Mike Butcher wrote a great post recently on the Olympics and how it was pulling the country together and that it might be a positive force for change in the UK.
My world revolves around entrepreneurs and when I look at our athletes in the Olympics I think there are clear parallels. Every athlete entering the Olympics has taken some big risks and made huge sacrifices. They have risked failure, injury and a longer-term career path. They have sacrificed so many other parts of their lives to give them the time and the focus they need to be the best at their sport. They do this for the chance to shine on the ultimate stage, to show that they can do something better than anyone else in the world.
I really hope and believe that the country can be inspired by our athletes and start to get better at celebrating and supporting anyone who is prepared to take risks and make sacrifices in their desire to change the world, or at least their little piece of it.
I think there is a prevailing attitude in the UK that tends towards the negative and the sneering, something that really holds us back as a nation. I don’t want us to lose our sense of humour – this is a really important part of who we are. But it can often run too deeply.
I’m not sure where this came from but I believe it’s cultural and runs pretty deeply. It makes us afraid of change and more likely to take the piss out of something or someone than to have a go ourselves.
As an entrepreneur living in New York I spend allot of time thinking about this and comparing us with our American friends. The yanks might not be perfect but they are definitely more open to change, to new opportunities and will judge things on their merits rather than on ‘how they’re are supposed to be.’ Americans spend more of their time looking to the future rather than the past and almost always believe their best days are ahead of them; it’s generally a positive and optimistic country, even during these difficult times.
Maybe us Brits are frustrated because we used to rule the world and now we don’t? Maybe we are stuck in the past and trying to hang on to our former glories? Maybe this has made us more envious of other country’s and other people’s success?
Whatever the reasons, I think there is a need for us to establish a refreshed identity in the world. One that is connected to the past but more confident about what we are good at and where we are going. There is so much talent and creativity in the UK, I am so sure of that. But I think all too often we are do not provide the support or the encouragement to give full expression to it.
I think that the Jubilee and now the Olympics may have been the catalysts for this change. They have reminded us how good we can be when we put our minds to it. They have perhaps helped us to believe in a brighter future for the country. A future that is freed from the past and reinvented for the 21st century.