Thursday, 24 February 2011

Golden Brown

It's amazing what you can find on the internet to get you thinking and, hopefully, take you to the next level. I fell upon a TED lecture by Brene Brown, an academic researcher, that discusses the concept of vulnerability and "being enough".

It's a great piece - if you get the chance to watch it all, give it a go. It may well expand your perception.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Keep On Believing

I love 'Glee'. It's fun, cheeky, irreverent, poignant and just bursting full of talent. I'm going to talk about my thoughts on the TV programme in more detail another time but there was an interesting comment made in an episode I watched recently.

It was an episode which discussed religion, faith and belief systems and one of the characters, Kurt Hummel, was having a crisis in this space - he simply wanted to block that world out.

It's not for me to say what people should or shouldn't believe in but I liked what Kurt's friend, Mercedes Jones, said. To paraphrase, she felt that we've all got to believe in something - something you can’t just taste, touch or see. We're bigger than that. The idea of believing in something that can't be measured, that shows that we exist beyond the tangible information put in front of our face. Maybe it's just about trusting in something good.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Year of The Cat

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Or at least that's the Happy Chinese New Year that Cantonese speakers worldwide will be embracing.

It's been quite interesting reading the stir that excerpts from 'Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mom' have engendered. This is the book written by Amy Chua, Yale law professor and self-described "tiger mother". Amy was born and raised in the US but was given what she terms as traditional "Chinese parenting". It is a form of authoritarian parenthood that she has used on her own daughters that is quite shocking to some observers: never accepting a grade lower than an A, insisting on hours of maths and spelling drills and violin and piano practice of up to six hours each day until they got pieces right, calling her daughter "garbage" when she acted disrespectfully, and not allowing television or computer games or even school plays.

The backlash has been very vocal. Critics in the US call her a "monster" and ask "where is the love, the acceptance?". Amy insists that she is doing it out of love, positioning her children for the "tough world", where Western/US parenting creates weak-willed children less geared towards hard work, with less focus.

I think Amy's approach is certainly an extreme one and not one that encourages the development of free-spirited individuals. But I have to say, having lived in both Asian and a US cultures, I do see some things I want to glean from it. I'm looking at it more from the angle of focus and discipline, keeping the eye on the prize, repetition and practice to achieve goals, praising hard work rather than simple success, better utilisation of time and so on.

Her tone and approach may have a lot to be desired but a less extreme version has its merits and we'll see whether this is reflected in more of an the economic shift from West to East in coming decades. In hindsight (and it is pure hindsight), I kind of wish that I'd been given more of a push at different times in my life.

So as we enter the Chinese year of the rabbit, it's worth thinking about some of the messages from the "big cat mothers" - a bit more focus and diligence could make this your year as well.