We are not poor because…

We are not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature was cruel to us. Japan has limited territory, is 80% mountainous, but is like an immense floating factory. Switzerland, does not grow cocoa but produces the best chocolate in the world.

Nations are not poor because of the age of the nation. Greece and Egypt are more than 2000 years old and are considered poor countries today. Canada, Australia and Singapore, which were relatively insignificant 200 years ago, are now regarded as developed and rich countries.

There are no intellectual differences between people from rich, developed nations or those from poor undeveloped ones.

Race and skin color are also not important. Immigrants labeled lazy in their countries of origin are the productive power in countries they choose to settle in.

What then is the difference?

The difference is the ATTITUDE and the MINDSETS of the people.

Those are moulded by years of education, strong leadership, the right behaviour and the ability to change with the times

On analyzing the behavior of successful (rich and developed) countries, the great majority abide by the following principles:

  • Ethics and honesty
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Respect for the laws & rules
  • Participation in the nation’s growth
  • Respect for the rights of other citizens
  • The effort to save and invest
  • The will to be productive
  • Punctuality

Only a minority of poor countries follow these basic principles.

The lessons above are just as easily applied to business, and the burning question remains – how do you effectively shape ATTITUDE AND MINDSET in an organisation to get the results you want?

In his book, Conditions for Competence – A Blueprint for Excellence, Dr Jay Hall outlined three key conditions for competence: Collaboration, Commitment and Creativity – I believe these relate equally well when it comes to mindset and attitude.

Before I get to that, let’s agree that mindset and attitude are controlled and determined by our individual team members, but are influenced by the environment and culture we create. There are only two types of mindset: growth (proactive) or fixed ideas (reactive), and each of the conditions have their proactive and reactive versions:

Collaboration vs Co-operation

Collaboration is the trigger and it starts with leadership. The credibility of, and access to, leadership along with a set of shared values. Collaboration avoids the perception of “us and them” and implies that everybody is working towards a common goal.

Commitment vs Involvement

There is an old anecdote that says the difference between commitment and involvement is “bacon and eggs”. With bacon and eggs, the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed!

Commitment brings the energy, and it starts with everybody being on the same page and knowing what is needed and wanted. It also has to do with reward and recognition, a subject on its own. Simply put, are people recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for when they do things right? And no, it does not have to revolve around money!

Creativity vs Tradition

How often have you heard the response “we’ve always done it this way”?

Mindlessly operating out of habit leaves the business ripe for disruption by a competitor. Driving creativity up means constantly being open to new ideas, encouraging a problem solving and solution driven culture, being prepared to take a calculated risk, and putting the thinking where it belongs. In short, it is about the ability of people to express themselves.

Where would you rather be?

I would suggest that a rich company has a committed team collaborating creatively, whereas the poor company has an involved group of individuals doing their own thing the same old way.

I know where I would rather spend 8 hours a day!


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