I once talked about finding the deep concepts in our culture that has no English equivalent and struggled with it. I thought that being famous for “Kiasu” as a concept was nothing to be proud of. It is interesting when I realised that Seth Godin picked up on this concept when he was writing The Practice.
Of course, kiasu is actually about fear and insufficiency. And it couldn’t exist if we trusted ourselves enough to know that we’re already on a path to where we seek to go.
If you are using outcomes that are out of your control as fuel for your work, it’s inevitable that you will burn out. Because it’s not fuel you can replenish, and it’s not fuel that burns without a residue.Seth Godin
Actually, I was a bit sad; not just because this negative term describing part of our culture has spread but because what Seth said here isn’t far from truth. We all need to be taught to burn fuel that we can replenish, that is within our control, that we can use wisely.
Like fossil fuels, that focus on outcome for our society might have helped us for a while. Much of modernity was built upon the power of coal and steam engine. But as a society we need to find new fuels to sustain us as a society, fuel that is sustainable. Fuel that doesn’t burn us out, wreck our mental health and cause damage to our spirit.