Saturday, January 09, 2010
The Real Secrets of Success-The Asian Way!
Two days ago I was driving my three daughters to school in the morning when the subject of the three things that the State of Michigan needs to do if it is to get out of the economic limbo that it finds itself in came up on NPR radio. A number of suggestions were given but one clear point opened my girls’ eyes. Competition! They came to understand that a few decades ago the children in Michigan were “competing” with their peers in Ohio and Indiana. Today they not only have to compete with peers all across the USA but also those in Asia! A lot of US jobs are being outsourced to Asia and Latin American countries so not only must my girls in Michigan study subjects and acquire skills that will give them an edge over their peers in the neighboring states but also in Asia! This then led me and my girls to start asking ourselves what it was that the Asians were doing that was giving them an advantage over the Americans.
This is what we agreed on. The real secret of the Asian’s success is not cheap labor. Its not apparent disregard of copyright laws and general rules that sometimes make it “hard” to get ahead in economics in US and other countries. Its not dictatorship or authoritarianism in the Asian countries. The real secret of their success is mind-numbing hard work, discipline and sacrifice in many sectors of their lives!
Anyone in Asia who wants to succeed in life today be it in academics, business or politics must be pragmatic. They understand that luck may only take you so far but it will take sheer practicality to keep you at the top and multiply your success. As much as many countries of the world would like to admire the United States of America and emulate her success strategies, scholars are pointing out that the real success stories that developing nations ought to look at and learn from are the Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and China. The pragmatic way of life in these countries has not only seen them climb to the top of the economic ladder but also has ensured that their culture is not polluted by practices that erode the very fabric of their success.
Studies are showing that generations in these Asian countries have been moving steadily from poverty to wealth through sheer hard work. They have been moving from being unskilled to highly-paid professionals in very lucrative fields. They have also managed to preserve the essential ingredients of their social life by preserving their cultural values and resisting temptations to ape the West. It is remarkable to observe that many Asian generations that have migrated to the US still hold on to their cultural beliefs. It is little wonder that many of them have avoided going to jail and instead made strides in the business and academic worlds. This has in turn resulted in them achieving a higher life expectancy than even the Americans. They have also taken a strong hold on the crucial sectors of science and technology that are pivotal to the economic growth of any country. The end result is that the Americans now need the Asians. They have no choice. Wish the same could be said about Africans and other races.
One other aspect of life that other people can learn from the Asians as far as their pragmatism is concerned is how they prioritize their “issues” and “headlines”. Unlike the American and other societies, Asians don’t waste their valued time and resources debating and fighting over issues of little or no significance like what the first lady wore on that occasion or whose turn it is to “eat” or who should have more powers that who.
Asians laugh at Americans and other nations when they see what we are wasting our time on. The Asian media does not spend weeks and months scrutinizing ones personal life. That is none of their business. It doesn’t help their economy and politics to mature. No! It does not. That is not to say that those matters are not there in their countries. They are there but they are no one’s priority and they are not of any value to the general economic growth of their society given the fact that they have daunting economic and scientific challenges.
Instead of channeling their energy, time and resources on non-issues they focus on science, technology, the economy and other more valuable issues. The Asians are also not polarized along tribal or political lines. They subscribe to various political beliefs but they do not let their politics to get in the way of economic advancement. Wish the “red” and “blue” states of the US could borrow a leaf from them.
Another thing that the Asians have done very well is choosing to build economic empires around the world as opposed to the military empire that the US is trying to build. The Asians understand that when you build factories, businesses and research institutions around the world you not only create jobs and practical income for the people in those countries but you also build lasting friendships and relationships. The US is spending billions of dollars on military might around the world.
Unfortunately this effort is not only draining the US economy but it is also resulting in unwarranted destruction of lives and property and the loss of goodwill in those countries where this is happening. One wonders how long its going to take the US to realize that their approach and strategy is not only expensive but also bound to fail since they cannot sustain it.