13 January 2010

Am I a Product of my History?

Tuesday 12th January 2010

Why is it that I have spent a lifetime trying to build a legacy instead of concentrating on my own financial security? Probably due to my education which created a responsibility in me to want to make the world a better place. And of course, I find this such a mammoth task that I become negative.

According to popular pub talk most people are hypocrites - their true desires are not for self improvement or to fight for justice or fairness. Most people just want a job to finance their aspirational lifestyles - and they will do whatever it takes to get the job - if it is a piece of paper that will get them the job, they'll either forge it or toi-toi to get it. They do not want to see past a fancy car, designer clothes, good food, drink, and fun in the sun. No wonder we cannot make a dent in our social problems - marriage and family are not very well supported or respected - hence the unstoppable spread of AIDS with all its devastating effects. Success is measured by money and not by achievement. Most people don’t want to think too much about anything more than how to finance their next item on the conveyor belt of insatiable greed.

So what is it that I want to do about it? I suppose I naively want to put a dent in this flow of consciousness - make people aware of their personal responsibilities to develop real skills, not just paper qualifications, so that we can all help build the country’s assets instead of just plundering them. We need to take up the challenge and compete with the rest of the world on an equal footing - we can do it, we have done it before...

While South Africa concentrates a major part of our efforts in creating more and more government jobs, the gravy train jobs, the slow train to nowhere jobs, the world is galloping past us developing cutting edge expertise. And even though we are spending more GDP on education and training than most countries in the world, it is horrifically evident on the lack of skill that exists. In fact, I see a progressive and evident increase in functional illeteracy, this in the twenty first century, in a world thirsty not only for expertise but more importantly, for state of the art skills. There appears to be a lack of understanding of how the world works. We do not want to accept that the world rewards innovation, productivity, speed, application, relevance. However we reward incompetence, laziness, corruption and stupidity. I dont know why this is because there are intelligent people - many intelligent people around - I meet quite a few.

Ok, so as this is a positive column I will focus on how can I turn this around? Well I don’t really know how - that’s my problem. To find a way to positively influence the status quo, I have to understand the thinking of the majority of the people living in my country, that is the black people. I am reading Antjie Krog’s book, ‘Begging to be Black’,in which she is grappling with the same questions, hopefully once I complete it I will have more insight.

For now I will use Mahatma Ghandi to guide me as he wisely stated that we 'have to be the change we want to see'. If I desire to live in a country that produces people with world-class skills, I have to start with me - I have to become world class. I know that I have enough education and am smart enough (according to Malcolm Gladwell to be successful, that's all I need laced with some luck). However what I do need is a compelling product or service and a strong belief in myself. So here goes…… my positive thought for today is that I live in a country with immeasurable opportunity to develop a world class business – I have the know-how, and there are resouces available to help me do this. All I have to do is go out and do it - I can't blame history, I cant blame anything or anyone, if I cant get this right.... opportunity is there for the taking ..... I just have to open my eyes, open my mind and most of all open my heart to take in all that is on offer...............

Till tomorrow .....

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