Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Why Singaporeans need to cultivate the Bronze medal mindset

The Greek Philosopher Plato once imagined a utopia that divided men into three castes. 

  • Men of Gold are philosopher-kings and have an affinity for Reason. 
  • Men of Silver support the men of gold and are their auxiliaries, they function as soldiers and stewards for the rulers of society and have an affinity for Courage. 
  • Men of Bronze are the core producers and consumers of society so they have an affinity for their Appetites. 

In Singapore, everyone wants to be men of gold. Why else study so hard to get a scholarship so that they can become a mandarin?

I think that if we design a lifestyle independently of what people say, we should cultivate a Bronze medal mindset. Psychologists are now saying after studying Olympic medallists that, while gold medallists are happy after becoming number 1, silver medallists seem more miserable than bronze medallists. The logic is that a silver medallist will spend the rest of his life knowing that he's this close to getting gold, whereas the bronze medallist is grateful that he was able to get a medal at all. 

As I begin to weaponise my financial independence to build greater lines of earned income, I soon find myself in a much more exclusive environment where I am starting to see myself as somewhat barely qualifying for a bronze medal. More often these days, I realise that I'm often the lowest income guy in the room if not the dumbest. This is nothing to complain about because the products I build and the value I bring is starting to gain traction in different circles and some inadequacy is quite normal. For a guy from a government school and a JC that can't produce anything except civil servants, I should feel good for myself.

As low as I am on the totem pole, I don't envy silver medallists. 

In a popular university Facebook discussion group, a popular Computer Science professor gave an honest review of his life and why sometimes his family hopes he can be richer. From what I hear, this professor already lives on landed property. In another separate thread, I see a successful VC challenging him asking him why folks from his secondary school tend to become administrators and not successful billionaire businessmen. 

It was then that I realise that having a silver medal is no fun in Singapore - Gold medallists are constantly mocking you, asking you why you are not in their ranks.

I think if Plato looked at Singapore, he would first be flattered at how much we tried to replicate his Republic, but living here for a few years, I think Plato will probably drink hemlock.

We might have gone too far.

In Singapore, it's not just men of Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The men of Gold will have to look to the Men of Platinum. "Even the guy who makes furniture for a living can buy GCBs, what about you, dear professor?"

Aim for Bronze. Bronze is nowhere near rock bottom. 

Below Bronze is Iron. 

Below Iron is Lead. 

Below Lead are the BBFA Incels who brag about Technology and Cryptocurrency trades on Seedly but now recently extinct because counters are correcting right now.

Thus, in the Grander scheme of things, we can pick up a thing or two from Simone Biles.

Protect your mental health.

Bronze is enough.




  1. Think you have to replace platinum with palladium. Pt has become forgotten and is only 58% of gold's price.

    As for administrators, professors et al, the really ambitious ones vie to get called up by PAP. Just like entrepreneurs, not many can make it & not many like what it entails.

    If you can reach silver in a cushy iron rice bowl job without having to bother about recessions or competitors, it's not a bad place to be.

  2. "More often these days, I realise that I'm often the lowest income guy in the room" --> If your income is from dividends, its different from ppl still working. no matter how high up they are. Its like you dont even have to show up and run, and you still get bronze!

  3. I'd ask what's the dollar income earned per hour worked?