When it comes to being blessed with an abundance of the necessary resources for development, both in terms of raw materials and human talent and skill, the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean can collectively hold their own against the finest and best to be found anywhere in the world.
Our tiny region has so far produced two Nobel laureates in the late Sir Arthur Lewis and the late Sir Derek Walcott, both nationals of St Lucia, for their outstanding contributions in economics and literature respectively. We can add a third by including the Trinidad-born novelist, VS Naipaul, who also won the Nobel literature prize. However, it seems he no longer identifies with the region.
In the game of cricket which originated in England as a gentleman’s sport, the all-conquering West Indies team, symbolizing the true power to be found in the unity of the region, dominated every aspect of the game at the international level from the 1970s through to the 1990s. In the process, our lads inflicted humiliating defeat after defeat on the teams of countries with far greater resources like England and Australia.
The lessons of these inspiring success stories bear testimony to the fact that when it comes to achieving and making our mark on the global stage, it is certainly not beyond our ability as a people to do so. Yet, for various reasons, the development prospects of our region appear to be steadily diminishing as the economies of individual countries, including our own Barbados, grapple with severe budgetary, debt and anemic growth problems which are contributing to a decline in the standard of living.
It seems, in examining evidence related to the current economic predicament of individual countries and the region as a whole, that we may very well be our own worst enemies with some of our actions contributing to undermining the realization of the region’s true development potential along with external pressures. In a thought-provoking contribution carried in this publication last Friday, performance psychologist Dr Rudi Webster hit the nail on the head by drawing attention to the absence of a right mindset which is so indispensable.
“Too often, we in the Caribbean believe that we are not good enough; something is missing; and something needs to be added to make us worthwhile,” he said. “And we constantly look externally to find the secret of success even though it already lies within us. At a conscious and unconscious level, we have the inner resources and inner potential to solve our problems and bring about lasting and beneficial changes in our lives.”
What invaluable food for thought from one of our own outstanding sons! Winning, which translates into the achievement of strategic goals and objectives either at an individual or national level, always begins in the mind through the adoption of the right mindset. It was the Roman poet, Virgil, who, in his epic work, The Aeneid, made the point of “Possunt quia posse videntur”. Translated to English from Latin, it means: “You can do it if you believe you can do it” which is the longstanding motto of the Lodge School.
In seeking to effectively tackle and bring an end to the protracted economic crisis which has dogged Barbados for the last nine years, such a winning mindset is necessary. If we believe in the collective national mind that we are masters of our fate and destined to win, there is hardly any obstacle which could succeed in impeding our progress. Having a winning mindset, in turn, will trigger behaviours that will support advancement of the strategic objective.
We draw again on Dr Webster’s wisdom. “We should therefore tap into that inner potential and design systems and strategies that would change the projectory of our lives. Modification of the way we think about ourselves and a change in the things we believe, value and picture in our minds would be a first important step. The thoughts and images that we imprint on our minds today determine what we become tomorrow.”
In several countries outside of the Caribbean, there are outstanding regional nationals who are excelling in various fields of endeavour and making significant contributions to the development of their adopted countries. Had they remained in the region, it is debatable whether they would have risen to such heights of achievement. The “can’t do” or “can’t work” attitude which is prevalent in many of our countries may have sapped their creative energies. A “can do” attitude is conducive to building the kind of success the region needs.
Dr Webster’s insightful analysis appeared in last Friday’s edition. If you have not read it as yet, it is worth doing so. It is required reading with a tried and proven formula for success which is everyone’s dream.