Cultural Values and How They Shape a Country
I like to travel and observe the people and culture. I'm always curious about how things work, and that includes different cultures. Every culture has a superpower, and it's fun to figure out what is the source of that superpower.
The question that is always on my mind is "What makes this culture different and what's at the root of these differences?"
Some examples are...
Germany doesn't just produce awesome cars, but in fact everything they make is awesome.
Everyone loves France for it's lifestyle.
China is incredibly productive, and it's not just because of low wages. There are a lot of countries with low wages, so why is China so competitive?
What is the cause of these differences? It's primarily about the values that the people hold. This is a crucial point...it's not because of the government, how resource rich a country is or any external factors. Rather it's defined by internal factors. It's in how people think. It's the values that people have.
For me, unraveling these value systems is fun.
So, let's start with Germany...
I am so impressed with the German culture! It's an incredibly organized place, and everything the German people make or do is done extremely well.
The obvious example is German cars. Everyone knows that German cars are superbly designed and constructed, but that's only the beginning...
German houses are fantastic. Even an average house in Germany is constructed 10x better than any house I've ever seen in the USA. The brickwork. The windows and window covers. The doors and the handles for the doors. They are built to last hundreds of years.
This high quality workmanship is reflected in German toys, card games, appliances and more. Even when you go to the grocery store, the food is all really good. The packaging is superb. The quality is high.
What I've come to realize about the German culture is that they have a cultural value of "Whatever you do, do your best." This is the German superpower, they always do their best at whatever they do. I wish Americans would adopt this value.
Next, let's look at China.
And for China, I've uncovered two superpowers. The first is adaptability...
When you go to China, most Westerners are shocked at chaotic the driving is. They don't stick to the lanes. They hardly care about stop lights or stop signs, and they don't care about cutting someone off while they are driving 65 mph on the highway (seriously, at 65 mph the person in the next lane could suddenly change into your lane two feet in front of you).
In New Zealand - a popular vacation spot for Chinese citizens, Chinese drivers are frequently involved in accidents. New Zealanders consider Chinese people to be horrible drivers, but this is not true. It's simply that the New Zealand and the Chinese way of driving are completely incompatible. Chinese drivers are typically highly skilled at their type of driving.
Here's what I have noticed. The Chinese type of driving perfectly reflects a key value of their society; they are highly adaptable. They don't expect you to drive in your lane. They don't expect you to follow the rules of the road. They literally expect the unexpected. They are always aware that the situation on the road could change at any time, and they're ready for it. If someone cuts them off, they don't get upset, nor do they honk their horn.
This is how they live their lives, and it's how they approach business. They are highly adaptable.
Another trait of Chinese people is completely different from the German value of, "Always do your best". Instead of always doing their best, the Chinese way of doing things is, "Always do just enough." This drives most people crazy in the West, but the Chinese are masters of figuring out exactly what the minimum acceptable level of quality is, and they've mastered the art of engineering products in this way.
This is actually highly efficient, and it's one of the reasons that China is so successful. For most Westerners though, this value that the Chinese have is not compatible with their desire for high quality, but it's important to understand why China is so competitive.
This brings us to USA...
What are the values that make the USA so great?
Americans value individual freedom, and a distrust of concentrated centers of power (the enemy of individual freedom). Our desire for individual freedom is at the core of everything America stands for. It's at the heart of the Constitution, and the "American Dream". This is why people from all over the world still want to come here. We are great because of our freedom!
Yes, this individual freedom is under attack like never before, but we will stay great as long as we hold onto these ideals!
What are some positive values that you can identify in other cultures? Please comment below.