Are you as fed up as I am with the amount of negativity and pessimism that exists in this country? Watching the 10 o’clock news does not make for a happy bedtime. Almost every media report is slanted towards the negative – for example, what the NHS is failing to do rather than the daily miracles they perform. The press have the power to shape our perspectives and beliefs and drama sells newspapers so inevitably stories can be ramped up to catch the public’s attention. Our political leaders reinforce these messages by talking of division and a “broken Britain”. The worst thing is that we end up believing it! We need more balanced perspectives.
This morning we happened to re-read some paragraphs of Napoleon Hill’s Success through Positive Mental Attitude. The passages reminded me how important his message of a positive mental attitude is to happiness, health and success.
Hill’s message also reminded me of an initiative I had wanted to set up way back in 1995 to “Think Positively for Britain” . I don’t know if you remember but the recession of the early 90s had put us in the doldrums and I became aware that we are very good at the doldrums in the UK, that we have a habit of denigrating ourselves and being apologetic for more-or-less everything we do or stand for. And I felt then, as I do now, that such negative messages only lead us into a state of paralysing disempowerment. As I wrote in my report in 1995 “every time we talk negatively about the UK we bolster the image of a failing and disintegrating nation”. Do we really want the rest of the world to see us and respond to us in this way, particularly when Messrs Barnier and Juncker are happy to do this for us?
It seems to me all the more urgent now that we shift ourselves out of this gloom. How can we bring up a confident new generation when the messages that young people receive are that they are in a country that is about to fall off a “cliff-edge”? We need to inspire the young to rise above the negativity and create success despite the very real challenges we face in the world. Positive expectations, when based in realistic possibilities, motivate others to step up. We need our leaders to talk of unity and vision and what each of us can do to help achieve this.
We have a tradition in this country of helping entrepreneurs and supporting small businesses. Start-ups are given tax relief and concessions on VAT until their business is established. In July this year the employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who are in work) was 74.9%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971. Our youth unemployment figures are 12.3% compared to up to 46% in Greece and many young people in the UK want to, and do, start their own businesses – our tech companies are thriving as are our design, music, fashion, film, life sciences and service industries. That’s pretty good news as far as I am concerned.