Read this inspiring story about Brian Lim’s journey from a “bottom feeder” misfit to a space industry kickstarter.
The systems around us, even the ones that nurtures and protect us, can limit us from reaching our full potential. The Singaporean education system Brian grew up in is streamlined to sort the talented from the “bottom feeders” from a young age, presumably to better tailor their education to maximise their ability to slot into productive societal roles. Unfortunately such efficient systems simply cannot cope with mavericks like Brian.
Societally, Singapore is also very conformist and conservative. It is difficult to think, question or work outside the accepted norms. All this just make Brian’s struggle all that more impressive and inspiring.
Similar limiting systems exist inside the world of business and within organisations too. They limit strategic options available to the organisation and divergent growth; mainly in the name of minimising risk and controlling change.
These systems work well because they play into our need for comfort. We like the familiar, and we are inclined to assume that everything will stay the same forever and ever. We believe that if we maintain the status quo by servicing these systems, we will not be caught up by any nasty surprises. Which as we all know is not quite how reality works.
We are probably not that safe inside our online social systems either. Just like we censor ourselves in meat space and avoid talking about sensitive subjects, we do the same in virtual space too. See this article on Engadget.
Reinventing or rebooting these systems may be too hard though. I think we are generally too comfortable. At best we can hope for change over multiple generations of gradual mindset evolution; which doesn’t help those who don’t fit in right now. I am not surprised that Brian left Singapore and never looked back. Go you Brian!
- What systems are holding you back? Can you work around it? Can you leave those systems?
- What systems are limiting your organisation? Can you start to change it?
- What is more important to you? Changing the system or growing to your fullest potential?
- Can you combine the two?