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The British resolve: Leading us to greater things


What can UK businesses learn about being British? Gemma Middleton argues that it's time to turn the negatives into positives.
The stiff upper lip… good losers… proper and correct; all of these phrases surround the idea of the traditional British culture and heritage. In recent decades some would argue that our prowess over the world has dwindled substantially, particularly when you consider areas such as popular culture, sports and in some instances, business. However I believe a second wave of greatness is just beginning, which can largely be attributed to our perceived ‘failures’.
The concept of losing, although it may be physically or mentally painful and embarrassing, typically it is not a completely negative experience; many a time we have probably all heard people say losing is character building.
Losing, failing, stalling, missing the target, however it is described, can actually help achieve future goals. Using sports as an example, losing can actually motivate to not only win the next game but to go even further and win the league. Often poor facilities are blamed for failures and performing badly, which presents a solid argument for investing in improvements. A poignant example of this is tennis; a few years ago the country’s tennis facilities were slated and blamed for the lack of top talent representing the UK, this was addressed and now we have the bicep-wielding Andy Murray; one of the world's top ranking players.
We can all clearly see how turning losing into a positive relates to the sporting world and yet the same concepts can actually be applied to the world of business. Things have been tough, fact, and unfortunately many businesses have failed to win contracts and customers and worst of all lost the battle of actually staying afloat. In the pre-recession years, when confidence was incredibly high and the banks were being what can only be described as reckless, meant that typically businesses were not run as competitively as they could have been; there was a lot of dross around. But oh how things can change, and we have had to act; changing the negative into a positive.
Like what has happened with many sports, our business facilities i.e., the people, are starting to get some much needed investment. We have all heard about the growing skills gap, the Leitch Review helped with that, and the news is regularly reporting that unemployment in the 16 to 24 age group is rising; at the last count official figures showed 935,000 were out of work.
So here comes the investment bit; the government plans to expand the youth jobs scheme by pledging a further 85,000 ‘opportunities’ for young people to get into the workplace. Further support has also been pledged by large organisations such as the Royal Mail and Centrica to provide even more opportunities through apprenticeships and training.
As always what should be seen as a positive move for the future by all politicians has turned into ammunition for another playground fight in the commons; their tit-for-tat arguing is as relentless as the rain!
Admittedly I am a little sceptical on the numbers released by the government, however I feel that any activity that is positive is a must; we all need some good news! Thankfully there seems to be more good news that has happened over the summer; house prices are on the up, with July experiencing the largest increase for 5 years, the banks have also increased the number of mortgages they are approving, another record-breaking year for GCSE pass rates and more importantly we won the Ashes back from the Australians.
If we continue to make positive steps, like investing in training and jobs, pulling together like our country’s sporting teams do (well like the cricket team did anyway) and by creating a positive culture and philosophy for our businesses we will be able to show how the UK is still a force to be reckoned with!

Gemma Middleton is a regular columnist for and the marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy. Read her other features: Bigger isn't always better, Generation Y hits the wall, Social media for learning? and Can discrimination ever be positive?

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