On 17 Sep 2014, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam spoke about the need to adopt “meritocracy through life” at the official opening of the Lifelong Learning Institute, which aims to raise competencies in citizens, among other things. I was flicking through the news when this caught my eye.
It caused me to think. When we consider our physical selves, do we ever pause to stop and think about whether we are growing? No? Never occurred to you? It’s a natural process, isn’t it? Of course it is! Now, how is it then that we need to be encouraged to adopt “meritocracy through life”? Seems pretty obvious to me, too! Not obvious to you? Why is that so? I’ll tell you why – it’s because you have been conditioned to think not only in terms of glass ceilings but glass rooms, glass compartments. Your teachers, your supervisors, your managers, your bosses, have all put you into neat categories, planned “Routes of Advancement” for you, and decided your net worth to the organization, to the society. That’s bad, isn’t it? Hang on – you’re guilty too! It was you who swallowed that lie hook, line and sinker. You swallowed that lie because it was safe and convenient for you to do so. That is why you stagnated and that is why you need to be reminded about simple basic truths which you ought to know about anyhow.
You need to keep growing. I need to keep growing. We all need to keep growing. Not just in additional skills, additional competencies, whatever you want to call them. We all need to grow in character, to deliberately grow our roots deep and wide, to deliberately build muscle, build stamina, build endurance, maintain flexibility and stay nimble. That is a continuous, lifelong, never-ending process, and it is part of the joy of life itself! It is only when we become more diligent, more responsible and grow in wisdom each day that “Lifelong Learning” and “Meritocracy through life” will come as second nature. We would not even need to think about it. When we are in a state of growth, we will default to the positive unconsciously. We will learn new skills when we need and/ or want to. We will appreciate and love others because they are human beings. We will encourage the growth and expression of the talent we see in others. We will encourage others to surpass themselves and become better at what they are good at even if they become better than who we are.
Do you remember this thing called “WordPerfect”? It existed before Microsoft Word. I learned how to use it because I had to produce evaluation checklists. No, there was no course available on how to use “WordPerfect” at the time. I just dived into it and spent time getting good at it by trial and error. Just when I’d gotten a good working grasp of it, MS Word came along. So, I just had to get myself familiar with MS Word. As time went by, I started to get familiar with other stuff like Excel, and I don’t allow myself to be tied down with statistics telling me that Boomers aren’t IT-savvy. I’ll be as IT-savvy as I need or want to be. You don’t need to tell me how proficient I am at IT, and you are not in a position to decide how good or bad my people skills are, either. I will be the judge of that. Get the drift?
Whether you are in government, in a corporation, run your own business or an employee in some organization, you need this “core competency.” That is what we all call growth.
I tell you this for a truth. You have not grown enough. When are you going to resume your growth?