Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Cannae dee it" Attitude

I just read Gwen's comment on my last post:

"think you have hit the nail on the head with your comment on the "Cannae dae it" attitude. I have over the years in a variety of jobs, seen many a person with that attitude. No wonder we get nowhere. We have to, as a nation, get ourselves some confidence that we can work hard and build an efficient economy. How do we instill such an attitude? Maybe its down to teachers in schools and parents to start this off at an early age. If it doesn't happen we just won't get anywhere."

"How do we instill such an attitude?" is the question for Scotland right now. Having lived in the country where people believe they can do anything (even fly to the moon...!!) I think I have some suggestions.

Being brought up in Scotland means never "getting above yourself" and participating in self deprecation. To actually admit that you are good at something is seen as a negative personality trait. If you've got a talent you'd better hide it under a bushel.

This is present also in parenting. To tell your kids that they are brilliant is considered a faux paux. To brag in anyway about your offspring is looked down upon.

Things are changing with parenting these days. Children have gone from the Victorian "be seen and not heard" to the center of every family activity. I personally think its gone a little overboard.

I think that in order to instill confidence in Scotland, confidence needs to be instilled in individuals from the start. We need to be proud of our children, we need to be proud of ourselves. Scottish pride seems to only reveal itself when someone is dead. Anyone who gets too famous or "above themselves" is quickly cut down or derided.

Scotland needs to admit to its hopes and dreams and see them as achievable goals. Scotland needs to believe that it can do anything. Scotland needs to stop cowering in England's shadow.

The one difference in the report I talked about in my last post is that all the small countries that are better than Scotland are independent. They rule their own affairs within Europe. They have not crumbled and failed without a larger country to cling to like a limpet. They have flourished.

I don't believe that Scotland needs to adopt an American attitude. It would be insincere. I do however think that Scotland needs to adopt a Scandinavian one. They work hard and look after each member of their community. They are a practical people who get things done. They have similar population to Scotland and some even are very similar topographically (I once took a flight from Aberdeen to Stavanger and it looked like we'd just flown in a circle and landed back in Aberdeen!).

I think one of Scotland's problems is the fact that the central belt can't seem to remember that it is attached to the rest of Scotland. The Labour run country for the last 50 years has been forever trying to strain forward to Westminster. Hopefully Alex Salmond, representing a North East constituency, will change some of that. Scotland has always looked to England and Westminster for answers instead of seeing our potential within the country.

If Scotland is at the bottom of the league for small countries in western Europe then what is the big risk in going independent? We can only get better.

Of course I am saying this from 3,000 miles away and I can just hear my sister thinking "what is she wittering on about? she doesn't pay taxes here or live here day to day!". True. But I think I have a different perspective because I am looking at my homeland from outside. I have a perspective that puts Scotland into context in the world. Sometimes when you live in a place you can't see the woods for the trees. So I hope that my witterings may give some Scots some pause for thought.

I am not in Scotland right now so I do not know the answer to this (although I've noticed a buzz in the blogosphere about it) but I hope Scotland is nervously excited for the future. I feel the SNP slender win over Labour is a tentative step towards trying something new, maybe trying a little confidence in ourselves.


A Paperback Writer said...

"Anyone who gets too famous or "above themselves" is quickly cut down or derided."

Oh my gosh, yes! I noticed this immediately with writers. Everyone cuts down Rowling (granted, she's not a Scot, but she lives there), McCall Smith, and Rankin because they are successful, yet their books still sell like crazy in the same country that makes fun of them. Someone's reading the stuff, but no one will admit they like the work of a successful person.
(Sorry, Kirsty, I know you don't like Rankin.)
I wonder how it is that my beloved Edwin Morgan escaped this.... maybe it's because he's a poet, and no one gets rich being a poet.

Gwen said...

Kirsty I agree wholeheartedly with all your sentiments (and thanks for highlighting my previous comment)

When I was growing up it was considered "not the done thing" to talk about your achievements and self deprecation is at the root of a lot of humour (or at least the sort of humour I like anyway). We are almost embarrased when we see someone (usually from abroad) waxing lyrical about their achievements. I'm no psychologist but I tend to believe in the maxim of "If you believe it you can achieve it". Of course this also works in the negative context - if you do not believe in yourself you will not achieve. Scotland certainly needs to come together and face the future with confidence.

Mo said...

We got all our self confidence knocked out of us at school. I wanted to be an interpreter and was told I would never be good enough because I was competing with people who were naturally bi-lingual. Rubbish! After 5 years in France I was bi-lingual (note: WAS!)

Yes we need to encourage our kids though not to the extend of telling them they're brilliant when they're rubbish. You see it on the X Factor. Kids who can't sing look astounded when the judges tell them they can't sing. No one ever told them before. But Scotland does need to get its self confidence back.

On holiday I was amazed at the quiet self-confidence of the Menorcans. The Balearics are an autonomous region of Spain. Catalan is the official language of Menorca (along with Spanish) and you'll see signs everywhere in Catalan. The Menorcans haven't been afraid to do things differently from the rest of Spain and the result is that you have large sections of the island completely unspoilt by tourism. Even tourist resorts are tastefully done. You get the impression the Menorcans are very proud of who they are and where their island is going. And they've done this without independence.

Scotland shouldn't have to wait for full independence to do things her own way.

Adrastos said...

This post could explain your affinity for NOLA. That's the pervasive attitude here as well; especially among the political class.

Besom Abroad said...

Wow! This was a great post - and it echoes my sentiments exactly! It's true that the Scottish hold themselves back with their so-called humble attitude. We would get ahead so much more quickly if we were only taught to take pride in ourselves and our achievements from an early age.

On the other hand, though, I do think that the Americans go overboard with that. When I first got here, I was so intimidated by the Americans I met, as they seemed so confident and wasted no time in telling you all about how talented and successful they were. I soon realized that the vast majority of them were full of shite. You can see a prime example of this if you go to any café in Austin, where I'm living. Some numpty or other - who will tell you they're an "artist" (aye right)- will have painted some hideous creation and will have put it up on the café wall for sale for an outrageous sum! It's quite amazing to me how these "artists" can't see that what they've painted is total shite. Just because you have the ability to pick up a paintbrush and daub some paint on a canvas does not make you a creative, talented person. But in the US it seemingly does because here everyone has an overabundance of self-confidence and a severe lack of critical awareness. In Scotland, sadly, it's the other way round.

Ooh, that was bitchy but, ach, fuck it - it's what I think.