You’ve probably heard of the 5 Cs: cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club.
If you have those 5 Cs in Singapore, you’re considered successful.
But I think it’s time for us to redefine success, both as individuals and as a nation.
We’ve come a long way since Singapore gained independence five decades ago. If we want to take it to the next level, however, we need a new set of 5 Cs to aspire toward.
To quote Guy Kawasaki, we need to make meaning, not just money. Adopting this mindset will enable us to move from good to great.
Two years ago, I wrote about the 5 Cs that will make us happy. But we won’t find lasting happiness without a revised definition of success. That’s why I wrote this article.
I propose these new 5 Cs of Singaporean success:
We emphasise the importance of achievement, whether it’s in school, business, or any other area. We feel the pressure to work longer, harder and smarter, so that we can accomplish more.
I’m a firm believer in hard work, but enduring success is about contribution, not achievement. Achievement focuses on what we can do, while contribution focuses on what we can do for others.
There’s a huge difference between the two.
If we serve others and add tremendous value to them, we’ll be on our way to building a meaningful life. We’ll likely be rewarded financially too, as a by-product of our contributions.
John Wooden once said: “Ability can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”
In other words, competence leads to temporary success; character leads to permanent success.
Acquiring traits like courage, perseverance, humility, generosity and kindness is what matters. These traits enable us to emerge stronger through the trials of life, and allow us to make a difference to the people around us.
Character takes years to build, but it’s a key component of long-term success.
As Singaporeans, we’re practical people who frequently ask ourselves, “What’s in it for me?” This kind of pragmatic thinking guides us in our personal and professional lives.
I don’t doubt the benefits of pragmatism, but it can only get us so far. To reach the next level, we must cultivate an unwavering sense of commitment. We must be so committed in our areas of responsibility that our trustworthiness will never be questioned.
This applies to simple things like punctuality, and bigger things like doing what we said we’d do – every single time, whether or not there’s something “in it” for us or not.
Take a moment and think about the two people you trust and respect most.
They’re probably people of conviction. They know what their values are, and they make deliberate choices to live out those values.
This is reflected in the decisions they make with regard to family, career, finances and hobbies.
Like we talked about earlier, Singaporeans are pragmatic and performance-driven. But real success isn’t just focused on pragmatism and performance. It’s focused on purpose, principles, and serving people.
To attain this kind of success, we must first decide what’s most important to us, and what convictions we’ll live by.
To a large extent, the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our life.
Long-term success requires that we nurture our relationships. If we have the other 4 Cs of Contribution, Character, Commitment and Conviction, but if our lives are full of broken relationships… then we haven’t found success.
We must make it a priority to live in community. This means that we invest in our family relationships, friendships, and in serving our neighbourhood.
We’re independent people, but to grow as a nation we must learn to value interdependence and community too.
The bottom line
Materialism – that’s what the old 5 Cs are about.
Material things matter, because they provide us with comfort and enjoyment. But there are other things that matter much more.
We must ask ourselves some hard questions.
What do we want our lives to count for? What are our values? What do we want our legacy to be?
What do we want Singapore’s legacy to be?
As we embrace these new 5 Cs of Singaporean success, the answers to those questions will become clearer. And we’ll be headed down the path of building a better, brighter future for ourselves, our families, and our country.
Together, let’s make it happen.
Daniel Wong is a learning and teen expert, and is also the bestselling author of “The Happy Student”. Download his FREE e-book, “16 Keys To Motivating Your Teenager”. The views expressed are his own.