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Servant’s Heart (Part 3)

(If you have missed part 1 and part 2, please feel free to click on them.)

This is the conclusion to the 3 part series, of what God has been imprinting in my heart as we end the difficult year of 2020 and head into the new year of 2021.

Let’s recall the passage from John 13:

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And [a]supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you [b]know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The final piece of having a servant’s heart is that it should point to Christ, and leading people to salvation.

Many years ago, I was at a certain crossroads in my life. At the age of 19, while serving in the army, I applied to Medicine as my first choice.

I really wanted to become a doctor.

Serving in the army meant that I wasn’t fully prepared for the interview to gain admission into medicine. I flunked the interview, and am now at a cross-roads of my life.

There were a few options available to me:

  1. I could try again next year, but the competition would be tougher (I scored an AAB for my A levels, and being able to get the interview meant I was already fortunate, as most people needed 4As just to even get the interview)
  2. I could apply to study medicine overseas, as my parents had set aside a sum of money for me to study medicine.
  3. I could go with my 2nd choice, which was pharmacy.

At that time, I was still a young Christian, and I felt that the Lord wanted me to be discipled and continued to grow in faith.

Being in a medical course meant that I would have had to sacrifice quite a bit of time (not that the pharmacy course is any easier, but medicine would have been one level up), and studying overseas meant that I would have to adjust and adapt to a new environment, and seek new spiritual mentors.

I decided to obey the still small voice in my heart and picked to study pharmacy.

You might be asking now, “Yuantai, what has this got to do with a servant’s heart, and salvation?”

A lot.

In the weeks and months after I made that fateful decision, I began to be actively involved in my ministry, helping out my leaders in reaching out to friends and giving bible studies to younger members in the faith.

I was able to do that under the close mentorship of one of my leaders in church, a dear brother called Patrick and later, another sister called Jielin. (Thank you, if you guys are reading this).

But most importantly, like Samuel, spending time in the House of God meant that I could grow spiritually, and little by little, my heart was shaped and the impurities in my life removed, one by one. (This is another story for another time.)

Someone said that you always count the dots backwards.

Remember the story of Joseph?

Gen 43:30

Now his heart yearned for his brother; so Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there.

There was an “Aha” moment here, when Joseph finally connected the dots backwards and realized that God placed him through all the hardship for a specific moment in time like this.

It was only years later when I revisited that period of time in my life, that I connected the dots backwards and realized that having a servant’s heart will help us to lead others to salvation, and this is one of the key purposes of having a servant’s heart.

As you come to the end of the 3 part series, I want you to pause and start to reflect, if what you have been doing as your ministry, serving your family at home, your friends and colleagues at work and all the people that you come into contact with: does it help to lead them towards Christ, or push them away from Christ?

Sharing the gospel and the good news of salvation is the core bedrock of our faith. And out of the abundance of our heart, the rivers of living waters will flow.

I pray that the year 2021 will be a fruitful year for you.

Most importantly, this will be the year that you will grow closer with God, and walk with Him more.

How can we lead people to Christ through our work?

1. Don’t just preach it, but show it. Just as Jesus didn’t win His disciples by constantly just preaching the word, but by His actions of getting into the boat with His disciples, spending time with them and meeting their needs, we should also win the lost through our actions. This is even more relevant during difficult times, when we can demonstrate practical love through blessing people in words, thoughts and actions.

2. Say it, and mean it. The tongue has the power of life and death. One of my weakness has been controlling my tongue. I can be caustic and sarcastic with my words when I am stressed and angry. This is something that the Lord has shown me and death with, and I really thank God that He has given me grace and mercy to work on this area of weakness. Saying words like: thank you, sorry, I really appreciate you for your help, you can do it, won’t cost us an arm or a leg. But it can make the world of a difference to another person, and point him or her towards God.

3. Serve with gladness. Whether it is at home, towards our spouse or children, or at work, towards our bosses and colleague, or even in church, towards fellow church members, let’s serve with willingness and gladness. It is never easy serving people, and they will disappoint you.

