From an excellent Telegraph story on the cratering of the denim trade in China:
In one desolate room, a former factory boss sat on a stool in shame: having lost all of his family’s money, he was too ashamed to return home for the Chinese New Year holiday.
And from a recent episode of Planet Money:
the U.S. system makes it easier for people to start over, and to keep their financial lives going. Our financial system is set up to embrace failure.
I can’t really separate myself from national identity, here – I’m an American through and through, and can neither deny my cultural immersion or a certain degree of chauvinism on this point. I think it’s great that US bankruptcy laws (though less good than they used to be) allow people, by and large, to start again after things fall apart. Indeed, in Silicon Valley failure is often a badge of pride.
So I won’t make a normative judgment on this cultural difference but rather note that I think this is another example of entity versus incremental theories of self in action.To the extent that people can define their professional successes or failures as not self-confirming or -indicting evidence of an essential self but rather as a series of events from which they can learn and improve regardless of outcome, I think that’s a good thing.