Every tiny contribution counts more than we think


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We often attribute the success of everything in this world to one person. Very often, the leader or visionary who came up with the idea gets most of the credit, if not all.

It’s easier to acknowledge one person’s effort instead of the whole team behind the success. Remembering one person is easier. It also empowers us because it feels like we all can succeed on our own.

But that’s obviously not true. Nothing is built out of one person’s effort. Even the air we breathe, and the poop we dump is not solely through our efforts.

Likewise, with successful businesses like Apple and Google, they were not built single-handedly (or “double-handedly”) by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, or by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Even mentioning the two duos, it shows how successes were not created from one person’s effort.

Successes always require a team.

I used to think a movie delivering incredible weekend numbers at the box office is only its director’s credit. He or she is, after all, the visionary who has the final say in the direction of the movie. That’s exactly why we refer to them as “directors”, anyway. I realised I couldn’t be more wrong.

Wonder Woman (2017) was not a success just because Patty Jenkins directed it. Every single member of the production crew – producers, screenwriters, and even the extras and coffee boys – was responsible for the success. Arguably, their individual contributions might not be as significant as Jenkins’s, but their combined efforts were instrumental to the movie’s completion.

I had the chance to speak with Jason Teo, the screenwriter (he prefers “scriptwriter”, though, because screenwriter sounds too professional) for JUO Productions, a Singapore video production house. He made me realise this: Not everyone can be a creator, but everyone can be a contributor in one way or another.

I asked Jason if he thinks the average person on the street doesn’t feel excited about waking up because he or she seldom create anything at all but instead, only consume. He disagreed.

Satisfaction comes from contributing in what we believe in.

“It’s not so much about creating, but it’s about contributing. You don’t have to be a painter or writer or singer or actor or whatever to be satisfied with life.” Even accounting, which has nothing to do with the creation of any kind other than the bunch of numbers that give most of us a massive headache, is a valuable contribution.

Jason mentions a fellow crew member (name not mentioned) who is not involved in any of the video production but nonetheless, crucial to the team. She balances numbers and ensures everyone is being compensated for their time and effort accordingly. From claims for broken items and lunch money to talent fees, the JUO team depends on their resident accountant for the prevention of money disputes.

In this context, JUO’s accountant is not in any way involved in the content creation process, but she’s creating a lot of value for the team. And to Jason, that means a lot.

Not everyone’s situation allows for creation, particularly in the idea department.

How many good and innovative ideas can there exist in the world? The fact is, we’re probably at the pinnacle of human innovation. No one invents new products anymore. Innovation is the new norm.

Nevertheless, invention or innovation, any form of creation is only possible with a combined effort. While the idea generation is important, execution is what turns an idea into a reality.

People who come up with innovative ideas are important, but people who contribute to the materialisation of the idea into a product or service are as important.

It doesn’t matter if the average person on the street doesn’t create or even think about creating, what matters is he or she actively wants and is contributing to a cause bigger than themselves.

The world is where it is today not because of the famous names such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs or Larry Page.

The world is where it is today because of the unsung heroes who make their supposedly insignificant little contributions, which amount to huge value towards a higher purpose.

In my chat with Jason, we also touched on topics about entrepreneurship and how leaders are overrated while followers are looked down upon, which I will share more in the next article. Stay tuned.

To end off, here’s one of their most popular videos on their YouTube channel, which was spun into a mini web-series, the Rule Breakers. But the Korean enthusiast in me likes this Descendents of the Sun parody more.

Listen to Anecdotes, a podcast where my friend Timothy and I listen, learn and share inspiring personal stories. Jason Teo, the screenwriter at JUO Productions, was our most recent guest. Click here to listen to that episode.

About the author

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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by Vance Wong


Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.