All the time! But if we remain faithful towards the things that God has called us to do, He will bless us with much. And there is no better way to lead people to christ than demonstrating the true love of christ through service.

As I conclude this series, I pray that you will be moved to desire more of God each day. Let the year ahead be one of growing in the Lord, and pleasing him in all the things that we do and say. May the Lord bless you, and keep you. Amen.

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A servant’s heart (part 2)

Today’s message is a continuation of last week’s message, on a servant’s heart.

This is a message that God has placed in my heart, as we come to the end of year 2020, which has been really challenging for many, myself included. We continue from John 13.

JESUS WASHES THE DISCIPLES’ FEET

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 And [a]supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you [b]know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The second important point about having a servant’s heart, is that it comes from sonship with God.Yes, a son or a daughter.

In the verses in John 13, and in fact throughout the 4 gospels, we see the disciples growing and maturing, not just emotionally, but also spiritually. There was a journey from just being followers, to recognizing their special relationship with Jesus. Peter, as evidence in the start of this passage, didn’t fully understand the meaning of servanthood.

And this is a very common misconception that can only be addressed through a constant, close relationship and walk with Jesus. When Jesus girded himself, bent down with the towel and prepared to wash Peter’s feet, Peter responded, “You shall never wash my feet!”

How many times have we served someone, with the expectation that that person will appreciate our service, and perhaps return in kind? Or how many times have we been served by someone, only to feel a little “pai seh” and obliged to return this favour in kind? It is a very “Chinese” or even “Asian” thing. I know I have been. However, having a servant’s heart entails that we need to get a few things right:

  1. Understand fully that we are the sons and daughters of God, that nothing we do can ever add or subtract from the finished work on the cross that Jesus did.
  2. Believe that God has given each and everyone of us the capacity to serve and love like He did for us.
  3. Use our gifts and fruits to serve and love others in the Kingdom, so that His name will be magnified and glorified.

When I was a young Christian, I didn’t fully understand the concept of “sonship”. I believed that I can serve and love people out of my sheer willpower and might.And boy, was I wrong.If you are in an occupation that deals with people (which is almost all occupations), you will inevitably come into disappointment. This is because all of us are fallen; and this fallen nature of Man will always disappoint and let down.

However, if we are connected to the source, which is the Holy Spirit and to God, we will never, ever run dry. The Holy Spirit is like rivers of living water, refreshing us and giving us the means to continue to love people, even though it may be really difficult to do so. In my 17 years as a Christian, I have been through many mountains and valleys. And I thank God that He has shown me the goodness of His heart, and He is never too early, or too late. God is always on time.

Most importantly, God wants you and I to know that we are all His sons and daughters. Wouldn’t you want the very best for your children? Do they have to do anything to deserve your love and showers of blessing upon them? Likewise, as a servant of God, we have to first recognize that we are His sons and daughters. It is essential that we first build a close relationship with Him, so that we will not burn out when we serve Him.

Serving God may be physically and emotionally draining at times, but like the handphone battery, if we plug into God, He will always refresh and recharge us, so that we can find great joy and happiness even when serving Him.

If you are reading this, and are feeling burnt out either in ministry or in your work, I have a short prayer for you:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving us as Your sons and daughters. We know that it is not easy serving people sometimes, and people always disappoint. But God, You never let us down, nor let us go.

You are always there, walking beside us, carrying us when our legs are tired, protecting and providing for us.

I pray that You will refresh us with Your rivers of living water, that we may be filled again, and ready to serve and love the people you have placed in our lives.

I thank You from the bottom of my heart.

In Jesus’ name,

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A Servant’s Heart

As we come to the end of what has been a really tough year, I did some reflection. And recently, God has placed in my heart to meditate about a servant’s heart. What does it mean to have a servant’s heart?

How is it important to us now, and how will having a servant’s heart prepare us for the long road of recovery that lies ahead?

My anchor passage for this message is from John 13.

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And [a]supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you [b]know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

We all know that God sent Jesus, His Son, to die on the cross for all our sins. We also know that Jesus, at every important juncture of His life, had the choice to obey, or to disobey His Father’s voice.

