about his background, which is mostly contained in this article : Laurence Lien Makes a Difference via his Volunteering Efforts

What is not mentioned in that article is that he took a 50% pay cut and had no pay rise for the last five years to do the work that he’s doing now. He was laughing when he mentioned this to us because he had never been happier in his work. Doing something that he is passionate about and being able to make a difference.

In the civil service, his impact is way more limited than what he is able to achieve in his current position.

Unfortunately, many people end up doing work that they are not passionate about because of cultural and societal pressure.

The talk ended with a Q&A session. As usually happens at Q&A, you get both good questions as well as the insensitive (and useless) questions.

Nevertheless, Laurence was obliging with answering all the questions and I came away from the session with a much better clarity of what I want to do eventually.

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