Stuck in the Middle

Have you found yourself stuck in the middle?

There are many times when we find ourselves in ambivalent positions. Ambivalence, as my psychology professor Dr M.T. Paul defined it, is a contradictory attitude or feeling towards an object, person or concept. We fluctuate between positions; we are uncertain or indecisive because of mixed feelings as there could be both positive and negative components making it difficult to take a stand on an issue. An ambivalent attitude leads to uncertainty and indecisiveness in taking a stand. Questions such as the following can be very challenging when you hear persuasive arguments from both proponents and opponents:

  • Do we allow for retirement funds to be withdrawn due to the pandemic crisis?
  • Do we allow for English to be the medium of instruction in schools or should we use our own language to connect us to our roots?
  • Do we accept the recent US Supreme Court ruling on abortions?

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remarked “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Yet, on numerous occasions, I have found myself stuck in the middle. As a professional manager and entrepreneur for over 40 years, many a time I have found myself ‘Stuck in the Middle’ in a dilemma. Fareed Zakaria, the famous columnist and author, says that post-pandemic, we don’t have a dilemma – we have a trilemma. Borrowing a term from the computer world, he says that in any system, of these three characteristics – open, fast and stable – you can only have two.

This is what prompted me to start my podcast Stuck in the Middle and explore on this podcast divergent views on issues that matter most to us. Given that the series is about exploring diverging views, I wanted the first series to focus on the psychology of money given that money is certainly one issue that matters most to us in a post-pandemic world. If psychology is intriguing, so is money. My niece Dr Alagu gifted me the book The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel at a difficult period in my life, and I thought it made perfect sense to start with a review of the book.

Morgan Housel’s book on money offers us some deep insights. Money is everywhere. It affects all of us; it confuses us; and everyone thinks about it a little differently. The book presents 19 concepts summarised in 19 powerful stories. The message is that financial success is not a hard science: it is a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than what you know. Doing well with money is not about how smart we are: it is about how we behave with money. It prompts us to think:

  • When is enough, enough?
  • Why do people see money differently?
  • How do we achieve financial freedom?

With two outstanding panellists Ms Sarah Lian, a TV personality and Edly Alias, a millennial financial blogger, we kicked off the inaugural podcast of Stuck in the Middle with the Psychology of Money.

Watch the inaugural episode.

Posted in Life Experiences, Thoughts
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