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Unleash Your Inner Tiger Mum: She’s Fierce But Means Well



As someone reared in South East Asia in a Eurasian household, the controversy over Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and the recent BBC documentary Meet Britain’s Tiger Mums, made me reflect on the cultural values I took for granted on both sides of my heritage. After I had recovered of course, from the cold sweat, culture shock and post traumatic flashbacks of all this controversial Asian style schooling; I realized, all of us could pick up on some valuable ideas embedded in the Tiger Mom and apply them in our work practices and organizational culture.


What is a Tiger Mom?

Tiger Moms demand unquestioning respect and obedience from their children and are extremely strict. They impose extreme discipline and never take no for an answer, drilling their children toward Academic excellence. Yes scary I know, but get inside the mind of one and you realize there is a lot of Positivity underneath it all and it is applicable to our personal development and the teams we lead.

Don’t be afraid of being unpopular

Tiger Moms show how much they care by taking the risk of being unpopular and sacrifice on the sentimental dividends. Sometimes you need to make decisions or enforce rules that will strengthen yourself or your organization in the end. How many of us wished bloated inefficient sectors of our economy got some tough love for example – it would have been for the greater good.

The 10,000 rule: Another take on Meritocracy

Tiger Moms don’t assume you have to be good at something from the start to excel which is why we associate them with hours of hot-housing and homework. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to pursue a dream or activity or venture because we thought we were not innately talented enough, because we didn’t get it right straight away. The Asian take on Meritocracy is slightly different- the idea is you could be good at something only if you gave yourself enough time to work it out and apply yourself without being a blazing star at first go.

Here everyone stands the chance of excelling if you encourage them to invest enough effort and keep at it. As a business this relates to Economies of Experience. Don’t automatically discard a new idea or venture at the first stumble. On a personal note: There is a hidden positivity and egalitarian element in this approach.

Discipline. Work first, play later.

Which brings me to Discipline and Delayed Gratification. Tiger Moms insist on it. It’s not a glamorous route to success but it is a life skill and business practice we need to keep coming back to in our adult lives. There’s nothing easy about this one but once it’s a part of you, or your organizational Culture you barely notice it’s there. From an organizational point of view, there has got to be clear standards, benchmarks and targets for acceptable behaviour and performance in any business, with clear consequences for any action good or bad.

Don’t Quit so soon -Cultivating Self Belief takes work

Linked to the 10,000 Rule, Self belief is something you earn through sheer graft. It’s worth remembering that making mistakes and faltering are part of the road to Excellence. Tiger Moms really push “practice makes perfect” and don’t accept easy quitters because they see the light at the end of the tunnel, not because they are sadists. They genuinely believe their children possess great potential and see it as a process of unleashing it.

Conversely as an individual, don’t push yourself because you are a Masochist – push harder because you believe you are capable of better and to quote from the Ad- “You’re worth it”. When leading a team, you sometimes have to push for that extra sprint at the end to meet deadlines and targets etc. Its worth reminding them about their potential as opposed to focusing on the negative.

Self Esteem is Empirical

Which brings me to Self Esteem. Cultivating it in yourself or your team or Business is ultimately your own responsibility and earned through experience. Tiger Moms believe that it’s only when you excel after investing time and effort and see the results of your hard work, that you build self-esteem. Not just because someone told you “You are the best”. Once you get that feeling through your own effort, you are hooked. You start to believe in yourself and know the next challenge is surmountable and attractive even. Good HR creates processes for employees to develop Self esteem this way when staggered benchmarks, development plans and regular opportunities for reaching them visibly are in place.

Fun comes from being good at something

Tiger moms know that it’s not fun working so hard in the beginning but once you get better at something you will discover how much fun it is.  We all have to pay our dues when starting something new but there comes a tipping point when it won’t be so hard we just have to trust our selves to get there.

In Conclusion

Yes, Its not easy reading and I don’t condone all the approaches that are associated with strict Asian parenting and schooling having experienced it myself, but I am also thankful for some life-skills that I was forced to forge for myself in the process. I have to keep reminding myself of these values and mindsets every time I take on a new venture. We all get soft in the middle over time or maybe get discouraged into not pushing harder.

Do you Agree or Disagree  with this approach? Which makes me ask the question: What other life skills  does your cultural heritage  bring to your Business ventures, work life and organizational culture ?

