Wednesday, 17 September 2014


How do you Define Success?

How do you define success?
There’s a man who lives in a one-room HDB flat with wife and three young children. He knocks off at 5.30 p.m. sharp daily just so to have the best dinner with his family cooked by his wife. After that, they would take a walk at the park or watch TV. The children have no computer, so they can’t go to YouTube. Let’s call him Man A. Is that a successful man?
There’s another man who lives in a landed property. He usually knocks off at 11.00 p.m. and drives home in his large Lexus. When he’s back at home, he’ll take the leftover dinner made by his maid. After checking his email again, he goes to bed. Let’s call him Man B. Is that successful man?
In Singapore, it’s common to associate success with the 5C—cash, country club, credit card, car and condo. During the day, Man A seems to be a failure: he’s doing labour construction work and is scolded by his superior every day. Man B seems to be successful; he’s also in construction and, interestingly, is Man A’s superior. Both see each other daily, both have official working hours of 8.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., both are thirty-three years old.
And let’s face it: If you were there for a site visit and see Man B smoking at one corner while Man A is lifting heavy bricks, whose life would you envy? I’ll be honest—Man B seems to be better.
Back to the topic of success, how do you define success? Is it Man B who wears shirt and pants to work with one hundred people under him, or Man A who takes instructions? After all, most self-help books say that to be successful, we need to be just like Man B: the man who holds great responsibility and has results in work.
However, the truth is further than that. Stay with the man for 24 hours and you’ll realize that Man A smiles more than Man B. Man A takes one hour lunch break while Man B is having a videoconference during lunch. Man A goes to a shopping centre to buy colour pencils for his kids after work while Man B calls his maid to pass some money to his kids so that they can buy their art materials.
I don’t want to judge since I know people like Man A and Man B. How about you? Do you prefer to be Man A or Man B? How do you define success: Is Man A more successful, or Man B?

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