Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Ian Boyne | Profile of prosperity

Published:Sunday | January 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt
Lee Chin

Everybody wants a prosperous new year. There were many such wishes after midnight last night. But how many know exactly how to achieve that? How many are willing to pay the price?

Thirty years ago this year, in 1987, I created a television programme, Profile, to show people how they could craft a successful life and what was involved in building excellence. I was reading a lot of self-help, positive psychology, and motivational literature in the 1970s that built a fire in my stomach to impart these success lessons. I carefully, diligently studied the principles and practices of success. I was consumed.

In 1972, I read a book that changed my life: Herbert Armstrong's The Seven laws of Success. It turned me on to psychology.

Later, as I moved on to read in the areas of political science, economics, development studies, and sociology, I saw that there was not enough of a connection made between individuals' own motivation and the outcomes of nations. Especially among the Left, there was so much of an emphasis on structures, institutions, and History (with the capital H) and the constraining and overweening influence of those variables, that individual agency was underemphasised.




It was later as I began to look at the East Asian economic miracles and to study how the Asian Tigers had achieved their remarkable economic transformation that I saw empirical evidence for the intersection of culture and economics. The Marxian influence on the social sciences had led to a marginalisation of the stress on culture - norms, beliefs, values. But whether I was studying how the Germans were able to come back after World War II (and it was not just through Marshall Plan funds); or how the Japanese built back their economy after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and amazed the world with their dazzling economic performance; or how the South Koreans joined the rich man's club of developed nations after being dismissed as an economic basket case by the World Bank in the 1950s, I was seeing in all these examples the role of values, positive self-belief and the importance of culture in development.

Andrew Holness, in his prosperity quest for this nation, is talking a lot of macroeconomic matters. But he had better start paying attention to some micro matters; he had better start motivating individuals to personal achievement, motivating them to take certain values and attitudes seriously if we are to realise prosperity nationally. He has the right man in Michael Lee Chin, a self-made billionaire (US Billion), to chair his Economic Growth Council. Lee Chin knows that building successful economies comes as a result of the aggregate efforts of individuals of excellence - more Lee Chins, Butch Stewarts, and Glen Christians - none of whom came from the traditional ruling class in Jamaica.

It is the multiplication of these individual efforts, in addition to macroeconomic reform, reduction in crime and corruption which will give us that five per cent economic growth rate in four years.




As we mention crime. The country has been struck and appalled recently by the number of lovers found murdered. We are not just faced with gang murders. We are faced with men who go mad because their women give them 'bun' or are suspected of giving them 'bun' (being unfaithful). These men's egos can't take that. They get into unbridled rage, which leads to murder and sometimes murder-suicide. If our tourism is growing, infrastructure is booming, IT sector buzzing, and non-traditional exports taking off, but our men are sending up our murder rate and can't control their emotions, what kind of prosperity are we going to have ?

You can't have a prosperous nation when people don't have self-control. Men have to learn to take rejection. They have to learn to take no for an answer. Their egos have to be able to sustain women walking away from them. They have to learn to feel rage and know how to control it. A nation where people can't resolve their disputes without violence is not a nation on its way to prosperity. Its GDP might start to grow and its highways might be taking us distances fast, but we are going nowhere as a nation if we don't deal with these issues of values and attitudes.

If you as an individual are to achieve your dreams this year, you have to have a certain mindset. In the now 30 years that I have been interviewing people on Profile, I have met an extraordinary number of extraordinary people. People who have defied the odds. People who swam against the tide. People who did things others told them were impossible, but they believed they could do it and they found the will long before they could see the way.

Jamaica has to produce more of these people with a can-do spirit if it is to achieve its vaunted 'five-in-four' economic growth.

My profession prides itself on giving people the facts. But people need more than hard, cold facts. They need motivation. They need inspiration. Humans are not one-dimensional. This country cries out for motivational leadership. Our young people, en masse, need to be motivated to excel.

The Bolt story is a story that needs to be told and re-told.

Bolt's success is not just a matter of raw talent. It is a matter of raw discipline. Here is a young man who hates training. Who much prefers to party. Left to his natural instincts, he would party and have fun all day and all night with little time for sleep. But he knows that in order to be successful, he has to get up and train. He has to train till it hurts. The I Am Bolt movie shows not just the glamour of his success, but the drudgery, and, indeed, punishment of his training.




Many envy his success but are not willing to pay the price. Bob Marley, the other famous Jamaican, was known for his Teutonic dedication to work and practice. Those who knew Marley speak of his addiction to rehearsing. It was practice, practice, practice. We must tell these stories to our people so that they know that it is through these individual efforts that Jamaica will become a great nation.

It has been my privilege to tell these extraordinary stories now for 30 years through Profile. Jamaica Broilers, National Commercial Bank, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Sagicor, and Gaspro have stood by me solidly and loyally for years to enable Jamaicans to be inspired and motivated to peak performance.

It's a journalism that is needed in a country where negativity and gloom and doom are given pride of place. Cynicism sells, but it cripples. Yet, paradoxically, that Profile has stayed in the marketplace for all these 30 years - the longest-running non-seasonal TV programme in Jamaica - with high-profile sponsorship shows that people also want good, positive information. They want to be inspired and motivated. They want to celebrate the best in themselves. Only with that attitude can you have a truly happy and prosperous new year.

- Ian Boyne is a veteran journalist working with the Jamaica Information Service. Email feedback to and