A tech venture capitalist was giving a talk in a tech conference, and he made references that probably we Filipinos don’t work hard enough. I asked him to explain. He said that he just got back from China, and he visited an office. He saw in that tech office that there were many people slumped in their tables, asleep. He said, why do you allow people to sleep in the office? Oh, said the manager. It is just that we were rushing the release of the software, and these people have been in the office for the entire week without going home, and they were just catching up on some sleep.
He further said he has heard about Koreans, or Japanese dying from too much work, or Chinese now straining all their capacities when the opportunity presents itself, and even Americans putting in 80 to 100 hour work weeks in many tech firms, but he has still to see such from Filipinos. He said that Filipinos by culture have a built –in appreciation for work life balance – we work, but not overwork. We take time to relax, go to movies, attend fiestas, go to malls with our families, meet with friends, and chill out.
Maybe as a people, we do see that Filipinos work very hard when they go abroad, but maybe they don’t put in that much work here, because maybe deep inside, they know here that what makes you successful is not how hard you work, but who you know. The belief in the padrino system is still strong, so we don’t try to excel that hard in school like the Koreans or Chinese who believe that if they study hard enough and when they get work, work hard enough, they will move ahead.
There are also some cultures that takes relaxation very seriously. For instance, it is well known that the Germans and English work hard, but the southern Europeans take life more easily. It is part of daily routine of Italians and Spaniards to close their shops at around 1 to 3 pm, so they can take their siesta. One of the amusing statistics I recently gathered was how much vacation time people took. In the statistic, it was shown that the Japanese are given 18 days of paid leaves per year, but on average, they avail only of 7 days. The South Koreans gets 10 days of paid leave, but avails only 7 too. The Americans get 14 days, and they avail 10. One of the leaders is the French. They are normally given 30 days per year of paid leaves, and on average, everybody uses up the 30! So the French work to live, while many of us live to work! They really know how to relax. Evidently, they are still rich, because they know how to work smart.
I guess success is about working smart, and also working hard. How much do you believe in working hard?