Shaming a man to teach him what’s right from wrong kampung style

June 24, 2014

It’s the hot season and working conditions in the field can only be described as debilitating. Even breathing in this heat feels like sucking in glowing embers. Usually this time of year, it’s not uncommon for some of my farmhands to come up with 1,001 cocker meme excuses why this or that cannot be done the way I insist a task should be done – in my book complaining is well and fine….it’s perfectly natural for disgruntled folk to complain – I don’t see that necessarily as a bad thing as it’s probably their way of coping with stress by releasing their frustrations. I understand…

But I draw the line when those who I work with decide to take the lazy man’s way out by cutting corners. Whenever I see that the discipline slacks in the crew. Usually I don’t require words to enforce discipline. Less talk is better. I just do the work the way I want it to be done quietly…consistently and that really my way of shaming those who choose to stray out of line into compliance. I term this process for lack of a better – tightening the line. As without discipline nothing can be achieved.

Usually when I decide to ‘tighten the line’ its never a pleasant business. It starts with me shadowing the crew like Velcro. I do what needs to done consistently. I never make small talk…never and I don’t mix with the farmhands during rest or cigarette breaks as I want to convey to them my displeasure.

From time to time those worker’s who require a quick spin with the wrench to ‘tighten’ their wayward ways will feel so embarrassed and small that some of them would say to me, ‘we know how you want it to be done now. Why don’t you leave it to us.’ I just ignore them and continue doing what needs to be done and very slowly but surely a deadly silence pervades the entire crew till they rendered silent…serious and reflective…and that in a nutshell is how a man learns the error of his ways and rights them…a la kampung style.


‘The section in Sun Tzu’s art of war which is often misquoted is – treat your soldiers like your own children and they will fight courageously…but this misleads terribly as when one reads on – the famous strategist issues a stricture and warns against spoiling your soldiers and even goes as far as to say, if this warning is not headed, then they will be good for nothing.

And this should prompt any leader to ask the next supplementary question – how do you go about the unpleasant business of managing ‘good for nothing’ people. This makes perfect sense to me as in life whether you succeed or crash and burn hinges not on whether you yourself have the seven habits of highly effective people. That’s the easy peasy part.

As it remains the very simple brasstack case of how well prepared are you as a leader in dealing with the seven habits of highly ineffective people!

Don’t believe me then consider this. Why is MH370 still a persistent mystery like where is the lost city of Atlantis? The simple answer is there was a total breakdown in discipline and the person who was responsible for tracking flying objects the size of a shopping mall was probably playing solitaire instead of keeping his eye on the ball. The same thing can be said about the riot in little india. These people did not bother to train realistically so when the shit hit the fan, everyone in the chain of command was mumbling and covering their ass. Result, a bad hair day lah. Same goes for Roy versus Mini Lee. The person who is responsible for scaling threats and opportunities in blogoland gave Mini Lee lousy advise and the result, the man is locked in the basement with his keys on the other side of the door. I don’t even know how he’s going to get out. He’s stuck solid! Can you now see why it’s so important to build the core competencies to manage ineffective people?

CPF also same. Don’t complicate your understanding for a thing by trying to make sense of what Zorro Lim said. He will just confuse you no end as he is a very ineffective communicator. It’s very simple, if the custodians of power stayed true to the goal of CPF at it’s inception – there will be no problem today. Hong Lim park will be empty. Roy Ng will be just another voice in the great digital wilderness. But somewhere along the line, a few ineffective people decided to change the focus of CPF, they used it for housing, healthcare and ten other things which all had the cummulative effect of shifting the goal. I am sure at that time when these planners began tinkering with it, they felt perfectly justified to do so as the trade offs must have mesmerized them. But fast forward today and the thing which was supposed to provision for retirement can no longer fulfill it’s primary goal. It’s so bloody far off the mark today and encrusted with so many sub goals that it’s doubtful that they even have a clear line of sight to the original goal any longer. Now you go ask yourself whose fault is it? Ineffective people lah!

In every case when one peruses thru the anatomy of failure, it was due to an abject failure to intelligently manage ineffective people.

In the olden days when men were still real men and took their jobs seriously – there was hardly a need to manage ineffective people who let down the side down. Since these duds usually felt an acute sense of shame. In those days they could always be counted to do the right thing by putting a revolver in their mouths and doing the honorable thing and this served as a poignant warning to others to keep their eye on the ball and this was how the system perpetuated itself.

But these days it is very different. My feel is if this social convention was still around – then all our problems will disappear like lemon drops.’

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