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The life of pie

Publishing Date : 04 July, 2018

Stuart White
The World in Black-N-White



“There's only so much we can do in Botswana.” someone said to me the other day.   “We have to accept our limitations: small landlocked country, giant neighbours, dependency on diamonds, low competitiveness…” And so the spew of negativity continued as I listened to limiting beliefs, pessimism and a scarcity mentality which included jobs going to foreigners.


Personally, I am feeling particularly upbeat about our future these days. I can see the beginning of change and sense the possibilities that go with political leadership that is saying the right things necessary for opening mindsets and growing the economy. Not so with this individual whose thinking was that there is only so much pie to go around, and if you get some there will be less for me.

His win-lose paradigm is typical to those who view attracting talented foreigners to Botswana as a threat. We face a lie that acts like a virus in Botswana.


And that lie is the one about the tiny pie and the queue to beg a slice, along with ‘we need to protect our jobs from foreigners’ and it stems from this scarcity mindset. Part of the truth is that there is not enough jobs at the moment – at any level - but of course it is most glaring at the school/university leaving level. But is it exacerbated by bringing in foreigners who will start business ventures or manage within our companies?


What if we flew in the world’s 100 best managers into Botswana and gave them jobs in our top companies?  What the impact would be? It is probably obvious. It’s a great case for considering reducing the red tape and the hurdles one must jump over and other administration stuff to get a work permit and encourage talent to come to Botswana to work. How would having these managers impact the economy or would it just be a case of 100 less jobs for Batswana?  I am tempted to believe that these managers would grow existing businesses, look for new opportunities, develop talent and other positive stuff like increasing the size of the pie or baking some extra ones. This spin off is potentially endless. Bring in goodness to any situation and it spreads more goodness and positive outcomes.


Of course, our thinking is not there yet when it comes to opening opportunities to foreigners and while I respect that the scenario I paint lacks the complexity of the reality, the beauty is in the simplicity and the notion of what if?  Are we limiting our thinking and if we saw the situation somehow differently would we respond and approach the situation differently?



The truth is that limitation is a thought and mind-set which serves no purpose than to, well, er, limit. Abundance is a mind-set that there’s more than enough to go around. There is more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough opportunity.  Michael Beckwith says “There is enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That's the truth.”


A scenario presented to me recently in a book titled ‘The Inside-Out Revolution’, seems appropriate to share. Imagine that a man comes to you for advice. He is about to turn 30 and he has decided that it is time to grow up and take over the family carpentry business. He wants you to share some innovative marketing techniques, work with him on how to make better personal decisions and assist him to incorporate technology to bring the business into at least the new millennium.


You have your coaching hat on, so you can help with this stuff. But even as you are speaking you sense that something is bothering you about the conversation. He is saying all the right things and seems willing to do all the right things and yet something still feels out of alignment. Following your intuition, you do a little bit of research on this person and you find out to your surprise that his name is Jesus and he is from a small town in the Galilean region of Israel called Nazareth. Here is the question do you really want to work with him on becoming more successful in his carpentry business or would you be tempted to try and guide him towards becoming something a bigger destiny, more aligned who they truly are?


When we see this person for who they can be we are inspired to act. A good coach should never offer advice but, I admit to doing it all the time and while I accept it  is a mark against me in terms of following the rules of coaching, I can’t help myself because I believe that sometimes  offering advice is more valuable than letting a lost coachee waste too much time stumbling to find a solution to a problem or heading off in the wrong direction..


I am using this story as an allegory for out national quandary.  Do we just continue with our mediocre carpentry or do we rise to the challenge of being the Son of God?  Translates to ‘Do we want a Botswana as a powerful nation really open for business or would we prefer to remain a small country of small minded-people, limited by its fear of really opening and realising its potential?’  Don’t bother answering – the question is of course rhetorical.


Contrast and compare with Dubai, for instance.  Most people think that Dubai became rich due to it being a part of the Gulf, the oil well of the world, but the major part of around a $100 billion revenue of the state comes from prosperous areas like real estate, airlines and ports. Oil comprises only seven percent of the total revenue whereas the rest of the income comes from heavy investments in industries and land. It came from thinking differently, really diversifying its economy and by inviting outsiders in so locals could prosper.


Yes, Dubai was originally boosted by its underground wealth in a former desert, but it went on to use that as a basis for growth, diversity and economic success.  Now think about Botswana.  It too is largely a desert land and its prosperity too was founded on its rich underground reserves, in this instance diamonds. 


But they were discovered nearly half a century ago, just like Dubai’s oil, yet instead of opening endless possibilities to diversify the economy, it is as reliant on that one single pie, a tasty pie, to be sure as it was back then.  What’s wrong with more pies and dozens of different fillings, just like those available in Dubai?  There’s more choice in their corner shops than in our national patisserie because no-one can be bothered to roll up their sleeves and start making some extra pastry.


What if we flew in the world’s 100 best managers into Botswana and gave them jobs in our top companies?  What the impact would be? It is probably obvious. It’s a great case for considering reducing the red tape and the hurdles one must jump over and other administration stuff to get a work permit and encourage talent to come to Botswana to work. How would having these managers impact the economy or would it just be a case of 100 less jobs for Batswana? 


I am tempted to believe that these managers would grow existing businesses, look for new opportunities, develop talent and other positive stuff like increasing the size of the pie or baking some extra ones. This spin off is potentially endless. Bring in goodness to any situation and it spreads more goodness and positive outcomes.

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