Image: “Mother and baby tiger cub/Shutterstock



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The Author:

Elish Bul-Godley B2B Business Development, Community Manager and Events professional. Freelance Copywriter | Content Creator | Contributor for following the publications:- LeCool Dublin, Tweakyourbiz.com, Furniture News Magazine, Ni Business News & Meetingsbooker.com. Co-Founder and Creator of Press Accredited Blog-zine Eurovision Ireland. Also worked in:- Retail management | Visual Merchandising | Facilities & Project management | Hospitality Meetings & Events. Born in Singapore, now in Dublin having negotiated the associated Cultural changes between East and West. | Bellydance teacher and Scifi geek in spare time. Tweet @elishbulgodley http://www.elishbulgodley.wordpress.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    HI Elish, For me, this is a great insight into a different culture and strangely perhaps, I am reminded of a lot of Irish mammies I know too! Tiger Mums teach many great qualities, and many that are definitely transferable into the business world. All cultures have good and bad points, but ultimately I’m a believer that it comes down to the individual at the end of the day. Thanks so much for sharing, this was a really interesting read. 

  • Elishbul

    Thanks for the input Niall. I also suspect The subtext in some of the discussions over this issue lies in the emergence of the “tiger” economies in the far east and southeast Asian region. It can give you an insight into how their business leaders attitudes, worker ethic and the stance taken by some governments in the region too. Perhaps understanding Foreign attitudes and demystifying them in this context, makes it less alien and stops us from being too judgemental.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Agree! BIGtime :)

  • http://twitter.com/#!/antonmccarthy Anton McCarthy

    Hi Elish,

    Enjoyed this one! It’s funny, as I started out reading the first couple of paragraphs, I immediately though of the 10,000 rule, and then you mentioned it!! I think that ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’ is a good corollary to that principle. I think that in our fast-paced, ‘want it now’ Western culture, it’s easy to miss the point that people don’t excel on natural ability alone, and that hard work and persistence over a prolonged period is what really gets you to where you want to be.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    I wonder do we do “busy” to stem the guilt of lack of earning? If we fill the void, we don’t have to look into it and see or hear or feel its hollowness.
    A lovely read, Lewis and I especially like “we are all best at being our authentic selves.” It reminds me of the saying “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” By being, we already are shining the creative self, and attracting more of what we need (not necessarily work, but what we authentically need)
    Wow, there is nothing worse than the fear of the unknown, it really is the fear of nothing, so we DO something to counteract. 

  • http://www.about.me/lewisevans777 Lewis Evans

    Thanks Elaine and Elish for your comments. It struck me, as I reading them that unless we know how to be, we cannot possibly know what to do. But in our crazy society, it seems that people measure by what they do, and then have challenges with how to be.

  • Anwevans

    As I get older , it’s not the dry periods I worry about ( after all, accidental pregnancy is very unlikely), I worry more about the wet periods. Incontinence is a worry.

  • Adam Huner

    Brilliant Lewis, I think this describes my last five months. At one point I stopped fretting and just went with what was given on the day….very relaxing, I think I was channeling this from your mind….or was that Olga’s mind. I have been feeling an underpinning groundswell occurring around all my projects….creative thoughts come randomly and rapid fire. A good analogy is when we go to bed with a problem and awake suddenly with the solution. I guess you could say sleep is the ultimate relaxation. Maybe they could teach a course on how to sleep creatively in college. A great thought for the day…if not the year.

  • http://www.theexecutivesuite.com/blog/ Warren Rutherford

    Lewis a very good post. You’ve struck a chord for many with your words. It’s helpful to remember from whence and how we came to be. The reconnect is beneficial.

  • http://www.about.me/lewisevans777 Lewis Evans

     Sorry to hear that accidental pregnancies are unlikely. Have you tried applying testosterone in a gel. There are various other suggestions I could make, but perhaps not here…

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Lewis, this is one of my all time fav TYB posts, what a great message and one that we all need to be reminded of (most definitely including me!) ;-)  

  • http://www.about.me/lewisevans777 Lewis Evans

     So true. I think, in our hearts, we often long for the days of jobs for life, 2.5 children, a neat house with a white picket fence and the work day ending at five in time for tea and relaxation. But now, if we relax, the opportunities that present themselves are much more exciting.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    LIke many other business owners, I’ve experienced this gap. One observation that I noticed was that there is an emotional life that ebbs and flows within the gap. There is a message that supports that frenzied behaviour that you described in your post. The “shoulds” are guised as advice. In the end, it makes you feel inadequate. At least until you realise that banging your head against the wall doesn’t make it fall down.

    Hopefully for all of us, we have a moment when we see that doing nothing may be doing something. It’s when you let go of the outcome and the need to control the results that creativity and tolerance for ambiguity strengthen. I’m amazed how often I forget this and then how marvelously everything falls into place. Thanks for the reminder (and you’re not alone!).