Sometimes it feels, lately, as if the whole world has gone mad and that we, as individuals, have been left with no direction.
I recently wrote an 80-page publication (together with my colleagues who contributed and deserve credit) on Africa in a changing global environment. The research I did included reading sixteen documents prepared by various institutions including the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and the World Bank. All of these documents are sending the same message – populism is on the increase. The increase in populism is not doing the world any favours. It is resulting in an increase in trade barriers, a decline in innovation and business sophistication due to a reduction in global sharing and heightened political tensions, world-wide. The ultimate effect of this will be a lesser ability for all economies to grasp the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution and a global reduction in competitiveness, particularly in developing economies where becoming more competitive is vital for future growth and improvements in education and healthcare for their people.
If you interested in reading more about this, you can download the publication here: https://home.kpmg.com/za/en/home/services/advisory/deal-advisory.html
If you are interested in my short television interview in this regard, you can find it at this link: http://www.enca.com/media/video/how-sa-can-attract-foreign-investors
My advice to developing and emerging market economies is to take control of, and improve, the areas that they have control over in their individual capacities as countries. A country on a stand alone basis cannot change the global outlook but it can control activities within its own borders such as ease of doing business, corruption and use of available funds.
I am now offering this same advice to readers of this blog. We cannot change the world. We can only influence our own lives and those of our family members and people we work with and interact with on a daily basis. It is a pointless and unrewarding exercise to feel depressed by world events. Channelling your energy into improving the lives of those around you is much more fulfilling.
Here are my tips on what we can all do to achieve a better immediate environment:
- Smile at other people – there is nothing like a smile to uplift your own spirits and those around you. I generally find that when you smile at someone, they look pleasantly surprised at a minimum and usually smile back;
- Greet people and find out a little about them – I always greet everyone I come across and I try to find out a little bit about the people I work with, from our CEO to the cleaners. People like to feel that you are interested in them and their lives and children and one frequently finds opportunities to offer a little bit of support and help to others just by learning a bit about their circumstances;
- Give to charity to the extent that you can – obviously you shouldn’t give to charity to the detriment of yourself and your own family, but there are many small things that we can do to help others in need. Donating good condition second hand books to schools, charities and Churches is one thing many of us can do and the same applies to unwanted clothing;
- Try to see a need and act on it – in South Africa there is a lot of poverty. There are needy people on the streets who are in need of basic food. I have tins of food in my car which I give to certain beggars on a weekly basis. I give to the same people every week as it feels more useful that way;
- Appreciate the small things in life – enjoy your family and your children. Make time for them and listen to them. I try to have a news session with my boys before bed when they can tell me all their tales of their day at school. It really works well; they appreciate the time to chat to me and the interest taken in their daily lives and I love to know what is going on and to have an opportunity to provide [very subtle] advice; and
- Do something for yourself that you like doing – have a hobby that you enjoy and that lifts your spirits. Work in the garden, bake or read. Choose your poison and take some time for yourself to relax.
I hope this doesn’t sound preachy and self righteous but I really do believe that a lot of our own happiness comes from external factors. Dwelling on your own personal fears and anxieties and being inwardly focussed seems to lead to a downward spiral. I have found, through my interactions with people, that those who focus outwardly seem to achieve the greatest personal happiness.
Wishing everyone a peaceful and relaxing Easter break (regardless of how you celebrate it!).
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series