Are we afraid of competition? …are we, afraid to lose?
People are pretty vocal about this, be it in the workplace to “foreign talents” or in education to the “elites”.
Well, if there is something lacking in the new generation… it is the taste of failure, and then bouncing back from it. We have been riding on the coattails of success for way too long. Our aspirations have grown tremendously in the shadows of a national ability to meet them.
We’ve been protected from a lot of competition. Even with fiery words from nationalistic ministers of other countries, few seem to really step on this nation’s tail.
We have indeed been successful at shielding our people from competitoion— maybe too successful. Maybe now when we do fail, we forget the bitter taste of it!
Plenty of challenges await us. Countries north and south of us are growing at rates we can never beat. Indonesia has made no secret of its ambition to rival Singapore (an example: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/05/21/deepwater-port-near-batam-set-rival- singapore.html), while Malaysia’s Iskandar Development Region could very well turn from a “cooperation zone” into a “rival” if we are not careful.
Failure is a toxic topic. So should we cushion failures?
My thought is this: no.
Everyone must have a taste failure in one form of another. Failure is subjective and comes in all forms. When one is younger, failure manifests itself as not being to get a desired course in university or not being able to win the heart of one’s “other half”. When older, some people may not be able to cope emotionally and seek professional help.
Yet, when I read about one NCMP (Lina Chiam actually) raising the question of “psychological comforting” (Parliament, 9th July 2014: “What measures has MOE put in place to deal with the potential psychological effoects of sportsmen/women losing to the Singapore Sports School) this raised to me a big question: can our children take failure?
Of course, we could take the populist stance and claim that everyone will get the best care needed. You might as well say we are wrapped in layers and layers of bubble wrap. Yet, no amount of bubble wrap will save anyone upon arriving at the workforce, business or indeed, even politics.
One can try to blame the G infinitely or kick up an enormously big fuss, but just blaming someone for the failure can solve nothing. The emotional consequence is real, but one must learn to manage it on ones own.
We need to get people to think about failure as a stepping stone and learning point.
Emerge braver, emerge smarter, emerge stronger about it and move on.
Not happy with the influx of foreign talent? Find a way to outwit them: always find a way to command a better salary and wield more power. Failed at a business venture? Welcome to the bloodthirsty world of capitalism. Failed at a relationship? Good riddance: there are many other fish in the pond.
We need to learn how to fail, and cushioning students through policies is the last thing this nation needs. Not everything can be solved by the work of others.
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