“One of the things that my parents have taught me is never listen to other people’s expectations. You should live your own life and live up to your own expectations, and those are the only things I really care about.”
Speaking of Tiger parents, I found the quote above and thought it most appropriate for this post given that Tiger Woods was trained by one of the ultimate Tiger parents. Tiger was trained by his own dad and held to high expectations by him. As we all know, he became arguably the best golfer of all time. His father (African American) dominated his life while his quiest Asian mother watched idly from behind the ropes. Now his off the course issues can’t be overlooked. Were his failures the result of being raised by a Tiger parent? As a Tiger parent, you can’t be expected or expect to be able to manage your child forever.
This past week I was speaking with a work colleague about our 11 year old sons. He told me how he got upset with his son for speaking on his cell phone, chasing girls and forgetting his studies. How did he handle it? With a belt. He said he teared up that he did it and was shaking afterwards. The joke (myth) I always hear is that Asian people never hit their children and that other cutlures are more apt to physically discipline their child. Whether stereotype or truth, there really is no right way. It depends upon the child.
The following is the last of 3 letters that my grandfather gave to me when I told him as a young teen that I wasn’t going to work in his meat company. They were letters that his friend had given to his son who had just graduated from college. Together they reflect what was believed at the time by elderly Asian men to be the proper use of old Far Eastern culture family values and Western culture. These elderly Asian men had nothing and believed that family came first and that sacrifice in the name of family was much more honorable. Please remember this letter is over 30 years old.
June 22, 1978
As your father I welcome you home, and as the President of YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. I welcome you to enter YYYYYYY . I know you have given up your $14,500 job with a very well thought of consulting company and are willing to work with YYYYYY in order to receive the knowledge and experience in management from me. As you know, I started my business when I was only sixteen. I had no friends to help me and no capital to operate the business, but I have built my business in a way as it is today. Furthermore, I have been formally educated for only six years. But I have been learning very hard by myself, and I believe that today, my knowledge in the economy and in politics could be better than what the avearge people possess.
As regards to your job, in general parents want to send their children to other companies for receiving the initial training in order for them not t be spoiled. I cannot agree with them in their views. When you work in the big instititutions your job is only limited in the very small area. Your work experience an d knowledge when then be suitable for a limited small area in a big organization like YYYYYYY. I have some experience with some employees of Nihon Schering, who worked with Takedi and Shionogi. These employees had obtained a very little working experience from those big companies, but they had learnd how to criticize the work instead of how to improve the work. As Mr. Takeda told me, in his experience the best employees he had acquired were those who came from Nihon, even they were not the best situation for Nihon.
Naturally it was difficult for the father to employ his children in his own company. If the father expects his children to perform a good job, he should make himself a model to show his children. This is not easy. For most fathers in my age want to be relaxed and enjoy their late life, especially when they have enough money to support themselves. But I am still willing to work hard to set an example to show you until you have learned the business.
In your case, you are very lucky because you are well-educated, you have the capital from your father, and you have many friends from your own and from your father. I believe you can do hundred times better and be more successful than your father , if you try hard.
You work with YYYYY and you certainly hope one day you will be promoted to the management level. To be a member of the management, it means you are in a high position and receive more money, but it also requires you to perform a more important job with more responsibilities. To be a member of the management in YYYYYYY, as the policy adopted in Nihon Schering,
1. You need to work more than other employees,
2. You need to perform more important work,
3. You need to perform more difficult work, and
4. You should be a model to show to the other employees.
I know the above requirements are not easy to perform. But, for your future success, you should try your best to achieve it.
Your dear father
I’ve kept these letters for over 32 years. I still find the nuggets in them, but am reminded of the stern nature by which the patriarchs of Asian families ruled their families. You take this back to modern times and there is no way I can parent like this with my own children. While I try to teach my kids the value of the nuclear family and that working hard and striving to be the best that you can be is important, it is no guarantee for success.
What everyone keeps asking me though is if this individual and his father ended up okay. Well the truth is that the person these letters were written to eventually became the CEO of his dad’s company and took over as CEO 10 years ago. He is a mulit-millionaire public figure and I would venture to guess that he is more successful than his own father. His two younger brothers are okay financially although they both left their father’s business and received only the value of their trusts. It must be mentioned that the father’s philosophy did have it’s toll on the family. He divorced his wife, and she went back to Asia with their daughter. His old-school treatment of the women in his life could not withstand the pressures of Western culture .
This is the last of the 3-letter series of the Asian Tiger dad.