Sunday, February 24, 2008

How To Attract People To Fight The Status Quo

During the colonial days and the war years there were few opportunities for the colonial subjects. There was no encouragement to have freedom of thought, speech and action. Without proper markers freedom of speech and action could easily land one in trouble. In the name of national security the majority, especially the employees/ workers, were not encouraged to question or challenge the status quo. If they do they may even lose whatever little they have. Many were made to accept their miserable survival and existence. Many lived under constant fear in a very stifling environment until the tide against colonialism set in after the war in 1945. Fighting the status quo of injustice is an important motivating factor that can attract like thinking people to work together.

It was under these changed conditions that many national independent movements were started. The more enlightened and brave souls wanted more political, social, economic and other freedoms to do what they like for a better life in line with their culture, traditions, principles, values and beliefs. Our multiracial and religious society can present many problems if not handled properly by all concerned. These conditions threw up many leaders in many fields besides politics. Countries which have succeeded in getting these leaders to work together prosper. Political leaders who cannot work with each other and with leaders in other fields find their people still suffering from poverty and diseases. They have not provided the jobs, housing, education, and personal freedom that their people need. The history of early Singapore is the story of how our leaders in the various fields attracted other like thinking, capable and passionate people to work together to build what has to be built. How did they use the resources within their reach to attract the ”needles in the haystack” ? What are the motivating factors that made these people work? How many of these are still useful and attractive in the present context?

With more emphasis on money as rewards, are the existing motivating factors still valid and sufficient to continue to attract the right people to do what has to be done?

Some specific surveys, specially made to address specific issues may have to be done to get the real reasons why people did what they did. We may not be able to get the true answers to the questions otherwise. We may end with the wrong conclusion that money is the only motivating factor that works. The next best thing is to have some case studies made with individuals who participated in the process and let us learn from them their experience and feelings.

W e need some true answers if we are to remain a viable and strong nation.

The Use of Magnets.

Magnets are often used to attract needles from the haystack. What type of magnets do we need to attract the right type of people to step forward? These decisions are best made by those who have the responsibilities to do what has to be done. Definitely it is not the use of money alone. The Magnets, made up of motivating factors, will vary from case to case. The common areas where passionate volunteers are required include Charity, Social and Community Service, “National” Service, Professional Services etc. Perhaps the volunteers who serve on the top policy making levels of these services should never be allowed to make these as careers. Our Nation, the authorities, the communities, the professional bodies etc should honour these people gratefully and sincerely for their contributions and give them whatever support necessary for their work. Money should never be the main motivating factor for such services? It will be very sad for many if it is.

The Magnet we used to attract volunteers to work with us include :

1. Challenges to fight Status Quo which hindered our progress
2. Help improve the lives of our citizens
3. Do something of interests that will make a difference
4. Widen one’s network connections to become more effective
5. Enhance the effectiveness of the individuals etc.

Will great emphasis on money making can the existing value system continue to attract passionate volunteers to do what has to be done?

Lee Kum Tatt

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