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Humble Pie and Crab Bucket


I was asked “Which parent do you need approval more from the most?”. My father. “What do you need to be to get that approval?” Successful. “Besides that, what else do you need to be?” Humble. What the heck? that just slipped out of my mouth as I am writing this post.

For years I struggles with this dilemma. I needed to be successful and humble at the same time. Be amazing but be small. Don’t tell yourself you are amazing because it might get to your head. Imagine a tree trying to grow in two different directions. What you get is a twisted explosive mess of limbs, leaves, bark and roots. That was my old self. I would not wish this for anyone. Enemies included.



A book I illustrated for Ghost Writer, a show encouraging children to read.


To be fair, my father’s expectation is a widely accepted Chinese philosophy for thousands of years. Open-air latrines near food stands is also a thousand year tradition. Traditions are not always right. The wise old Chinese Mandarins are afraid of being too successful because if you don’t take proper precautions to hide that then sometime in the future someone somewhere is somehow going to usurp your ass and bite your nuts off. That is a lot of assumptions. It’s the story of a bucket of crabs. No one escapes because the top crab always gets dragged down as it nears the lip.

My question is, do you want to stay in a bucket or you want to grow a pair of balls and wings and get the f out of that dump full of smelly crabs? The only way to succeed and keep succeeding is by UPLEVELING. When you believe in yourself you will finally have the strength to escape the small people around you. No harm can reach you. You are gliding through the pink clouds while they are wondering why is there suddenly more room around them.


The book’s animated cover. (Ghost Writer 2019)

I recently saw my ex-coworker from my Nuclear Engineering days. He looks exactly the same and was walking back from our usual Friday lunch spot. Meanwhile in the nine years since I left, I got my MBA, got my PEng, graduated from Film School, got married, got divorced, met my current wife, made seven films, got into film festivals, directed two stage shows, raised thousands of dollars for charity, did stand up comedy, bought a motorcycle, had a beautiful baby girl, had an art show, delivered several keynote speeches, said goodbye to my mother by her side…

While this coworker’s life may not be all loom and gloom. I know I have Upleveled way beyond his field of vision. How can he reach me and drag me down? My sister tells me that I can just focus on my own thing and do not pay attention to what others say or think. I disagree. We are social beings. We give a damn about others. Especially when we were children. Especially when they are whom we trust. When we are constantly made to feel we are not good enough as kids; When we are not allowed to celebrate our successes; When we have to hide our achievements so others won’t get jealous. This creates a mental block to true success. This blockage takes years or a lifetime to clear.

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The conversation we have with ourselves will eventually become our truth.  So today, on my forty-second birthday I finally say F**K YOU to being humble. The negative effects of  self-deprecating ALWAYS outweighs that of being Proud of who you are. I tell the world how great I am, because I was born great. As we all are. If you have a cool story to tell, I am one of the top ten percent of people in the world who can tell it well because I have put in my 10,000 hours into visual storytelling. I am not being boastful, I am being truthful. I AM the next Akira Kurosawa / Stanley Kubrick. The world just doesn’t know it yet. But I do. And that is what it takes. Believing in one’s self and not being shy and meek about it.


Zen working with his pal Martin on a show in Canada.

When baby Mabel grows up she will have no inhibitions because her old man tells her all the time: “Hey baby girl yo! That bucket you are sitting in, that is just where we used to bathe you, You can fly to the moon girl!”

What are some of your limiting beliefs? How did you shed the false stories you’ve been told? How can you be more proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved? Please share in the comments section below.

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