[Letters] Change the paradigm of “spec.”

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[Letters] Change the paradigm of “spec.”

Last week, my friend from El Salvador who visited Korea asked me a question.

He said: “What is ‘spec?’”

He read a something in an English newspaper that said “raise your spec” and he didn’t understand what it meant.

I gave him a simple answer but my realization that spec emphasizes only trivial things hit hard.

The word 『“spec”』 is perceived as both a restriction and a goal for young Koreans.

It is an abbreviation for a specification and was included in a new coinage source book by the National Institute of the Korean Language in 2004.

Spec is actually a sum figure that shows one’s ability, and includes what university you attended, certificates received, English test scores and property possession status.

The youth are wasting energy getting captured by this standardization when they should really have more diverse experiences and learn about important things.

Moreover, challenging the world is a lost art.

For example, some fields that our youth might get into may not require a high English score and it is a more efficient and effective alternative to spend time and passion on cultivating the core capability needed in one’s field, both personally and socially.

If this “spec” paradigm can be changed, then our society can have more creativity and flexibility.

Spec must be viewed as a general base of thinking and value judgment towards the outside world by an individual rather than an external standard used by companies to assess or judge an individual.

In other words, we should view spec as one’s foothold for a meaningful and independent life, not a passive figure of oneself shown to others.

And our society will develop one step further when this subjective effort arouses sympathy and is recognized in society.

Back to that man from El Salvador that I have known for five years now. He’s a distributor of baked goods and says the important thing in selecting a new employee is how much passion and knowledge the applicant has.

An applicant’s personality is perceived through various experiences and one’s suitability for work is judged by how much an applicant knows about the bakery market, not by one’s educational background or English test scores.

It was very impressive how applicants for this company write down their values and life goals and what methods they used to achieve them.

This selection system has helped lead the company to 15 years straight of surplus growth.

Of course, the turnover rate for employees is almost none.

Let’s make a spec that holds vision and values to be the highest standard.

For instance, develop servant leadership through continuous volunteer activities.

And don’t forget to obtain special knowledge about the related subject for more systematic volunteer activities.

Then this young man can live a true meaningful life through the realization of values of volunteers just like Lee Jong-wook, the former director-general of the World Health Organization.

The spec in this changed paradigm will be a reliable life compass when one is making his or her way through the world.

And when these efforts are cultivated, the world will be a great lighthouse to greet him safely.


By Pae Ki-pyo, CEO of Copetition Consulting Company Limited and Certified Public Accountant of the U.S.Delaware State

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