But to truly believe and receive this, it takes a lifetime of journeying and walking to understand the true depth and magnitude of His agape love for us.

The first point that I would like to bring up, is that His love is sacrificial.

A servant’s heart has sacrificial love, not just towards his master, but to everyone around him.

We are all used to transactional relationships, in the areas of doing business or even in personal relationships. There is an unspoken rule that if I scratch your back, I expect you to scratch mine.

But let us look at what Jesus did, when He came before the disciples and washed His feet. This was significant for a few reasons:

  1. Washing the feet of anyone is reserved for the lowliest servant at that time. Jesus took on the lowliest job, as a sign of humility and a display of love for His disciples.
  2. Jesus wants to set a good example that His disciples could follow and learn from. He is the model of a true leader, of letting actions speak louder than words. And He got down on His feet, and got His hands dirty (literally).
  3. At this point of time, Jesus was fully aware that Judas would betray Him. (If I were Jesus, I would have poured the dirty water over Judas!) But yet, He did the same to Judas as to the rest of the disciples, because His love comes in spite of what we do. This is truly agape love.

As a life coach, my business is about serving people. And trust me, serving people is not the easiest thing to do. Covid and economic recession further made this much, much harder.

Like many others, my business was affected too, as people’s income suffered. And not just myself, but many of my friends. Some of whom have to close their businesses and pivot for good.

But one thing that I realized during this period of time is that we still need to love, serve and give as much as we can. Showing kindness and concern towards others, even if it is as simple as a phone call or a text message, is really important. And of course, spending time being present with not just our own family, but our friends and associates, really made the difference.

I understand that many of us may not be at the “sacrificial” love stage yet, at least maybe not towards people outside of our family. (Myself included.)

So what are some of the ways we can move towards being more sacrificial in our loving, and giving?

3 simple ways that I would suggest, to get started:

  1. Start small

No matter where we are, there is always something we can bless others with. When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I had nothing to give to others. I was earning 0 income, and did not have the relevant network.

But I realized that I had a strong, positive mindset that was willing to learn and adapt. I was also nifty with some digital marketing skills, which I willingly shared with those who did not know anything about digital marketing. I volunteered to host and emcee networking events, just to serve others and bring energy to the meetings.

I believe that you have something to give others too. God has placed certain talents in each and every one of us, and you need to bring out that talent and use it to bless others. It could be your bright personality, your beautiful smile, your wisdom…. or any specific artistic or technical know-how…

Use it to bless someone today!

2. Make it a habit to serve, and give

If you will serve someone’s needs, it is the first step to winning that person over. John C. Maxwell mentioned this in his book “Winning with people.”

And to know someone’s needs, you have to be observant to what that person is saying, and what he is not saying. If you can make it a point to put other’s needs before your own, very soon, you will find other people coming forward to offer help. And you will also attract helpful people to yourself.

3. Encourage others to serve and give too!

Once you have made doing #1 and #2 a habit, it is time for you to reach out, and encourage others to serve and give together with you.

Joy shared is joy doubled!

You may even start a movement, to inspire people to serve and give together with you.

#behelpfulbehappy

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Seed time. Harvest.

Many of us may be familiar with the principles of seed time and harvest, but how many of us actually apply it to our business too?

Yuantai and benny

Specifically, in the area of prospecting and trust generation?

I was in a coaching session today, and we were discussing about prospecting on social media, and the process of rapport building and trust generation.

When I first started using social media for prospecting, I fell into the most common mistake that rookies make: moving too fast and too furious.

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

And the process of generating prospects takes time. If you want to have a bountiful harvest next year, you need to start planting seeds now. You cannot expect a good harvest in future if you do not work hard, prepare the land and plant seeds now.

The reason most people suffer from a lean harvest now?

No prizes for guessing: the seeds are not planted 12 months ago!

As we head into the final stretch of the year (52 more days till end of 2020!), let us start planting seeds, in preparation of a bountiful harvest this time next year!

