Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Success Formulae

Every effort is made by parents to ensure that  their children have the best possible start in life. It has long been established that formula milk cannot be the substitute for breast milk in terms of nutrients for  the formation of brain cells and the overall health of a new born baby.However these days there are advanced milk formulae that purportedly help babies to have a head start in their growth : intellectual, emotional and motor skills. Will these babies grow up to be super competent academically and in sports and be able to empathize with what and how another feel with improved brain power after drinking these amazing milk proteins and added nutrients? Where do these super kids go in the future? Perhaps these smart kids will grow up to be super intelligent beings who will invent humanoids that only they can interact with. Nonetheless braininess does not necessarily guarantee a successful life as highly successful people are known to be not only smart, they are disciplined, relentlessly hard working and constantly striving  to do better.
Dragon Boat Race
In her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua had captured the essence of  how she had been making her daughters do piano and violin practice and constantly holding them to high standards and her child rearing ways were the reverse to the American way of  nurturing your child’s self esteem. She appears to be a classic example of someone who has been bestowed on by her parents a Triple Package of qualities that she has described in the new book that she has co-authored with her Jewish husband Jed Rubenfeld. The new book examines the different ethnic and cultural  groups in America and why some groups do better than others.

According to The Triple Package written by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld,In many Chinese, Korean, and South Asian immigrant families, parents impose exorbitantly high academic expectations on their children (“Why only a 99?”). Implicit in these expectations are both a deep assumption of superiority ( we know you can do better than everyone else) and a needling suggestion of present inadequacy (but you haven’t done remotely well enough yet). Comparisons to cousin X, who just graduated as valeditorian, or so-and –so ‘s daughter, who just got into Harvard, are common –and this itrue in both lower-and higher-income families.

The  said authors  opine that insecurity, a superiority complex and impulse control are the three components that drive certain ethnic group of people to succeed and rise. ‘Superiority plus insecurity is a formula for drive. Superiority plus impulse control is a formula for hardship endurance. When the Triple Package brings all three elements together in a group’s culture, members of the group become disproportionately willing and able to do or accept whatever it takes today in order to make it tomorrow.

They also go on to explain that this success comes at a price, for instance, deeply insecure people are often neurotic and impulse denial can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquility, and spontaneous joy and  Triple Package cultures tend to focus on material, conventional, prestige-oriented success.

Impulse control is like stamina. If you ran five miles every few days for several months, you’d build up stamina, which would allow you not only to run farther, but to perform all sorts of unrelated physical tasks better than you could before. As numerous studies have now proved, it’s the same with impulse control. If people are made to do almost any impulse-controlling task-even as simple as getting themselves to sit up straight – on a regular basis for even a few weeks, their overall willpower increases. Suddenly they’re stronger in all kinds of unrelated activities that also require concentration, perseverance, or temptation resistance.’
Prague 2009

The book also talks about how drive, grit  and inspiration are definitely the qualities one needs when one wants to follow one’s passion.

Gates and Zuckerberg-not to mention Steve Jobs –were among the hardest-working, most driven people their peers knew. Obviously creativity also requires the freedom to question and challenge authoriry (which is why China has so far trailed as in inventiveness), the space to wonder and free- associate. But the fact remains that you can’t invent Google, Facebook, or the iPod unless you’ve mastered the basics, are willing to put in long hours, and can pick yourself off the floor when life knocks you down the first ten times.

In conclusion, while we want to tell ourselves that it is hard to succeed unless you love what you do, the real prescription for ground breaking innovation and entrepreneurialism is still the Triple Package ladder. The Triple Package may not promise a meaningful life, it is a form of empowerment, which can be used for selfish gain or for others’ good alike. According to the book, heightened discipline and impulse control plus insecurity and a superiority complex are the ingredients that will lead one to achieve  material success. However I believe that  everything has its price, ultimately the question remains : Should people strive for the Triple Package and still be able to avoid the unhealthy side of narcissism and other pathologies that come with each of the  elements of the Triple Package? 

Dragon Boat Race


  1. This is a book I've kicked around reading-- still on my to-read list. thanks.

  2. Hi Julie Thank you for your comment. It is interesting to read about how certain components are necessary for one to succeed in the conventional sense. But ultimately a balance must be struck between material achievements and spiritual growth.