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Perhaps we’re hyper critical?

Little Skips, Brooklyn

Why do we as South African’s tend to be insecure and overly critical about the country? It’s good at times to be an insecure overachiever, they make for great employees, but this isn’t constructive when one is unable to recognise success too. Perhaps our insecurity stems from our geographic isolation and belief that anything outside of SA is better? Or, is it because we view Europe/US as the gold standard? I think our mindset needs to change from one of we’re in Africa so things are not of a world standard, to, we’re in SA, a country in Africa. There are areas where we perform well, areas where we’re average and areas where we’re not good, just like you’d find in England or Australia. You’d see a mix of good, average and bad.

Here's a quick anecdotal analysis;


  • I attended a function at a private club in London, the kind that’s been around for 150 years, where you need a membership and tie to enter. The food was fine and service average. I expected more given the prestigious location, but learnt it’s no better than an average five star hotel in SA.

  • Trendy, select coffee shops or bars in London, Copenhagen and New York vs what you find in Cape Town or Johannesburg, are equal to the task. As good in terms of design, service, atmosphere and quality of food and drink. The trend is consistent, but for some reason I thought SA to be of a lesser standard, and have happily been proven wrong!

Working culture

  • Bottom line, no different. People work as hard based on the business culture and demand. Potential performance from employees is based on their purpose, motivation and leadership drive. I’ve found this to be true no matter where you are in the world. The differentiator is based on skill which is linked to education. Some skills are harder to find in SA vs the US/Europe.

  • Workmanship and services are the same. Some providers are excellent and others are weak, whether you are in LA, London or JHB. No difference.

So what does this all mean? Perhaps it means we have an opportunity to think about things differently. Firstly about SA, being able to back ourselves, our businesses, our platforms and our ability. To actually compare where we stand versus simply saying it’s better in Australia or the US. Secondly about your work, your business. Changing your view from it’s not good enough to one of assessing the elements ranging from good to bad.

In Summary: Instead of simply criticising a business, take the time to analyse, categorising elements into Good, Average and Poor. You’ll form a more credible view.

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