A local automobile commercial says: "We focus on perfection, almost to the point of excess." In the era of globalization, which is characterized by extremely fierce competition, the people of Taiwan still lack this kind of spirt. As a result, the nation often plays second fiddle to others, specializing in the manufacture of equipment for other companies, rather than producing its own branded products. This also applies to baseball, show business and almost all other fields.
Recently, some teams in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) have brought in rules to prevent players fooling around in the media, because they were concerned about their image and focus. Baseball star Chen Chin-feng (陳金峰) always wears a poker face whenever he is on the field. As a result of this, he has been criticized by the local media for being arrogant. Nevertheless, in the US and Japan, where baseball is quite popular, most baseball stars also wear a poker face during practice and games. They remain deadly serious not because they think they are big shots, but because they put themselves into the game wholeheartedly, focusing on any field changes.
Certainly one should concentrate while doing work. However, looking at Taiwan's baseball league, we can see players who take off their uniforms and fool around with their teammates during games while others shout at their rivals crazily. How can they play well during games when they waste their energy like this? For talented players who do not concentrate and practice self discipline, it is almost impossible to perform well.
The Taiwanese people love to blame our global inferiority on insufficient capital. But in my opinion, money is a minor problem. The real problem lies in the lack of our insistence on perfection, as people are often not completely focused on what they do.
Take automobiles made in Taiwan for instance. It has been about 40 years since Taiwan launched its automobile industry, but locally-manufactured cars are still unreliable and inferior to those from Eastern Europe.
Loose attitudes have brought countless risks to Taiwan's society over the years and wasted huge amounts of manpower and money. Whenever I see workers paving roads, fixing houses, installing machines, or performing other tasks that are related to public safety, I always think of the high quality performance that I see overseas. And I always ask myself: Why is the quality here so poor?
Recently, the government made every effort to complete the construction of the Taipei-Ilan Freeway before the Lunar New Year holiday, despite the fact that even the basic electronic equipment is not yet functioning. Whereas the Japanese may spend a whole afternoon just to fix a small hole on a path. Perhaps this almost excessive focus is the characteristic that puts them among the world's leading nations.
When compared with the Japanese spirit, should Taiwanese people not be ashamed? Maybe Japan will lose its advantage someday. But with respect for professionalism, it can easily make a comeback. If we cannot learn from Japan's spirit, we will never reach such high standards, no matter what encouragement and money is offered.
In early January, the La New Bears of the CPBL officially recruited Chen on a NT$30 million (almost US$1 million) contract. I believe that the Bears can learn from his world-class performance and professionalism that helps him to focus on what he does. This is priceless for the team and also for its sponsor.