“Money doesn’t bring us much happiness… I can’t hug and cling on to my Ferrari forever…”
Wealthy Consultant Surgeon Richard Teo’s final lecture
Consultant surgeon Richard Teo in Singapore who was 40 years old passed away on the 18th of October due to a lung cancer. He has reached success and become a billionaire by following the vision that happiness is in the hands of money. He has been working as a popular cosmetic surgeon in his final days earning huge sums of money.
Yet he has become very disappointed after knowing the disease he has been inflicted with. Then, he has realized that he is left with a small period of time and he has decided to serve the people during that short period of time. He has finally mentioned that: “I can’t be holding on to my Ferrari all my life.” Few days before his death, he has addressed medical students and shared his experience which is very popular in the internet these days. Few lines extracted from his speech are as below:
“I am a product of the modern society. I was able to adapt to the modern world since my childhood days. I come from a middle class family. I was constantly told that happiness could be reached by success and that success is all money. Thus, I was very competent since my childhood. I wanted to go to the best school and I wanted to be the best. I won awards, medals and became the first at everything. You may be aware that becoming an eye surgeon is a very popular field. I went after that and I was also selected to it. I have won an award for using laser to cure problems related to the eye. I got two patent licenses as well. One was on using medical equipment and the other was for using laser but I didn’t earn any money. So as soon as I finished, I decided that it was enough.
I realized that private medical practice will help me to earn a lot of money and my interest shifted to cosmetic surgery as it was very popular in the world. I stopped my practice on the way and started a private clinic for cosmetic surgery.
Unfortunately, people don’t pay respect to their family doctor. Instead they respect popular doctors. People who are reluctant to pay S $20 are ready to pay thousands and ten thousands to beautify themselves. So I decided to become a cosmetic surgeon without been a normal doctor. Accordingly, the business reached utmost success. At first the clients had to wait for a week to get an appointment, later they had to wait for months. I had work on a fulltime basis. People were so interested on their physique. It was such a business. Then I hired another doctor, gradually the number of doctors increased and seven doctors to work under me. We earned about a million dollars during the first year. Yet that wasn’t enough for me as I was crazy about money. I worked in Indonesia to serve the richest Indonesians.
When I earned such a lot of money, I wandered as to what to do? I joined a racing club. Then I started to go to Malaysia on weekends for races. When I earned more money, I bought a Ferrari. They didn’t have 458 models those days. So I bought the latest 430 model. I had a friend of mine working in a bank, he bought a red one and I bought a silver one. Afterwards, we were looking for houses or rather bungalows.
Whom did I associate? I thought that we need to associate rich people. So we associated people who were very rich and popular like beauty queens and businessmen. We had a very busy life schedule going to parties and clubs. I reached the peak of success, I got everything I wanted and everything was under my control.
Was everything under my control? Was it true? In March 2011, I got a backache and I thought that it is a result of me doing heavy exercises. So I met one of my friends to do MRI scan at the Singapore National Hospital. That was to know whether there was a fracture in the spinal cord. My friend called me that evening that there is a change in the bone marrows. I asked him as to what he is saying even though I knew exactly as to what it was.
We did another scan on the next day and we diagnosed that I was having a 4th grade cancer. I was wondering as to how this could happen. By that time, it had already spread to lungs, liver, brain and adrenal glands and other internal organs. For a moment I was thinking that everything was under my control but the whole world disappeared in front of me.
Look at my CT scan. All these dots are where the cancer had spread. They told me that chemo therapy can be given but I will survive only for about 3-4 months. I broke into pieces. I was very disappointed and utterly depressed.
Think of my unfortunate fate…When I was utterly depressed none of the money, vehicles, bungalows or awards was able to console me. Can I hug and embrace my Ferrari and go to sleep? No. Even though I believed that they would bring me happiness, they didn’t.
What brought me happiness during the last ten months was the friendship through inter personal relationships. My friends supported me and helped me to come out of my misery; they shared my sorrow and cried with me. None of my materialistic goods brought me happiness. If they did, I could have shared my sorrow with them.
You all are aware of the Chinese New Year. What did I do during last years? I visited my relatives in my expensive car. I thought it was happiness but for a second I didn’t think that they cannot share my happiness as they were working hard to balance their expenses with their earnings.
When I showed off my expensive car, they used public transport to balance their expenses. They would have hated me. I thought that I could fulfill my ego by showing off them my materialistic values. None of them has brought any happiness to my friends or to my relatives.
Everybody knows of the fact that they will die one day but nobody believes in what they know. That is because; if we know that we would do everything in a different way. When I knew that I was dying, I got rid of all the unnecessary things and concentrated only on what was necessary. What is sad is the fact that we realize and learn how to live, when we get to know that we are dying. I know that this brings sorrow to you in thus morning but that is the truth and that is what I am experiencing.
Don’t let the society teach you how to live. Don’t let the media say how to live because I too once believed in what they said and lived. I wish that you can decide for yourselves and live a happy life. You should decide whether you will live serve yourselves or others. Real happiness lies when you serve others. That was something I realized from my own experience.”