Columns

Yes to excellence - we can

JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN

Monday, August 27, 2012    

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TOO many of us are underperforming individuals with a sense of supreme entitlement. It's easy to blame "govament" but we need to take stock of ourselves first. The epidemic of mediocrity that is sweeping this country is the biggest threat to our economic well-being. Do you see what is happening, folks? Underperformance is the new normal. It has become so pervasive that there are whole organisations slumping under the dead weight of folks who genuinely believe that just showing up for work without actually doing the work is enough to justify a pay cheque.

Excellence is not allowed to invade this comfort zone. Excellence becomes the enemy. And so it was music to our ears when we heard a teacher in the centre-of-excellence programme say that her pupils were her customers and should be offered the best. This project is co-sponsored by the foundations of two competitors - Jamaica National and Victoria Mutual Building Societies. The teacher was upbeat and enthusiastic, grateful for the seminars she had attended that had given her a refreshing approach to her profession.

Can you imagine such a teacher, sharing Marcus Garvey's philosophy in schools? Explaining to them that work was not drudgery but the ultimate dignity? We spent an inspiring afternoon recently at Asante Adonai, the homestead of Leahcim and Cecile Semaj in the parish of St Ann. I call Leahcim "Marcus Mosiah's twin" because he shares the hero's August 17 birthday as well as his philosophy. We remember his "Night Doctor" programme many years ago when he and Gordon "Butch" Stewart launched a "Save-the-dollar" initiative which helped to stabilise our currency.

Heavens knows how Cecile and Leahcim have managed with their many other interests, to bush out one-and-a-half miles of driveway from the main road, creating a celebration ground which was the perfect setting for their poetry festival last year. They have an organic farm from which we have tasted sweet pineapples, exquisite blackberries, plump plantains and sustaining yams.

"If someone has to feed you, you are either an animal or a pet," posts Leahcim on his Facebook page, quoting Major Lamey, a former lecturer at the College of Agricultural Sciences (CASE). "I am planting sorrel, corn and pumpkin today," he adds. The enthusiasm of the Semajs is contagious - like a candle that lights many others without losing its glow.

For their own sanity, our leaders should stop making so many promises and work on the empowerment of their followers so they can take responsibility for themselves and their families. We have heard MPs from both sides of the political fence expressing frustration at the expectations of their constituents and we have to agree that some of these requests should be better directed at the fathers of the multiple children who must be readied for the new school year. We need to bring those "dead-beat dads" to book!

The world cannot get enough of things Jamaican - let us get our act together in gratitude to our athletes and their coaches who have shown us our potential if we discipline ourselves and become impatient of anything less than the best.

This new approach will generate employment, bringing a halt to the bashing our government has been getting over the past week. Government employees would realise that they are part of a brand new day for Jamaica and would smile with us when we line up to pay our taxes. Some government agencies can be privatised with Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOP) so that even more jobs can be created instead of any being lost - the TPDCo could become the hub for tourism art and craft production. "Bad mind" would be burnt to ashes and blown away by a fresh new breeze of cooperation. Time come!

Farewell, High Commissioner Grover

Indian High Commissioner Mohinder Grover and his wife Vardeep Kaur bade farewell last Friday after four years of distinguished service in Jamaica. We appreciate the initiatives made by Mr Grover to strengthen relations between our two countries and his role in the contribution of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi to the UWI's Inspiration Garden. We wish this gracious couple continued success as outstanding representatives of their country.

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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