I am a fan of entrepreneurs. I personally know of a few whom I really admire. Two of them are actually siblings. I have seen how they made it from having little to having a lot.
The older of the two now owns two profitable businesses and I think he is thinking of setting up another one. Originally a seafarer, this person made the shift from being an employee to a business owner after he was diagnosed with a medical condition. For some time, he made ends meet by selling real estate. He later joined a relative in a venture which later became his own.
The younger of the two has always been involved in sales. However, it was quite obvious that his true calling is to be a businessman. He and his wife, who is also entrepreneurial, set up a trading company. For some time, he also ran a small store selling shoes and RTW clothes. He later got into another retail-oriented enterprise, which has since proven to be his jackpot. In my estimate he now earns more than P300,000 a month.
I really admire these people. Truth be told I sometimes envy them. I am particularly envious of the fact that they seem naturally gifted in entrepreneurship. They can easily spot an opportunity and are always ready to take advantage.
In his latest book Outliers: The Story Of Success, Malcolm Gladwell writes about why some people succeed more than others. I haven’t read the whole book but I already have a pretty good idea of what he wants to impart. Here’s part of a Wikipedia entry about the book.
While writing the book, Gladwell noted that “the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work.” In Outliers, he hopes to show that there are a lot more variables involved in an individual’s success than society cares to admit, and he wants people to “move away from the notion that everything that happens to a person is up to that person”. Gladwell noted that, although there was little that could be done with regards to a person’s fate, society can still impact the “man”-affected part of an individual’s success.
Successful people may probably dismiss Gladwell’s assertion that success is also dependent on factors other than just the individual’s skillset and attitude as nothing more than an excuse. I personally think certain factors like family finances, educational background, and other things that may be attributed to ‘bad’ or ‘good’ luck can also influence a person’s chances for success.
I personally know of a young house helper who was offered by her employer a chance to go to school. The girl brushed it aside saying somthing like, “Mula pa nung bata pa ako alam ko na na hindi ako makakapag-college” (I’ve always known ever since I was a child that I won’t be able to go to college).
It’s rather sad if you think about it. Hearing a young person affirm a bleak future, which hasn’t already happened and may never even happen depending on the decisions he or she makes in the present. But, can we really blame her for having such a pessimistic and fatalistic view of life? She probably saw more than her fair share of poverty and probably got conditioned by her circumstance and probably even by her parents that she is poor and will never be anything else but poor.
I guess to some extent I do agree with Gladwell. However, I also subscribe to the idea that attitude can make a lot of difference. We’ve all heard stories of dirt poor individuals who have risen above their circumstances by simply having a positive attitude. Had that house helper been conditioned at an early age to have a more positive outlook then perhaps she could have seen her employer’s offer of free schooling for what it was — an opportunity for a better life. Unfortunately, she was not conditioned that way. Sadly, there are many more like her.
Poor Filipinos generally have a fatalistic view of life. They don’t know that they have it within themselves the power to change their lives. There’s no question their struggle will be greater compared to those who have a little more resources but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they can change their lives if they want to.
This administration has been doing a lot of so-called anti-poverty programs. It claims to have empowered many poor Filipinos to rise above poverty. Has it really? As far as I can tell most of these pro-poor programs are nothing more than dole-outs expect maybe for those livelihood and skills trainings. I personally think a real anti-poverty program should not only be able to open up opportunities for livelihood and education. It should also be able to change how the impoverished think. It should teach them the basic idea that being poor is also a state of mind and that if they strive to be a little more positive and pro-active then the fight against poverty will already be half-won.
Here’s another excerpt from that Wikipedia entry about Gladwell’s book:
When asked what message he wanted people to take away after reading Outliers, Gladwell responded, “What we do as a community, as a society, for each other, matters as much as what we do for ourselves. It sounds a little trite, but there’s a powerful amount of truth in that, I think.”
Government agencies such as the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development should consider coming up with an educational campaign aimed at teaching all young Filipinos about having a positive mindset. The campaign should also cover parents. They too should be taught how to raise their children to be more positive about themselves. If it were up to me I would make positive mindsetting part of the curriculum.