October 18, 2013

– Moving from “We need to do something” to “let’s get things done now!”

Fri Oct 18, 2013

The Mind-Set Shift

Submitted by Bank of Nova Scotia
For Financial Information Month 2013

Procrastination is a phenomenon that affects every person in every walk of life. From farmer to baker, to lawyer or mason, student or banker; each person is faced with this issue, the overwhelming urge to regularly postpone actions that should be – and could be – completed at a particular moment. Procrastination, however, should not be seen as merely the inability to complete an action due to a failure to prioritise properly, that is identify what should be done, in what order, and even which means the item at hand should be done.{{more}} Very often, persons can clearly identify what should be done and how it should be done but lack the force of will to get the action completed. Even more so, persons can identify what should be done, in other’s lives, but are unable to apply this teaching to their own. Shakespeare came to this same conclusion in his great comedy, The Merchant of Venice, with the words, “I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”

This issue does not only apply to individual lives, but to the wider society today. Of course, it would, considering that society is just a summation of all the individuals in a particular area, who are often working towards a common goal. Therefore, our individual traits become dominant ideals held by a society when many persons engage in the same behaviour, and the struggles of masses are seen as the struggles of all within a society. These ideals and struggles define how our society is viewed by citizens and by outsiders. They set the pace for future development or hinder progress, depending on the nature of the situation.

In the Eastern Caribbean, and the world at large, almost every country is facing economic challenges which are not only influencing the lifestyles and quality of life of those alive today, but also which influence the innovation of the times and the attitudes of the future. This is very plain to see, and is easily discerned in the drive of the world today to make things cheaper, more durable, less complex and more efficient. In every walk of life, to the implementation of farming co-operatives which use goods, labour and money from their members in the manufacture of secondary products form raw materials; to the conglomeration of small bakeries in a district, all making and selling their goods under one name. The times have changed; the ideals of self-sufficiency, sacrifice and tradition have been turned on their heads. These ideals have not been totally done away with, but with globalization have been ameliorated to place partnership, innovation and a willingness to think outside of the usual confines of what fishing, farming, studying – any business – might entail.

This can be seen as truth, where value is now being put onto businesses and institutions that not only can withstand the test of time, but that are adaptable in the various markets and problems that comprise and affect the global financial system. However, businesses and persons in the Caribbean, and other corners of the world where it is easy to forget that the earth is one global economy, have identified the necessity of a change in approach to make a confident, financially secure stand in the global market today, but are slow to change to suit the changing times. Businesses identify the approaches they need to take to become more financially stable, marketable or profitable, but are slow to take the first few steps in the right direction, and consumers identify the changes they need to make in their lives to achieve financial security and realise their goals, but still take laboured steps towards the journey to security. For those who are unable to identify what needs to be done in their businesses or lives to yield rewards, there are persons dedicated to handing out knowledge and imparting lessons learned from years of study or experience, who are available in almost every financial institution, but who find it difficult to get persons to talk to them, let alone listen to or implement their ideas.

This is due to the attitude of complacency, where persons can clearly identify what needs to be achieved but choose not to realise these goals because of mental inertia, fear of the unknown or indifference to the situation; identify the need to do something, but not thinking you need to be the one to step up and actually do something. It is this form of procrastination, which has resulted in local businesses in the Eastern Caribbean being driven out of their market share by foreign investors who choose to work harder or smarter at the same field, and it is the same form of procrastination that allows persons and business to continue non-beneficial or even self-destructive behaviours until it is too late to properly salvage the situation. The fact that these issues are rampant in our Caribbean society has resulted in these unfortunate situations being defining factors determining how persons conduct and handle business in the region. It is sad to say but the slow rate of change or adaptation of Caribbean businesses has become their downfall, and adds to the overall lack of confidence consumers in the region feel in the businesses and financial institutions.

It would be improper to suggest what general remedies should be put in place to correct this attitude in persons and businesses in the region. After all, not every remedy would heal what ails everyone. However, the first step is one in which most have already taken, to identify what needs to be done. After this, one needs to put a conscientious and detailed plan together of how the goals detailed are to be achieved. Making confident steps in the right direction a goal can be realized that could successfully aid in creating financial security and stability of businesses and individuals in the region Remember, Rome was not built in a day, but there was a day one of construction.