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My daughter swam for a team in the USA, which had a nice inspirational motto: “Success before work? Only in a dictionary.”

Swimmers, like most athletes, know that it’s a grind to become good. Lots of laps. Repeating strokes. Turns. Dives. Kicking. Arms and legs working in good combination. Small margins for errors. Disqualification for small technical mistakes, some of which will be denied for ever. Attention to details.

My daughter swam at the weekend, and did very well overall, with times that showed she was at good standard for her age. She was proud, and rightly so. So were her parents and coaches. But, she had one little blemish. She was disqualified from her breaststroke event, after doing a good time. Apparently–and she denies it happened :-)–her feet were not still at the start. Breaststroke is a beast for technical details. What was galling was that one of her team mates had spoken about how the same mistake had cost him a race, and he’d come in ranked second in the overall event. Some say that the best way to learn is through mistakes”

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”–George Bernard Shaw

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”–Johnny Cash

Much as I may see merits in those sentiments, I also know that if you keep making the same mistakes, chances are you will not be successful. Much of your work will be in vain.

Jamaica is in danger of doing just that. It’s made a lot of mistakes. In economic policy management, these have been costly, literally and figuratively. WIthout belaboring the point though, we can just look at what the latest World Bank rankings are for Ease of Doing Business. Jamaica sank another three places, to #94. Going in the wrong direction, for sure, though there are signs that some things are improving. It’s not alone, because other English-speaking economies are suffering a similar or worse fate, so The Bahamas, Barbados, and Trinidad experienced worse declines in terms of number of places. They’re all doing wrong by business and not correcting it.

Is there something in the waters of the Caribbean sea that has infected us all with a certain anti-business virus? Despite all the talk, we just don’t get what needs to be done to give business what it wants and needs to succeed. I cannot get into the minds of governments and their bureaucrats, but I understand a little about how organizations and people function. There’s a lot wrong in terms of how the supposed facilitators do much to be harmful and hurtful, in pursuit of things that are as much about personal issues as they are about matters of fundamental principles. Bottom line: we have not figured out that helping businesses works to our benefits. The examples are there in bucketfuls, but they don’t matter if those who need to learn are not prepared to. We wont succeed because we wont work on what is needed to succeed.