Sunday, 22 February 2015
[This is part of the book: “Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - People Power”. Links to the different versions:Online Version in this Blog; Printed Version in Amazon.com; eBook Version: Google Play / Google Books / Kindle]
Before I start, can you describe what a “crane” is? You might describe it as “a long-legged and long-necked bird” or “a device for lifting and moving heavy weights”.
But nobody in the right mind would ever describe it as “a long-legged and long-necked bird for lifting and moving heavy weights”.
But interestingly, that is what our great politicians did for the word “elite”.
“Elite” has many meanings, which is bad because it confuses people. In general, elite can mean “best of anything considered collectively” or in political and sociological theory, an elite “is a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power.”
Technically, both definitions are correct independently, but the problem is that people combined those 2 independent meanings and concluded that:
“People who control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power are the best of anything considered collectively.”
Isn’t that funnier than Mr Bean? Too bad, Mr Bean doesn’t usually talk much, else that could be one of the funniest jokes that he should include.
Now, let’s look at the definition in Chinese, which will help us better understand this. “Elite” in Chinese is called 精英,杰出人物, which means people of extraordinary achievements.
“Elite” has nothing to do with one’s background. As long as you have extraordinary achievements within the group, you are an elite.
Do you think the 6-sigma Black Belt in the earlier chapter is an elite? No, he is not. When he doesn’t even know the basis, how can he be one?
Do you think Lin Dan (林丹) is an elite? Of course, he is one of the greatest badminton players in the World.
Do you think Puyi (溥儀), the last emperor of China, is an elite? Well, of course not. Comparing him with other emperors, he is far from being one.
Can the uncle in hawker centre[i] who fried Char kway teow (Singapore Fried Noodles) be an elite? Absolutely! If he puts in a lot of effort in ensuring that every plate of Char kway teow is always that perfect aromatic and tasty one for all his customers, he is an elite!
And of course, as an elite, he will automatically get his monetary rewards – that is why hawkers can also drive BMW and Mercedes. Do we need to artificially set top salaries for hawkers to be elite? No, we don’t.
Do you think a Michelin 3-star chef is an elite? Well, it depends. Although the chef cooked appetising food and might be very familiar with the kitchen, a plumber is more of an elite than him in fixing a leak in the sink. Elite also requires getting the right person to do the right job.
People can still swallow it if you spent millions getting a Michelin 3-star chef to fix the sink, provided the sink is fixed. However, if the sink is not fixed, and yet the chef blamed the design of the sink for being stupid, nobody will be happy, got it?
Different people contribute to the society in different ways and everyone has their own roles to play. If you are the best within that role, then you are an elite.
Do you think PAP government today is an elite? Well, given the problems with the public transport, high dengue fever cases, SLA Lamborghini, etc. I don’t think they are. But do they have the potential to be? Of course, but not yet.
Whether they will be or not, I do not know because the ball is in their court. If they insist on the wrong definition of elite and self-proclaimed that they are, I don’t see how they can really be one.
BOSS Wisdom: “Elite is not an attribute of a person – it is an exhibition of how well a given person played a given role.” – BOSS
[i] Hawker Centre is Singapore’s low-cost eating place. Most of the great foods are found there.
Sunday, 8 February 2015
[This is part of the book: “Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - People Power”. Links to the different versions: Online Version in this Blog; Printed Version in Amazon.com; eBook Version: Google Play / Google Books / Kindle]
Now you know about SONG. So what is your spectrum of SONG?
Over the years, I had seen people changed over time.
Things that they used to do, they simply refused to do it anymore. Why?
Well, they find it not befitting for them to do it anymore.
Take food as an example. After people acquired certain wealth or status, they started to avoid hawker centre or roadside food.
Well, technically, there is nothing wrong, but why should you restrict your own spectrum of SONG?
The following is a chart that I had devised.
Figure 16: Spectrum of SONG
If you had acquired the capability to enjoy other forms of enjoyment, yet denied yourself of the older forms, what you had done is basically moving your window of enjoyment to the right, there is no significant increase in its width.
Worst, if your spectrum of enjoyment narrowed as you moved to the right, you will very likely forgo humbleness and appear as arrogant.
The truly smart and fortunate people are those who maintained their humbleness while expanding their spectrum of enjoyment.
Imagine putting on your most comfortable T-shirt, going to hawker centre in the morning for YouTiao (油條) and DouJiang[i] (豆浆), followed by snacking on kacang puteh[ii]. For lunch, eating in an air-conditioned food court, followed by Ice-Kacang[iii] as dessert. For dinner, putting on a more formal wear and dine in a Michelin 3-star restaurant; after the dinner, summoning the chef to teach him how to better cook the dishes the next time. SONG right?
Do you know of people who have broad spectrum of SONG?
On the Internet, it was mentioned that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg eats McDonald’s and wears the same shirt and hoodie every day. It was also mentioned that Google cofounder, Sergey Brin, often shops at Costco.
However, one point to note here. Don’t confuse someone with broad spectrum of SONG with humbleness[iv], they are different. A person who has a broad spectrum of SONG can still be arrogant.
So what is your spectrum of SONG?
[i] YouTiao and DouJiang are Chinese fried breadstick and soymilk drink respectively. These are low cost meal that is often enjoyed together.
[ii] Kacang Puteh is a nut snack popular in Singapore in the old days. The seller will typically roll paper into the shape of a cone and fill it with the selected nuts to sell.
[iii] “Ice Kacang” is a dessert made of shaved ice, with attap chee (palm seed), red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, etc. This is a favourite dessert in Singapore to ward off the hot weather.