Add some colours to your life

The economy of Hong Kong has been dealt a tremendous blow by the massive attack of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS). Although the effect of the disease has subsided, business activities have been greatly reduced in many industries. The property market, being already in a sluggish state before SARS, could not escape from the common fate. However, we now understand that the effect of SARS on our economy is but temporary, and housing is the most essential factor of life. As soon as the disease is no longer rampant and Hong Kong's economy is being nursed back to health, a service industry like estate agency will certainly regain its vitality.

The Chairman and members of the EAA, together with the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, the Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Housing) and officials of the Bureau at a farewell dinner in honour of Mrs Grace Chow


It is often at difficult times that the glory of the human race shines out at its brightest. As SARS raged we all witnessed the acts of great courage and nobility of our selfless frontline medical professionals. At the same time we also witnessed how citizens in different trades and professions valiantly combatted the epidemic and its ill effects in their respective places. In the estate agency industry, most practitioners held steadfastly to their work without complaint, nor did they yield to the adversities that were besetting them. Some practitioners went one step further to introduce innovative strategies to save their business, suggesting that there is a lot of life and buoyancy in this trade and that the adaptability of its members to changes is very high indeed.

Here I would like to share with you a true story. A young man found himself a summer job as a door-to-door salesman of distilled water. One day he called on a household with a co-worker and an old lady answered the door. When they told the old lady the purpose of their visit, the old lady expressed regret that she had placed order with another company. However, the two callers were invited into the apartment and offered tea. The old lady then went on to talk about herself and her family. Her husband passed away many years ago and she had been living alone. Her son and daughter-in-law, always busy at work, visited her infrequently and her grandchildren were studying abroad. The young man listened patiently and from time to time contributed to the conversation by telling the old lady anecdotes from his university life. While he and the old lady were happily chatting, his co-worker looked at his watch anxiously and gestured to him that they would still need three more orders before the quota of the day could be met. When they were about to leave the old lady asked for their company's contact telephone number and indicated that, as soon as her present order with the other company expired, she would order from their company. As soon as they were outside the co-worker complained, "When she places order with our company, we will be long gone, and it will not be to our credit any more! You are so enthusiastic in helping others and spending time with old ladies, but who will help us when we are in need?" The young man said nothing and just responded with a smile.

This story reminds me of the popular saying "Inasmuch as you are a monk for a day, strike the bell on that day." If this sounds too negative and passive, may be we can alter it a bit to read "Inasmuch as you are a monk for a day, strike the bell nicely on that day,"and life, as discerned from the angle of this saying, will become a lot more meaningful and positive. I have no idea how the young man in our short story fares in the working life after graduation, but I firmly believe that, whatever trade or profession he is going to be engaged in, he will achieve success.

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore once observed that everyone's life is an album of pictures and how the pictures are coloured is pretty much the individual's choice. Indeed, the meaning of our life is, to a very large extent, within our control and it is up to us to shape our lives. This also applies to our choice of careers and our attitude towards work: whatever it is that we have chosen, whether that be transient employment or a lifelong career, we must, inasmuch as we are in that chosen situation, strive to do our best.

This will be the last time I write in the Milestone. I would like to take the opportunity here to thank all members of the estate agency industry for their support to the EAA and to myself over the years, and I sincerely hope that such support will continue to be forthcoming as my successor assumes office. May I wish all our readers every prosperity and the very best of health in the days to come!

Grace M Y Chow
Chief Executive Officer

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