another publication by IMAGE asia

Enlightened long and short-term thinking

Beyond ‘New Year(s)’

The most recent years, the ‘Pandemic Years’, will stand out for many as more negative than positive in many ways and for different reasons. Some suffered economic hardship through business, others suffered deaths and losses through illness or war and others, including children, suffered through physical confinement and imbalanced forms of education and learning.

Resilience, caring for ourselves and others, evolving through challenges and emerging, where possible, with a better approach even if placed in a worse position, have shown that much of humanity possesses a great strength from which individuals and groups can create, share and inspire.

With the passing of a Christian calendar metric (where a ‘round number’ has historically, by virtue of ritualistic superstition, been viewed as an important milestone) and the changing of a number on a calendar or smart phone screen from 2022 to 2023, it is natural for human thought to turn to reflective and planning mode, to see if any strategic decisions can be made to improve situations, relationships and outcomes.

However, the process of forming ‘New Year’ resolutions can in itself be so ritualistic as to be potentially rendered meaningless, and turn what could be an opportunity for long-term change and improvement, into a superficial nod to virtue signaling and breaking internal and external promises or our ‘internal law’.

How can we freshen up our lives, our thinking, our society, without simply rolling off the fitness; charitable-giving; kindness and ‘learn-a-new-art/science’ promises that are as quickly forgotten as the pay-in-advance 20-hour yoga sessions or the promise not to get upset with never-ending supply of driver selfishness on the roads?

I recently read a thought-provoking article by Jemma Kelly in the Financial Times “We should enter the new year with a beginner’s mind” (Financial Times Online 5 January 2023 see: which can be applied to investments, decision-making and legal risk management, whilst improving our lot and the lot of those around us at the same time. Ms. Kelly’s theory was better articulated than mine along the lines of, “If you don’t master something and approach it as a beginner or with a beginner’s mindset’, you will be more enlightened or will become so”. I heartily agree with this sentiment as a foundation for more meaningful longer-term resolutions and objectives. Let me explain further.

All of us possess some forms of skills and expertise in a particular area, be it business or personal skills ranging from a discipline of study to perhaps being able to cook a good meal or organise life better in a partnership. After a while, we start to feel confident about those skills. This can have positive effects but one common issue is that we may become resistant to any new ideas or creative thoughts in an area we feel we have mastered or developed special skills.

Law is a classic example of this issue. Many lawyers are ludicrously indoctrinated with the sense that their job is somehow more important than cleaning or disposing of trash; providing emergency medical services or showing tourists a good time on their holidays. If you don’t believe me, take a peek behind the average lawyer’s door on LinkedIn. It is full of self-congratulatory messages of “having attended a complex seminar”; “moderating a conversation”; being chosen as the ‘top advisor’ by a sponsored paid publication or organisation and the like.

This is not to detract from achievement in a field or to put off young or new legal professionals who are just trying to move up a few rungs on the ladder. However, lawyers are renowned for their pomposity: suit or faux-casual wear (chinos/shirt, smart skirt/trousers blouse) and asking a question or making a response designed to signal intellectual superiority or perceive higher social standing; injecting Latin into documents; insisting on unnecessary corrections that don’t change meaning; labouring points that clients don’t care about (at the client’s cost) and posturing for ego. Where does all the hollowness and illusion of inflated value come from? How to deflate it?

Well, for a lawyer by day, human being by day and night, I would say that starting with a ‘beginner’s mindset, taking care to ensure that clients, colleagues and others aren’t given the impression that you are the smartest person in the room – and should know more about most things than others – is a good path to follow. Learning about new processes; industries; reasons for approaching issues differently; changes to mindset should make all of us, including lawyers, more enlightened.

Beyond law and lawyers, we have many segments of nations under the delusion they are ‘better’ than others. Just look at any nationalistic movement or commentary and you can see this is held up in part by a derogatory observation of neighbours and countries further afield. This mindset moves people away from enlightenment and is a step backwards in the chain of evolution, so much so that there is a danger with such thinking over the long term that these thoughts might trigger regression into ape-like tendencies and more base behaviours.

For example, we perhaps shouldn’t think “our country” (wherever we think that may be if we decided to arbitrarily assess that by place of birth) is “better” than a war-torn country because the war torn country “got what it deserved” through some weird quirkly law of karmic nature or due to religious extremism or intolerance. Perhaps we could adopt a beginner’s mindset on what increased immigration means for the world – not just the migrants but the host countries – and come up with a balanced view on policies, instead of the polarised positions that you are either a ‘racist migrant hater’ or a ‘woolly dreamy migrant lover’. Can’t we just look at whether migration makes overall sense taking into account many perspectives in a particular rational context?

We perhaps could be more enlightened on the evolution of ‘inclusion and diversity’ – that is not to develop this idea with deliberate discrimination which in effect is exclusive and, over the long term, creates diversity for one segment of society at the expense of another.

Currently with a British Prime Minister of Indian and South-African descent, is it time for Asia to open itself up to potentially democratically electing white or other European descent leaders to mingle and create new beginnings and further enlightenment for society and culture?

How can we approach the ideas of inclusion and diversity to inject new life into a jaded extreme exchange and overall improve our environment without destroying it? In the animal world, an ecosystem doesn’t always thrive with the introduction of new species. There are certain ecosystems where a particular species should be encouraged to thrive, at the expense of others not suitable for that environment. Are there any crossovers between that and our ‘human world’ that can be used to develop our societies better, to be more peaceful, flourish more and create more happiness and success?

I don’t pretend, by virtue of having read a lot of books (but not more than many others), to know the correct answers to these questions, but I would be very concerned if I met someone who thought they definitively did have the answers and must have ‘better ideas’ than me simply because they studied a particular subject or practiced in an area. Every thought is a potential contribution to a subject, and if that thought is backed by sound reasoning or creativity then there is room for a beginner’s mindset to add value to a pool of experience and learning.

This calendar year 2023, Thai Year 2566, Chinese Zodiac Year of the Water Rabbit, Vietnamese Year of the Cat, Islamic Hijri 1444 – 1445, Vikram Samvat, Rosh Hashanah or whatever else represents a ‘new beginning’, let us consider if we may impose into any ritualistic ‘New Year’ resolutions a beginner’s mindset, cultivate ideas and creativity and not overshadow it all with a smug sense of know-it-all, “been there done that”. There is room for a few more so called “Western or Eastern renaissances” in many aspects of our lives.

Welcome, New Year and New Beginning Mindset.

By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Real Estate; Construction; Hospitality; Corporate; Commercial; Tech; Dispute Resolution; and Litigation, operating from Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia.

 Contact info:

Hughes Krupica Consulting

Hughes Krupica Consulting Co. Ltd
23/123-5 Moo 2 Kohkaew Plaza
The Phuket Boat Lagoon
T. Kohkaew Amphoe Muang
Phuket 83000 Thailand
Tel: (0) 76 608 468

Hughes Krupica Consulting (Bangkok) Co. Ltd
29/41 Soi Ladprao 22
Ladprao Road
Chankasem, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900 Thailand
Tel: (0) 20 771 518

[email protected]