Agree?
#seedtime
#harvest

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The superpower of a coach

After coaching for over a year, I finally realized the one super power that successful coaches must have.

Would you like to guess what is it?

It is to be able to listen deeply.

Yes. God gave us two ears and one mouth, just so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

When I first started out coaching, and in fact, even till now, I find myself being too eager to speak instead of hearing what the coachees have to say. And that has resulted in myself missing out on what the coachee is really saying sometimes. Or what he or she is not saying.

One year on, I have learnt to take a step back more. To “hold my tongue”. And listen deeply to what the coachee is trying to communicate.

The questions that run through my mind as I listen are, “What is the coachee really saying? What is he not saying? And why?”

And this has tremendously improved the quality of my coaching.

Would you agree that listening deeply is the most important superpower of a coach?

Why or why not?

Happy Coach and coachees
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The one big obstacle

Deep within the Happy Man, there are many unhappy areas. But there is one particular area, that stands out…

Would you like to guess?

No, it is not a lack of money, even though I would not mind more.

And no, not health issues, but some what related.

For my closest friends, you all already know the answer. For the rest, here it goes: my wife and I have been trying for a few years, but no children yet.

We got married in 18 Dec 2016, and today, she turns 3…something. But not young anymore. We don’t have much time left, and we both eagerly long and pray for a child.

There are lots of frustrations along the way. And each time her period comes, my heart bleeds too.

She did her checkup, she’s clear.

I did mine, I require a day op.

She tried her best, I felt that I didn’t try hard enough.

And now, I fully and perfectly understand the exact emotional trauma that couples like me go through. It is indeed really, really not easy.

On the surface, I am happy. But deep inside, there is always that niggling feeling, and questions of, “what if…”

Recently, I decided to take action, and we have been doing tcm treatment for a while now. I also joined some interest groups, and decided to connect with some community.

And I realized that it is a really more common problem than I initially thought.

While celebrating my wife’s birthday today, I would also like to use this chance to shout out to couples who may be going through a similar journey now.

I would deeply love to connect with you.

Meanwhile, I take heart and comfort that I am not walking this journey alone. There is my wife, my family and close friends. Most of all, I believe that God is also walking this journey with me.

So friends, if you know of someone who is struggling to conceive, please connect us.
If you are someone who is going through this journey, let’s connect. It is better to walk with support.

To my wife,
Thank you, and I am so blessed. Let’s believe for greater things to come, and that He is always in control.

I love you.

#behelpfulbehappy

#breakthrough

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what is “Anti-fragility”?

What exactly is “Anti-fragility”?
More importantly, why does it matter?
When I hear of this phrase, I immediately thought that it has something to do with resilience and tenacity. But after reading the book “Anti-fragility” by Hassim Taleb, author of “Black Swan”, I realized that this is a very powerful concept, principle and mindset.
Anti-fragility is the concept that constant stresses and challenges in life is absolutely necessary for us to build resilience in our life, and make us stronger as a result. Using the analogy of the human body: we need to be constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses, and this is helpful in the long run as it helps our body to become stronger, and more immune.
How does all this matter at all?
Challenges in life is absolutely crucial to survival, and even allow us to thrive. I have heard people say that they wish to be able to take it easy. In fact, I often wish that I can take it easy too! Yes, even as the happy coach.
If we accept that life has challenges, and challenges are necessary, we won’t waste too much time complaining.
4 years ago, I took a leap of faith, and quit my pharmacy job to venture into entrepreneurship. 1 year into business, I was barely earning anything, and I complained. It was tough and brutal, and I really had second thoughts if I made the right decision. 
Then I realized that nobody owed me a living. Nobody owed me the right to succeed, but that I have to fight for this right. I felt that the one year of struggles internally made me grow up and mature much more than the 7 years I spent in my comfort zone. 
No pain, no gain. Our response to pain is also crucial, to how much we can get out of it. Every “failure” is a lesson learnt, on the areas of weakness that we need to work on. 
Get better, and not get bitter.

