Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why people (not just Pinoys) find it hard to change

But then again, there are 10 million Pinoys overseas that are able to adapt to the world?Unfortunately, Ryan Jacobs wrote in The Atlantic, 9th Aug 2013, that "the Philippines provides more seafarers than any other country . . . but their awareness of ready replacements has made [them] insecure and hesitant . . . a signal that they are good disciplined "followers" . . . but not natural leaders . . . [and] had stunted their upward mobility . . . In 2005, 73 percent were serving in lower-level roles . . . Filipino captains are still uncommon.
Wikipedia: “The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition . . . A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries . . . Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it . . . To step out of the comfort zone raises the anxiety level engendering a stress response, the result of which is an enhanced level of concentration and focus. White (2009) refers to this as the Optimal Performance Zone – a zone in which the performance of a person can be enhanced and in which their skills can be optimized. However, White (2009) also observes . . . the work of Robert Yerkes (1907) . . . in which he reported ‘Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained', if a person steps beyond the optimum performance zone they enter a "danger zone" in which performance will decline rapidly as higher levels of anxiety or discomfort occur.”
Indeed change is hard, and here is how a Christian blogger puts it: “Change is hard—so hard, in fact, that most of us avoid it at all costs. But by avoiding change, we create even bigger problems, such as lost opportunities . . . or sometimes a wasted life . . . One of the reasons so many celebrities keep going in and out of rehab is that they leave out the critical element to lasting change: God. Change is too hard when you try to do it without him. God supplies everything you need for successful change, and when you make changes with his help, you stay changed.” [Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website.]
Which reminds me of the lecture of the Yale professor while flashing two photos and saying: Look at Einstein and look at Beethoven, didn’t Einstein want to look like Beethoven? But he was making a much bigger point: While scores of great men demonstrated personal strength in changing the course of history, there were those who were God-inspired – like Gregory and Thomas Aquinas – or were divine-inspired – like Leonard and Michelangelo.
Meanwhile in America, being "plastic" is taken for granted and so while the economy is doing better than that of Europe, for example, the financial services sector has yet to fully fix the flaws of the system, which at its core stem from greed. And not surprisingly, the supposed hero during the bail-out of Wall Street is proving that he is the poster boy of what is objectionable about Wall Street. And there are two other elements of the US economy that would continue to undermine its competitiveness: (a) the healthcare system, and (b) good-old customer service. Everyone wants to gloat about the advances and innovations in healthcare yet everyone in the marketplace has their hands in the cookie jar. Mandating limits of covered benefits, for example, is very easy to circumvent by overstating charged fees for services rendered; and so limits keep rising “in keeping with the market.” It is a blatant out-and-out fraud.
And I am reminded of the American general manager in Thailand (of my old MNC company) who joined me for breakfast in my hotel, wondering if there was a way for a US [or Western?] company to approximate the "Thai [or Asian?] customer service" – and that was 24 years ago. More recently, I finally gave up on Heathrow on my way to Eastern Europe; and tried Warsaw. And it was like night and day; you step out of the plane and walk right into the departure area – some smart thinking to cancel out security checks and other border formalities. It’s a tiny but a world-class airport. (And their national airline flies Boeing’s Dreamliner to boot. It is a gorgeous aircraft with the bells and whistles to delight passengers despite the early bad news re battery/electrical system – a case of taking the eye off the ball, i.e., the core of the broader system as in an enterprise . . . or even an economy . . . that got the project manager fired. It's called the rule of law, as opposed to tyranny?)
Poland’s population is just a little over a third of PHL’s and their GDP per person is about 5 times ours thus our poverty sticks out like a sore thumb. They are a second-rate European nation though [which makes us worse than second fiddle as in Third-World], but clearly moving up. They still have infrastructure challenges like roads and rails and, of course, politics. And they still need to move up manufacturing- and technology-wise – i.e., they need to go beyond BPOs (although my old MNC company has its European shared-services center in Poland). But at least in customer service, they are already beating the West – from the perspective of business travelers like me.

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