“Some people have a negative attitude, and that’s their disability” -Marla Runyan,
Olympic runner who is legally blind.

Last week the Barbados Tourism Authority mounted the first-ever ‘Barbados Week Philadelphia 2005’. The City of Brotherly Love was immersed in Barbadian music, culture and cuisine. It was surrounded with pulsating rhythms played by musicians from the island and cuisine prepared by award-winning chefs. The city was swept up in all that Barbados has to offer during this week of events highlighting the culture of Barbados throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Amidst all this, it was business as usual in the consulting proposal preparation sphere. Andrea, female associate of my son Bevan, was on a fact finding tour of Jamaica, in this regard, and I had to make my input. We did this by conference call in he evening at the end of her day in the field and just before Bevan was due to participate in the Barbados Week festivities. We were able to successfully complete the call before I became soporifically challenged.

We discussed issues relating to increased competitiveness in Jamaica as a stimulus to economic growth. It turned out that the conversation quite early on focused on an international benchmark. Not surprisingly, Andrea made reference to Singapore and I immediately acquiesced. She however pointed out that there were certain special features about Singapore, in terms of its history, ethnic origin and attitude of its people which may not find perfect parallel in the Caribbean.

For example, the Caribbean was colonialised and then shifted to a vision of independence and sovereignty that was deemed to be an improvement on the status quo at the time. Singapore, on the other hand was created by a push from Malaysia when Lee Quan Yew and a band of Chinese followers were banished across the strait into Singapore. Of course, the rest is history. At this point Bevan indicated to me that Andrea was Malaysian and the conversation shifted to the successes of Malaysia and our common appreciation for its resort island of Langkawi. We then explored parallels with Malaysia in terms of its successful model for development but agreed that the Singapore analogy was more appropriate if only because of its relatively smaller population and size.

We then focused on discussing potential solutions that would contribute to increases in economic growth in the Caribbean and generally concurred that, without high levels of quality, service excellence, productivity, competitiveness and enterprise development, we in the Caribbean would be doomed to failure. If we were unsuccessful in our quest, then poverty and social unrest would dominate and we would continue to be a disadvantaged area of the world, from an average perspective, even though there are obvious pockets of affluence and divine blessings of natural resources.

In planning for the development of countries in the Caribbean or the region as a whole, one must take into account the types of capital available to us and develop them to their fullest potential. Classically the types of capital would include human, intellectual, social, cultural, physical, natural, financial and spiritual. All of these have been addressed to some extent but until we reach full throttle on them all simultaneously, we will be denying ourselves the opportunity to bridge the gap between the developing and developed worlds.

One of the more neglected challenges in the context of capital development is in the area of spiritual capital. This may be defined as ‘a push toward the peak of human achievement’. We must address the spirit, the soul, the divine mind, the analytical mind, trust and the attitude of an individual. To the extent that we are successful in making progress in each of these areas, the collective impact of individual improvement will redound to the benefit of the country or region as a whole.

We must therefore diligently pursue the spiritual capital challenge as it will bring the best out of each of us. What are the requirements here? The Spirit implies a relationship with God the creator. The Soul is your individualized expression of your creative power, the Divine Mind is an awareness of the universe of infinite possibilities and the Analytical Mind cultivates positive belief systems and avoids negative unproductive emotions. Trust is an appreciation of the comfort that we have in going beyond the understanding of our Mind. Finally, Attitude is the manifestation of our understanding of spiritual relationship with others. It is our Attitude towards life and work that propels us to the peak of human achievement.

The 2005 hurricane season promises to provide major challenges. Emily is the second earliest storm in its category since 1851. We have to believe in ourselves despite set backs and remember the words ‘Every setback is a setup for a comeback’. We must practise the Power of Positive thinking, we must be persistent in our efforts to succeed. Whether we are returning nationals readapting to the culture of the Caribbean, whether we are enterprising entrepreneurs, whether we are searching for the network of survival, it is a Positive Attitude that will see us through. We must fight against the disability of a negative attitude and tap into the infinite source of ‘Positive Attitude’ capital.