Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can I help you?

In his book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki recollects of how growing up as a child his rich dad would never say no to whatever he asked. His rich dad would be like, “umm… Let’s see how we can afford it”. While his poor dad would slam his request with “We can’t afford that.” Kiyosaki argues that the we-can’t-afford-that statement not only closes the chapter altogether but it also shuts off your mind and creativity. On the other hand, the how-can-we-afford-it swings open the brain in search of infinite ways, means and possibilities. That’s why the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer - or remains poor.

These days many young people come out with new ideas to keep up with the increased competition in life. Business ideas in the private sector, story ideas for books and films, project ideas to create jobs and employment, activity ideas to keep the youth away from drugs and violence. Yet our immediate reaction is rarely How can I help? But rather,Won’t there be any problem? With such an attitude, of course, negativity sets in. We are looking for faults. And in the process we find many. We find that rigsar dances are bad to our culture. Never mind that our children are hooked to anything Korean anyway. Public concerts and open-air festivals cannot be approved in the name of security. Who cares that lack of entertainment is actually manifesting as other social ills like gambling, drug-abuse, street violence and alcoholism. Business ideas are shot down because of municipal rules, lack of capitals or the required collaterals. We don’t explore ways and means to get the proposals through. We are happy to reject them so that we make fewer mistakes and more promotions would follow.

As a young upstart, I really don’t remember how many times I was turned down. "Lack of resources" was a favorite line in those meetings. But that was few decades back. It is ironic that we continue to hear those same lines. True we have not become richer but we could have changed our attitude towards our youth given what they are going through. For me it used to be such a cruel remark that closed all possibilities for further discussion and put an end to my motivations and creativity.

Surfing through online forums these days makes me feel if we are not falling into a national pessimism trap. There seems to be so much negative energy among the "educated" lot. We are blind to what is going right. We only keep nagging on where it is going wrong. We don’t encourage best practices. We are rather happy to go on a witch hunt. We rarely celebrate the good deeds or our local heroes. Rather we simply bad mouth just everyone.

If you walk into any public office, or even a commercial joint, you are rarely greeted with, “Can I help you?” Few months back I read about a group of youth in Paro starting a signature campaign to get a basketball court. I am curious as to how many people asked, “How can I help to give these kids a basketball court?” And if at all they got a basketball court.


  1. In a meeting, my boss asked us if we are frustrated at getting our ideas turned down because he hardly gets any proposals with fresh ideas. That's the thing with us today. Our stomachs are full and the next thing, we want to sleep no matter if the world is going down the tubes. The fresh ideas can simply go to Hell! Aren't most Bhutanese such complacent dodos anyway? Regret to admit that I just might be one of them. LOL. BTW, I like the poor dad and rich dad concept. :)

  2. U said it best la..I hope this makes it to all the media outlets..people could use your article to introspect and hopefully mend their ways.."We only keep nagging on where it is going wrong. We don’t encourage best practices," No one said this truer la..I appreciate the spirit you embody..I hope I can live up to the lofty ideals you expound here..I'd be a better person for doing that :)

  3. rich dad thinks that way coz he has a resourse. poor dad has nothing to spare for. thats the basic reality of the facts. we hv to know our place in the line.
    well, but then coming to the point of bhutanese, in general, attitute. its like wat Kinga says, a sense of complacency is too much among bhutanese. we are okie as long as we have something to eat in our plate.
    i had this chance to meet HM, 5th king, in his office two years ago. there he was, speaking about this attitute of bhutanese, that we are so focussed in our own complacency which is otherwise an influence of our religion.
    anyways, its nice that u brought up such issues which could change some people's idea and attitute. thank u for bringing such topics.

  4. Well Kiyosaki actually mentions that his rich dad (who was his adopted dad) never passed him any money. He made him work and earn it. And that way Kiyosaki actually went on to become a millionaire when he grew up.

    If there is something I hate it is complacency and indifference. I tolerate mistakes from an attempt made. But I get mad at nothing being done.

    @ Dinesh.... We could try to reach our ideals even if never achieve them. That's why they are ideals.

    The other day we were at the MoIC and the topic of local content came up and how BBS TV was failing to keep up. I said, "let's forget what's not working, lets get to something that's going right. How about supporting our film industry so that more people would go and watch our own films instead of being glued to foreign serials?"

    @Kinga.... It's easier to shoot down ideas and proposals because then you can have a nice weekend. But if you say, "ummm.... let's see how we can get this done", you would be adding up to you loads of work.

  5. Bhutan Today carried a story about leadership vacuum.

    This is main cause of it because younger guys are never given a break by their superiors who keeps rejecting new ideas.

    Make way for the young!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Very few government offices have counter services to dispense the services they should be providing.

    If you go to any office the standard reply is "not allowed".

    Long way before public offices dish out public services.

  7. There is so much an individual can do. I know many colleagues who are intelligent, forward thinking and willing to deliver.

    However - it is the culture of complacency and the culture of mediocrity that pervades a lot of our organisations that prevent these people from performing.

    And where does culture come from?

    It is from - say after me - our LEADERS

    Let us be frank - we don't have good leaders. A good leader is someone who brings out the best in an individual by inspiring him to set clear and objective goals, encouraging right behaviours and most important of all by being an example to his followers.

    How many leaders (in politics, private sector or the civil service) do we have? An easy question - None

    Difficult to agree but ask yourself - is there anybody that inspires you?

    With any other culture - our civil service and the private sector would have delivered a lot.

  8. @Bhutanese Blogger - You remind of a Philippino proverb.

    "Good leaders make new leaders. Bad leaders make new disciples"

    On your questions as to who inspires me. Apart from the two kings, Dasho Neten inspires me for her simplicity, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin (DGPC MD) for his proactive attitude and humility, Lyonpo Ugyen for his gentlemanliness, etc. So if you look around, we have role models. May be not "the" role model.

  9. I wonder how many of us would claim parents to have inspired us...

  10. Honestly not much especially those of who were sent to boarding schools.

    Still when I look back I feel my mother inspired me to be always good to others and no matter what - to be cheerful. My father taught me the dignity of labour, hard work and loyalty.

  11. "Preservation of Culture and Tradition" is the key to Bhutan's survival as a Nation, and that's what has washed every dead brain. That phrase is taken to (funnily) seriously that people hardly want to change ha ha ha. I want change but everyone around me thinks I am hyper... My boss advise me to take things easy... I wanna break Free!
    Thank you Dorji!

  12. Hi Dorji,
    Usually I am not regular to read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.

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