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An Unpolished Gem

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

"I'm stuck," said an ex-client with a forced smile. His eyes betrayed his deep disappointment and frustration. He looked down and shook his head unconsciously, when he noticed I could see through his pretence...

Mr W (name changed for confidentiality) was in his early 40s, married with two teenage children. He was a real estate agent, and his wife worked as a dental clinic nurse.

As a result of the constant pressure to meet the demanding Key Performance Indicators and after sales-related metrics as a property agent, Mr W suffered from severe professional burnout. He never had legitimate vacations or downtime. He claimed that he had been psychologically and physically “worn out for some time.

When Mr W hired my therapeutic services for his mental wellness, he had already begun feeling disengaged from his real estate agent career and was searching for a new employment.

The fact that Mr W had rose from the ranks within the same organisation that he stayed with for more than 15 years, was not a competitive advantage. Except for similar offers from his organisation's competitors, he was unable to find a full-time day job in other industries.

Merely for Money

Being a realtor (a licensed real estate professional), Mr W worked persistently and diligently, and occasionally reached the top sales achievers circle in his industry. Through his hard work, he and his family managed to live a rather well-off lifestyle, with regard to materialistic possessions and pleasures.

I was astounded to learn that Mr W becoming a realtor purely for the quick and lucrative monetary returns. Other than that, he had no interest whatsoever in the field of real estate.

To a certain extent, it was understandable.

After graduating from university, Mr W wanted to improve the financial status of his family as his parents were odd-job labourers. Being the filial first child, his only aim was to give his parents and younger siblings a much better and comfortable life which “they deserved”.

Mix and Match

Based on Mr W’s presenting issues and conditions, my case conceptualisation and functional analysis led me to consider the triggers of his mental suffering were in fact caused by his fear and insecurity of career stagnation, besides his anxiety and doubtfulness on life purpose. Therefore, I decided to assess and review his concerns about job search first.

Before that, I needed to discover Mr W’s real motivation and satisfaction in an occupation. After which, I customised an intervention plan to help determine his next career direction and move.

In my opinion, there are three main aspects and requirements in a profession, “Think, Make, Serve”. Each employment may command different levels and combinations of these three dimensions, based on the nature of the job, and from one period to another period.

Recognising this, I borrowed a commonly accepted concept of, “Head, Hand, Heart”, and aligned it with “Think, Make, Serve” correspondingly.

To let Mr W appreciate what Layne Beachley states, “Put your hand on your heart and ask yourself, what do I want? The first thing that comes to mind is always the right one.”, Mr W was requested by me to complete an assignment.

I asked Mr W to seek information on the available types of industry in the prevailing employment market. He came back to me of what he had found and according to his likings, “19 Types of Industry and Careers you can pursue within them”, as shared by Indeed (

With all these materials, Mr W was further required by me to allocate these industry types to match with “Head, Hand, Heart” and “Think, Make, Serve”. Under my guidance, he completed the table below, based on his comprehension. He even revised the industry types slightly in italics for his personal interpretation:

Match and Fit

Having Mr W’s finalised the first stage of this intervention process, he agreed to proceed to the second stage.

Mr W and I spent some time, energy, and resources on these questions which I posed to him:

  1. What do I want to do?

  2. What I could do?

  3. What do others want me to do?

  4. How will I be compensated for what I do?

  5. What are the risks?

  6. What are the alternatives?

These are presented graphically below for easier comprehension:

The red dot is the “Sweet Spot” where one finds the most matching and fitting, proper and appropriate occupation in a particular season of life. Such awareness is derived from balancing between the known concerns and possible options one could be exposed to and be open towards.

Mr W struggled and hesitated in answering these questions. He declared that he had not ever contemplated his career preferences and choices, except for simply working earnestly for monetary returns.

A breakthrough came to the scene when I enquired what made Mr W feel happy at his work? He paused and pondered for a moment and replied, “When I could help my clients not only have a house they desired, but a home as well.”.

Mr W went on to describe heart-warming stories of how he assisted some clients who were in trouble, or had difficulties in getting a suitable house due to their constraints, conditions and expectations. He also expressed how he had facilitated these clients to improve the home environments and living arrangements.

Mr W shared an episode that touched me a lot.

There was once, Mr W extended his kindness to assist a new client whose spouse had just passed on due to an accident. With his extensive network and connections, he was able to recommend his client a dependable part-time home cleaner and a responsible home health care nurse to look after the client’s bedridden parent regularly.

I support what Mooji highlights, “At the end of the day, if you can have something in your head, something in your hand, or something in your heart. What would you choose?

Hence, with these stories and using the six questions above as a basis, I led Mr W to be aware of:

  • What had he done for his loved ones

  • How did people perceive and connect with him as a person

  • How his empathy, compassion and a heart to serve came from

  • How could he derive his happiness from people’s happiness

  • What motivated him

  • Where his satisfaction came from

  • How could he love himself more

  • What could be his calling

  • What were his strengths and

  • How these assets could be considered as transferrable knowledge and skills

Slowly, Mr W started to sense his next career direction, with reference to the industry types he could explore. I took the opportunity to invite him to re-examine the table above.

After some further discussions and guidance, Mr W realised that he could consider “Health Care” and “Hospitality” under the category of “Heart”. To him, his transferable interpersonal relations, customer service, communications, presentation etc, could be the foundational abilities. But to me, the most significant contributor was that he had the attitude, altitude and aptitude to “Serve”!

Mr W thanked me sincerely for helping him to understand himself more thoroughly and also uncovered the bearings of his next possible employment amid his critical life transition. He committed to doing more research and investigation of these industries and would prepare himself adequately for the possible entry. His determination and diligent reflected what James Clear had emphasised, “You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.”.

Mr W contacted me a few months later, updating me that he had enrolled himself in some Career Conversion Programme which was designed for mid-career individuals in reskilling and relearning. These programmes had assisted him to move into the Health Care industry!

Although Mr W’s annual income was lesser at that moment, he said his mental wellness and quality of life had improved a lot. He promised to continue studying and enhancing his capacity and capability for making his second career flourish and be fruitful.

May this gem consistently be polished and shine brightly!

Train your head and hands to do, your head and heart to dare. Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.

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