Thursday, January 19, 2006

Whatever it takes to succeed?

From Hero to Zero

It can be tough hitting rock bottom after getting used to being at the top. One moment, you're at the loftiest heights of your profession. People fawn over you in adulation, your industry peers worldwide pay rapt attention whenever you utter a single word, you are the pride and joy of your country.

The next moment, everything has been taken away. You've become a source of shame for your contrymen, a pariah in the very same industry which used to lavish so much praises upon you. Never again will you be accepted, never again can you indulge in the things which made your professional life so rewarding.

It's tough crashing back to earth in such a manner.

Scientific Pariah

With that said, I really do empathize with Hwang Woo-suk, South Korea's previously preeminent scientist in the field of Cloning and Stem Cell Research. He used to be the poster-boy (or man) of South Korea's great leaps and strides in the field of cloning. His great intellect enabled him to trounce his western counter-parts in creating the world's first cloned human embryo and the extraction of stem cells from it, and also in creating the world's first cloned dog - Snuppy.

I remember reading about his achievements not too long ago. Just about every magazine I browsed through contained images of his smiling face, along with write-ups expounding on the unimaginable potential of his discoveries. He brought hope to so many people. Finally, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson need no longer be the bane of human society. A cure seemed to be on hand. It was truly a great achievement.

Sadly, what he will be remembered for will not be the advancements he has made in the field of stem cells and cloning. He will go down in history as the scientist who had it all, and who threw it all away due to a string of falsified research data and ethical breaches.

Nobody knows why he did the things he did. Some say it was due to the pressure of staying at the top. Others say it was due to greed, the human lust for fame and glory. Whatever the reasons were, we can only guess.

Only he will know.

The lesson to be learned

I think we all can learn a thing or two from his story. How many times have we been tempted to compromise on our principles just a little in order get what we want? How many times have we said things such as 'Everyone is doing it', or 'Nobody will get hurt' in order to justify our actions?

Even as I contemplate upon this, in the area of my career and business, I hope and pray that I'l always manage to stand firm. To abide by my principles, of what I truly believe in, in the face of adversity.

After all, as has been proven in the saga of Hwang Woo-suk, a little compromise can bring about a great downfall.


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