By Phar Kim Beng
Strategic Pan Indo-Pacific Arena
Twitter: @indo_pan

— — —

Malcolm Gladwell is a famous author who can literally get away with murder. How? Well, he can write on the flimsiest subjects, such as how the mind works in a snap of fewer than 2 seconds and gains immediate renown the world over. “Blink” is how the mind, operating in what Malcolm Gladwell called ‘adaptive unconscious’, can understand an issue immediately, even if a person or a product is a fake. The problem is we are often “strangers to our own mind”. With all the blizzard of information out there, our mind is often confused and confounded. Hence, the “adaptive unconscious”, as a matter of default, has begun to lean on scientific methods, X rays, committee meetings, extensive deliberations, even war room simulations, to understand the obvious.

In English, this is akin to making a mountain out of a molehill, something which the academia and the consulting industry, in order to milk everyone dry, has specialized in. They talk more than they deliver, hence the phrase those who know leads, those who don’t teach.

“Blink” for the lack of a better word, is a catalog of all the people and events who have lost that ability or courage, to make swift, fast, and quick decisions. Instead, afraid of making any faux pas or false steps, they dillied and dallied, all on the assumption that sheer delay and procrastination can at least allow an issue to be seen from a different angle.

“Blink” challenges all the conventional wisdom of the experts, except the rare few. There are some experts that rely on science and methods to get their first diagnosis right, but there are others who rely on intuition, instinct and snap impression, to get the dynamics right. “Blink” is on the side of those who can think fast, and on their feet, a virtue that can only be defined as ‘adversity quotient’. Some of the best decision-makers in history are not mentioned in blink. But Mahatma Gandhi knew the weakness of the British Empire, especially its vulnerability to strategic nonviolence. Malcolm X, as opposed to Martin Luther King, knew that the US would not change overnight, especially on racism.

He called for constant mobilization and reorganization, rather than mere constitutional improvisation. Deng Xiao Ping, in China, knew that a Maoist China was failing, and switched the country to a different development trajectory.

More importantly, President-Elect Trump, knew that if he “drained the swamp” by drawing on the millions of unhappy voters, he could win, and he did. In this sense, “Blink” cuts both ways. Visionaries use it, but so do the hustlers in the street.




Founder of Strategic Indo-Pacific Arena (

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Phar Kim Beng, PhD

Phar Kim Beng, PhD

Founder of Strategic Indo-Pacific Arena (

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