[OUTLOOK]Consider well before acceptingThe year has only begun, but the cabinet reshuffle is creating much noise in the government. Since ministerial positions are very important, the process of appointing ministers should be full of hope and ambition. Instead, we are hearing excuses and disappointed voices. Even taking into account that personnel appointment decisions are bound to be controversial and that the administration has started the third year of its five-year term, the aftermath is too messy.
When making an appointment, the position, the character of the candidates, the current of the times and other necessary conditions must match, but the appointments this time seem to be too far from this. It is a lame excuse to say that ministerial appointment is the president’s right. Unwittingly, the appointments have become no longer about choosing the most suitable candidate for the job but a means of rewarding people by giving away powerful positions.
Let’s look at the strict process of becoming a dignitary. It is hard for the so-called respectable elites to volunteer to serve in public positions. Therefore, the scope of choices are limited and appointments are therefore made from among cronies.
A good personnel decision is one in which a competent person gets to take a job he can do well. Therefore, it is unfair to hold the appointer solely accountable for a failed appointment. The appointee has to take half the responsibility. You know your skills and competency better than anyone else. There is a limit to the candidate verification of the Blue House personnel affairs team. For a good appointment to be made, the cooperation of the appointee is absolutely necessary. You should only take a job you can handle well and should decline if you think it is beyond your capability.
Declining an undoable offer helps yourself as well. However, it is a loss for the nation if talented candidates are too modest to take government positions. Here is a check list that potential public servants should heed when offered a position.
First, your ability should suit the job. It is not good if your ability is too large, but the outcome could be deadly if it is too small. You could not only ruin the state administration but also damage your own health. You need to understand that handling government affairs is not as easy or as simple as criticizing them as an observer. The modern world is complicated and rapidly changing. You need more than a mere interest, some knowledge or enthusiasm.
When taking a government job, you need to fear the weight of the task. You have to contemplate whether you have the intelligence, energy and physical health to bear the service. If your ability is too small, you cannot get the job done and will only make people around you suffer. Moreover, you will ruin yourself. I have seen many otherwise capable men stressed out and completely exhausted after taking a task beyond their ability.
Secondly, the timing is very important. Even if you have enough ability, the timing has to be right for you to fulfill the duties. Just as you cannot reverse the flow of a river, you have to change along with the changes of the time. You have to work as part of a team in government and therefore, you must be able to keep pace with your colleagues. Sometimes, you cannot succeed all by yourself. With good teamwork, you can accomplish far more by working in unison. A person who has been in a high-ranking position too long or has returned to a position in which he served before is rarely successful. Instead, he often damages his reputation in the second stint. You can disgrace your name if you take a job at the wrong time.
Thirdly, you need good luck. Even if your ability and timing seem appropriate, you are better to decline an offer if you tend to be unlucky in life. Good luck brings you an auspicious force. When you are generous to others, you can make friends, who follow and help you. If you earn someone’s bad will, their enmity and jealousy could hinder your career. In the past, you could have been successful only by currying favor with the highest authority. However, today, you have to stand on your own, and you might need the help of your friends. It is hard to know whether you are lucky or not. But if you look back on your own history, you will best be able to know. A more simple way is to observe your own face in the mirror.
When you are offered a government post, it is advisable that you consider the aforementioned three criteria and make a prudent decision. You can take the public position and serve the nation, but you might do a more patriotic service by declining it. You need to know that by turning down a position you cannot handle, you help not just the appointer but also yourself.
*The writer is a columnist for the JoongAng Ibo. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Choi Woo-suk