The Power of 'Tiger Mothers'
Talk shows have been abuzz about writer Amy Chua’s recent essay in the Wall Street Journal on “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”
Those who read her companion book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” were especially appalled about the screaming, control and insults used by Chua to raise her daughters Sophia and Lua.
Some psychologists say the constant emphasis on work and unquestioning response to directions border on child abuse. Chua counters that she is proud of the current success of her daughters and point to the fact that China surpasses America in many areas of academic performance and productivity. Would we as a society be better off if we adopted the Chinese style of parenting as Chua suggests?
While that thesis is open to debate, it bears consideration that some work attitudes and practices typical of Chinese culture and parenting might be useful at work.
Team work: The overall success of the team is more important than individual success. Personal ambition and interests should sometimes be subjugated for the good of the many.
Practice: Repeat an activity until it becomes second nature. Seek help if needed to become more adept at a task, to make an activity second nature or at least less tedious or daunting. Do not give up and delay pleasure if that is what is needed for success.
Seek (and act on) feedback: Ask the people who matter (boss, customers, colleagues) how you are doing and then correct course accordingly. Criticism can be hurtful but constructive criticism can always be used to improve performance.
Aim to be the best always. In this competitive global market it is not sufficient to be good; one must have a competitive advantage. Chua explains that Chinese mothers teach their kids hard work and giving up fun temporarily for long term success, because in the real world success comes only through superior knowledge, acquisition of skills and the habit of hard work.
“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work hard. If done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something -- whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet -- he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun.”
While the parenting style of “Tiger mothers” can be debated, deliberate adoption of some of the practices might well make for success in business.