Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Australian success will come from tall poppies

Back in 1943, Abraham Maslow developed the theory we know as "Maslow's hierarchy of needs".  Simply, humans will ensure that they satisfy more basic needs first, before they satisfy more advanced needs that are higher up the hierarchy.

First we need food, water, shelter and sex.  Next we need to be physically and emotionally safe. Then we need love and belonging, relationships followed by self-esteem.  Finally, we want to be the best we can be, to self actualise.

Don't chop down the tall poppies

Australians have a habit of being critical of people who strive to achieve, unless it is in sport.  So, let's think about what this means we are doing.  Once an individual has achieved their more basic needs, they will naturally strive to achieve greater self esteem.  Among young children, we advocate this very strongly - they must feel good about themselves.

Yet, among adults, when they strive and succeed, we feel entitled to criticise. We are saying to them - you are higher up the ladder than I am, so I'm feeling uncomfortable about that.  Comparatively, that's hurting my self esteem.  So, I'm going to chop you down.

We don't do it to our sportspeople, because we are all on the same team.  When Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, we all won. Our self esteem rose together.

By denying others the basic human motivation to achieve more self esteem, we are denying it to ourselves.  We must stop chopping down tall poppies.

It's about being better in everything we do

Should I only strive for a mediocre meal?
When we deny others the right to succeed and better themselves, we are denying that to ourselves as well.  Tonight, I cooked salmon, mushrooms and asparagus for dinner.  If I cook a good meal, I'll likely get thanked (as I did). My self esteem gets an uptick.

Is that enough? Well no.  If I don't seek to do better, and exceed those standards, soon I won't be getting thanks, I won't be satisfied with my own performance and I won't be happy with myself.  If I do better, the salmon will be perfect every time.  The presentation will improve more and more, the asparagus tender and not woody, and so forth. 

If I did really, really well, who knows - I could finish up on Masterchef! Is that the moment when Australia would start to chop me down, just as I am reaching the very limit of my potential?

To improve productivity we must champion our successful citizens

The same applies in all walks of life.  The more successful that individuals are, the more of their potential that they are achieving, the more visible success (often money) that they gain.  It is these people who are successful (and generally wealthy) who are improving our productivity.  It is these people, who are improving our productivity, who are improving the quality of life for all Australians.

No, it's not the same as Ronald Reagan's rhetoric that a "rising tide lifts all ships".  That was just an excuse not to ask wealthy citizens to pay their fair share of taxes.  It's about creating a culture of success, just like Cadel Evans' team does with him.

When we notice an individual achieving more, we must applaud it - regardless of what field of endeavour it is in.  Let's all promote each other's self esteem and increase our productivity and success.

Let me know what you think

Mark S

No comments:

Post a Comment