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My experience with depression

A couple of days ago, I saw something mentioned in the news about the high likelihood of men suffering from depression, because they do not speak up or seek help as much as women…
This struck me deeply, and reminded me of a certain dark period of my life when I almost fell into depression…
That was quite a few years back in the year 2011, when I was supposed to get married at the end of 2011, but the relationship fell apart because of various reasons, some of which were directly because of me. At that point of time, I blamed everyone and everything, and retreated slowly into a shell which I created for myself.
But on the surface, I put on a facade, of being able to cope with the breakup and continuing life as per normal.
Deep inside, I went through a roller coaster of emotions. First, denial. Denial that the relationship was over and it was time to move on. Then, anger. Anger that my ex decided to give up on the relationship. Frustration that I couldn’t do anymore to salvage the relationship. Finally, bitterness that God allowed bad things to happen to good people. (Okay, I wasn’t perfect, but I considered myself to be good lah)
It wasn’t easy for me to walk out of that dark period of my life. But I was able to because I had people around me who never failed to reach out to me, while at the same time giving me space to go through the various stages of grief.
Why am I sharing this now? This is because I want to create awareness – awareness that depression is real, and they affect people around you. Especially during such tough times, when people are losing jobs, business closing down etc.
That piece of news struck a deep chord with me, and reminded me not to stop reaching out to people around me. If you need someone to talk to, I am absolutely willing to lend you my ears, or even a shoulder to cry on.
I just want you to know that it is okay to be not okay.

#behelpfulbehappy
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Declutter.

Less is more.

Some of the things I have learnt during Covid 19 is that we can really do more, with less. 
Over the past 2 months, I have cancelled 2 credit cards, downgraded my Miotv subscription and cleared out quite a bit of stuff from my cupboard – clothes, books and things that I will at most use only once or twice in the next 12 months. 
I think Marie Kondo is onto something really important – the need to declutter our lives. 
With less clutter, we can see more clarity. This is the same principle for our emotional health, as well as our biz. 
I have coachees who are focusing on too many things at a time. On the surface, they seem to be fully occupied and busy. But as we dig deeper, we see the Pareto principle at work: only 20% of the activities contribute to 80% of the revenue. 
So, what is the take-away?
It is high time you take a good, hard look at what’s going on in your mind, and in your balance sheets. 
Emotionally, some of us carry quite a few baggage that we can’t seem to let go of – whether it is a past hurt, a past offense or past failure. I’ve encountered my fair share of folks like this, and I myself used to let some of these burden hold me back too!
But I’ve really learnt to let go. Do my best, and pray for the rest. I’ve learnt to live with less, and get more out of it. 
How about you? 

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I picked up a 10 cent coin while jogging, and here’s what I learnt:

Value, and the perception of value.

So I was doing my morning run, going by one of my usual routes. The morning air was cool and fresh, with a lingering smell of wet soil after some rain the previous night. 
And then a shiny glitter caught my eye. At first, I went past the glitter and thought nothing of it. But something made me pause and think. I made a u turn, and went back to the spot and picked the coin up. It was a 10 cent coin, minted almost a decade ago in 2011. (pictured)
And it was indeed unusual, as two things immediately struck me: value, and the perception of value. 
You see, nowadays, nobody will even bother to look at a 5 cent or a 10 cent coin lying on the pavement. Perhaps a 50 cent or dollar coin will give them some thought. But a 10 cent coin? Nope, don’t waste my time please.
However, 40 years ago, things will be different. A 10 cent coin will be as valuable as a 50 cent or dollar coin today. What has changed? The value of the coin, and the perception of that value.
This is how it is important to us today: what is our value, and perceived value? The latest headlines in the papers scream: – 41.2%. Singapore is in a recession.
What is more worrying is actually the mindset of many people, who are still stuck in Jan 2020. Even though their value, and perception of their value has plummeted from a dollar to 10 cents, they still refuse to change in terms of mindset and skill set, and believe that they still retain their value. 
But in reality, they just get ignored and left behind on the pavement, watching the whole world pass them by.