After moving to Hong Kong and hearing all the management horror stories, I had an epiphany in regards to the failure of general Chinese / Asian style education.
When I hear about poor management, I realized I cannot possibly work under such a manager or in a company that is governed by “command and control”… and then it hit me… when I went to primary school in Hong Kong, I was also quite rebellious! I was only a few years old, but I already acted out against meaningless rules and unreasonable authorities! My mom would scold me and beat me up, some adults would say I was a bad kid for not obeying the rules… but had anyone really thought about why?! I finally understand… even when I was a kid, even when I was still very inexperienced in life, I could tell what’s efficient, what’s effective, what makes sense… When I encountered “bull shit” rules, like when the adults or teachers told us to just follow the rules and do some stupid shit. I was always like… “Why?! Why do I have to do this?! This is stupid!! Why can’t we do it some other way!!”
Last week, I talked to my friend who’s a psychiatric therapist and child psychologist. I told her about this, and she said: “Yes, kids nowadays are still the same way… but eventually, they learn to shut up and comply.” And I said: “That is exactly the problem!!” You see, children are born with creativity and curiosity, but as they grow up, the adults beat them into following their sad footsteps… “Shut up and comply!!” That’s exactly what most working adults do these days! The managers are inexperienced and assume the position of an “adult”, issuing orders and controlling their subordinates by rules – the only way they know how. The workers, after years of education, fall neatly in line like the good students they were, listen to the boss, shut up, do whatever is told to… never fight back!
I know how to write this now, but I actually got some of that education in me too! That’s why I keep saying I was lucky to have a great manager, Phil, back at Yahoo! I am the kind of guy that constantly look for the most efficient way to do things, so I come up with a lot of ideas all the time, and I would bring them to Phil. A lot of times, Phil would deny me the “go ahead”, but if an idea is good, I would continue to develop it on my own. And Phil is OK with that. One time, after I spoke up about another idea, and he hit me back down, he said to me: “Hey, I really appreciate you bring your ideas to me, and don’t let my denial stop you. You don’t have to back down if you think you’ve got a really good idea! Go ahead, argue with me… I don’t touch all the data like you do, so sometimes, you know more than I do and you’re right, I’m wrong.” It really hit me, it made me realize my weakness – that I still have some of that bull shit HK education in me! Realizing it, made me stronger!!