If we as individuals, truly live out the personal values that so define us: compassion, care, honesty, friendship and family, we would expect to experience the same in the society we live in. Alas, that is not to be. Our citizens have a very different experience where it comes to society: ‘kiasu’, complaining, materialistic, blame and self-centredness amongst other. This is the perceived dissonance.
Is there really a dissonance or are we operating out of different beliefs. Let’s take the value of family as an example, we all love our family members and we want to give them the best. Yet, there are differing views of what giving the best means. Depending on what you believe in, giving your best can mean providing the best possible start (and throughout the journey) and so investing in your children’s tuition and enrichment classes can be a form of that; for others, it could mean equipping the children early with values of resilience and accountability, and hence allowing them to trip, fall and learn from the experience are key to future success. When the former belief is done to the excess (e.g. sending your kids for multiple tuition classes even though they are doing well in school), it might invite criticisms of “Kiasuism”.
The second point I would like to make is the concept of family. Do we define “family” to only our immediate family members and to a certain extent relatives and friends, or do we draw from the experience of the Japanese who exhibit considerations for others even though they might not be “family” e.g. cleaning up and making the next user experience positive.
Our behaviours, whether positive or negative, are shaped by our values and beliefs. Some of the values and beliefs however, can be very limiting when it is carried out to the excess or when they are too narrowly defined. Whilst the policy makers and government can certainly play a role towards shaping a more gracious society, ultimately, it’s left to individuals like us to really live out our values and motivations. We should avoid the Chinese idiom “人在江湖, 身不由己” mentality which loosely translate to “we live in this world and are often forced to make choices we don't like”. This will be very limiting as it means that there is nothing we can do until the world changes.
Author: Vincent Ho, Director, aAdvantage Consulting
Vincent has led business transformations, customer experience and corporate structuring projects across diverse industries such as government services, telecommunications and media, healthcare, education, hospitality, manufacturing services, financial services, property development and consultancy, security services, distribution and retail.
He is also an experienced business facilitator and has facilitated many senior and staff workshops in areas of Vision, Mission and Values, Strategic Planning, Customer Experience, Work-planning and High Performance Team Development.