“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” – Proverbs 13:14

I have stated in this column before that the purpose of life, in my ‘book’, is to create happiness and avoid pain for oneself and all those within one’s sphere of influence. This is the ideal. In my experience, one will never make a perfect score of – all happiness and no pain – because of the complexity of the human being manifested by one’s physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional needs, on the one hand, and the unpredictability of the external environment over which we have no control, on the other.

Adversity Quotient (AQ) is the science of human resilience – www.peaklearning.com/. People who successfully apply AQ perform optimally in the face of adversity, which is made up of the challenges, big and small, that confront us each day. In fact, they not only learn from these challenges, but they also respond to them better and faster. For individuals addressing the daily challenges of life a high-AQ equips you to expertly manage the recovery process. We as individuals should therefore all “register” in the AQ “faculty”.

On the personal front, we have just lost a family member. Last week Lesley Barrow collapsed and soon after died in the prime of her professional career. She was the daughter of national hero, Prime Minister and Father of Independence the Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow and Mrs. Carolyn Barrow.

I recall that as a senior cousin (her father and my father were first cousins), I was called upon to be with the Barrow family in the 1950s when Uncle Errol was in the hustings laying the foundation of his political career. As a result Aunt Carolyn skilfully assigned me baby sitting duties for both Lesley and her brother David who were still at a tender age.

Even before that I recall that in 1950 when Uncle Errol returned to Barbados with his bride, Carol as he called her, who hailed from New Jersey in the USA, they stayed at my parents’ house until they found their own accommodation.  This is indelibly etched in my memory because I had to give up my bedroom as part of the space reallocation process.

The extended Springer and Barrow families have remained close throughout the generations that have followed. Lesley’s untimely demise has immediately manifested itself as a major blow to her family, close friends and work colleagues, past and present. Death of the flesh is an irreversible process so the best we can do is to ask ourselves what can be learned from the life of Lesley (who was my mother’s god-daughter), while managing the emotional make-up of homo sapiens. One does not expect one’s juniors to predecease you and when this happens one has, moreso, to invoke the science of human resilience and also a measure of introspection.

I urge that we pull ourselves together to celebrate Lesley’s life and most of all privately determine what each of us has learned from her during her stay on earth that, through us, will make the world a better place.

For businesses and other organizations including universities, a high-AQ workforce translates to increased capacity, productivity, and innovation, as well as lower attrition and higher morale. In this capacity, we too should all “register” in the AQ “faculty”.

To continue the theme of the “Role of the University of the West Indies” which was pursued a few weeks ago, I received the following questions from a reader “How does UWI foster innovation and entrepreneurship in its various curricula?  Does UWI have a highly sought after cooperative or internship program with industry and research centres? Maybe it does and I am just not aware.”

The reader went on “Unless UWI implants itself in the challenges above and not be viewed simply as a place to get a degree and a degree mill, its role and relevance to the Caribbean will be greatly diminished. It was created at the right time with the right purpose – to have an indigenous training institution so that West Indians could be trained at home in an environment of relevance.  UWI trained some brilliant minds.  There is now another realty which has since stepped in. With globalization and a large diaspora, our bright promising youngsters are going abroad to University – and remaining!  Our region is being impoverished in another context – the brain drain”.

There was also a visionary comment from a Minister of Government last week who expressed the desire to create Centres of Excellence in Barbados and to direct the education system more in the direction of mathematics, science and technology to be in keeping with current global demand for resources. The percentage output of the UWI is currently too heavily biased towards the degree of BA “unemployed”. We must use our best brains to find solutions and overcome adversity in order to create an educational workforce to fuel sustainable growth.

In order to grow, in the face of adversity, from a personal, business or university perspective we must graduate from the AQ “faculty” with a qualification in the science of human resilience. We must escape the bridle of death and be showered by the fountain of life.