David and Goliath is a concept most of us are familiar with. Goliath is a gigantic, arrogant dude who thinks he can rule a country and David, a much smaller guy, changes the rule, defeats the big guy and becomes a king. But one day, Malcolm Gladwell, a New Yorker and journalist came across a paper by an Israeli doctor who suggested that Goliath might suffer from a rare disease that impairs his eyesight.
Why do giants lose? Because they can’t see. They lose the ability to fully appreciate the world they live in. This is not a story about David’s bravery but Goliath’s blindness. David and Goliath are in each of us. At times, we take risks and challenge what we think we know. In other moments in life, we triumphantly perceive ourselves as the smartest in the room and refuse to see our incompetencies.
I have plunged into the working world thinking I could become a valuable asset and resource in whatever organization I work for given what I’ve learnt in school and the semi-professional experiences I’ve accumulated while working 3-4 jobs as a university student. I was audaciously confident that I overlooked my blind spots.
I did not get a job as a full-time reporter right away following graduation. There were many trials and misses. After awful and embarrassing experiences, I realize being cognizant of your shortcomings and mistakes only boost your humility and ability to do better, but do so with consciousness of why you are doing it, otherwise you’ll sink in the pool of self-depreciation.
The key word is ultimately balance. You want to appreciate yourself for who you are and what you have achieved, but at the same time be wise enough to listen to others pointing out your errors and use that as a learning opportunity.
Korean culture is characterized by hierarchical relationships that frequently limit rooms for intergenerational debates that are free from age limit and seniority in schools, families, and workplaces. It is tremendously important to respect the elderly when they have a good reason to criticize and lecture you, but it is also essential to know when to speak up when their arguments are not based on reasoning and logic but only based on their seniority over you. Everyone should know their blind spots. Age doesn’t guarantee wisdom.
It is extremely refreshing when a senior listens to your opinion and fairly discusses it with you so that both can arrive at a strategy and solution that help the performance of the company. I have had the privilege to work with such seniors at the Chonnam Tribune magazine and Gwangju International Center where age and position do not immediately guarantee sagacity but dedication and willingness to learn and listen do.
Finding a blind spot is not a cakewalk. There’s a reason why we call it that way because it is hidden from our naked eyes. That’s why we have people around us who motivate us to cherish our qualities but also encourage a better version of who we are. That’s the humanity I want to see in any workplace I go for.
* The writer is a reporter at the VnExpress International which is the most read newspaper in Vietnam.
|▲ Nguyen Huong, ‘14, Dept. of English Language and Literature
By Nguyen Huong, ‘14, Dept. of English Language and Literature