Have we learned our lessons?

01 February 2021, 10:10 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

I’ll confess to being a little exasperated this week to hear the squabbling amongst various governments about allocations of vaccines available to them. This vaccine nationalism, as some have called it, suggests that many haven’t learned the lessons from the last year that we would have expected. Surely if the pandemic has taught us anything it is our interdependence as a world community. If something going wrong in a market in Wuhan can affect the whole world for years, then that suggests that national barriers are not so relevant as we think they are

Of course, governments want to do what they can to protect their own people, but unless this goes hand in hand with a spirit of generosity to those countries not able to afford or implement a vaccine as quickly as us then a nationalistic attitude will do more harm than good in the long term. If we are to move on from Covid then all nations must think on a world level not just in the interests of their own country. Anything else is short termism at best and downright selfishness at worst.

It is the same with both our personal lives and our business lives. If as people our main motivation is to better ourselves, to climb the social and material ladder, sometimes at the expense of others, then we may well achieve our goal, but be poorer in other ways, in relationships, friendships and family. Thinking of others before ourselves makes us happier and more fulfilled. It’s inbuilt into our neurochemistry as community mammals. Many outwardly successful people complain of loneliness and unhappiness in private despite their outward bravado in glossy magazines and social media.

In our businesses too, if we only focus on the single bottom line of profit and the whole company is geared up to ‘beat’ our competitors and winning, not only may we not achieve those goals but both we and our people may be unhappier as a consequence. Better to look out to benefit our people and those people in our supply chains and community first, and you might be surprised to see the profits following. It won’t happen overnight and building in that outward-looking culture into your company will take time, but the long term results will please you.

Go on, give it a go!

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