Focus on risk-taking in next stage of nation-building

It would appear that we have built a nation of citizens who are unable to think out of the box (Fear of failure holding S'pore back: Study; Nov 8).

We have frowned upon risk-taking ventures, experimentation, passions and desires that carry the possibility of failure.

Why do we do this? Why is there an over-emphasis on top academic grades, career-safe jobs and materialistic pursuits at the expense of experimentation that could create a greater impact on society?

Have we distributed social benefits and handouts too liberally, so that the need for initiative and self-reliance is reduced?

Some of the world's foremost creative icons created their best work because they were ready to accept failures and go into unexplored territory to solve a problem creatively.

Our greatest challenge is, therefore, to create a paradigm shift towards greater risk-taking, the tolerance or even celebration of failure, and supporting alternative avenues for and perceptions of success.

This will create a strong, sustaining and innovative entrepreneurial culture.

We will greatly benefit from mature high-level thinking and a change in our social and education policies.

Schools should spark the passion for entrepreneurship, financial management tools, business models and creative thinking that would encourage autonomy, independence, innovation, creativity and risk-taking.

We also need to go beyond formal education to produce more rounded students who can think out of the box, be more curious, creative and self-reliant, and take risks, even though they may be confronted with failure.

The creation of a more vibrant private sector that is fed by an entrepreneurial, creative and innovative environment is a priority for Singapore's future economy and should be the next stage of our nation-building.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)