Thursday, June 4, 2009

FAILURE (or "I Failed")

In talking to many different people in China, from various backgrounds, one word that I heard quite often was "FAILURE". The context was typically something like this, "Before doing , I worked as a , but I was a failure." The Chinese seem to have a binary view of activities. You're either extremely successful (most popular, most famous) or you failed.

I wasn't exactly sure how to interpret this.
  • How long do they typically give themselves in a certain activity before it is considered a failure?
  • Are they better than Americans at getting out of a bad situation? I know plenty of people in the US that dislike their job but stick with it because it pays the mortgage.
  • Is their concept of failure considered a black mark on their career (or resume), or like a badge of honor, similar to how failed entrepreneurs (or NFL football coaches) are revered in Silicon Valley?
  • Does their lack of creative thinking (vs. analytic thinking) lead them to consider activities failures earlier than they might if they stepped back and looked at alternative strategies or options more often?
I need to speak to some of my Chinese-American friends about this aspect of the culture in more detail. I need to better understand if this is a widespread mindset, or just a coincidence that we experienced during our two weeks in China.
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