I found the previous video one day - randomly - on Facebook.
As anything that is about Colombia, i went on to see what it was all about. Nice video, as usual, nice to hear foreigners praising your land, your culture.
Yet, there was a comment by one of the foreigners that absolutely called my attention: "In comparison with Europe, Colombia is much less stressful, you are not expected to give your 120% (...)"
I let it sink, even if it stayed in my head for couple of days. Until today, 20.07 ... Colombia`s remarkable Independence Day, where all the people swim in the pride of being colombian (including myself) .. today is a good day however to talk about this 120% ...
Before I go on, I want to clarify that having lived in Europe I (kind of) know what this person tries to express and by no means this post intends to challenge him or his perception. Perception is reality. Period. What I really would like to decode is what it means "not giving the 120%". As colombian, is this actually something to praise? If yes, from which angle?
What does it mean not to give the 120%?
The first thing that came to my mind was "Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral" - in german ("Anecdote to the Decline of the Work Ethic" - english translation). It is a famous short story by Heinrich Böll that I actually learned at school and I never, ever will forget (I graduated from a german school, in my home city, Barranquilla). The story is about an encounter between an enterprising tourist and a small fisherman, in which the tourist suggests how the fisherman can improve his life. It was written for a May Day programme on the Norddeutscher Rundfunk in 1963, and is considered one of the best stories written by Heinrich Böll. And hell it is.
Thanks to my job at Endeavor for the past 4 years there is a term that has become part of my lexicon: THINK BIG. When I reflect on the 120% thing and the short story of Böll, I can´t help recalling of the term.
I think as Colombians we are "lazy" to think big, many times. To think big does not mean "stopping spending time sitting at the beachside dozing" as the fisherman in the previous story does. The two things are not mutually exclusive. This "trade-off" scenario is WAY OVERRATED, please! One thing is valuing and living the PRESENT and another one is excusing ourselves for not giving the extra mile in a nation where so many things need to be done: this is an emerging economy folks! lots of stuff needs to be still created and forward thinking, big thinking is fundamental to that.
I am proud to be colombian NOT BECAUSE OF THE SUPERFICIAL elements that you read in newspapers or over social networks: "WE ARE ONE OF THE HAPPIEST NATIONS IN THE WORLD". What does that mean? What`s happiness actually? What`s the underlying structure from which we self-portrait ourseves as happy?
I am proud to be colombian because I feel like the butterfly that struggles to squeeze its body through the tiny hole of the cocoon (read the story) and this excersice made me strong. Anf I feel lucky to be citizen in this environment, because it makes me better and enables me to give my 120% while changing a reality.
I am proud to be colombian because there is a new generation of citizens raising, a new generation that is waking up and that repulses curruption, crime, hate, envy, injustice and is creating concrete initiatives to create a fair society for all. We are a generation that EMBRACES VULNERABILITY, BUT ALSO KNOWS THAT ITS VULNERABILITY IS THE SOURCE OF LOVE, OF IMPROVEMENT, OF CREATIVITY, OF BELONGING, as Brene Brown says.
I am proud to be colombian, because many of our efforts are starting to show results, because clear numbers make us be part of the CIVETS, given our reasonably sophisticated financial systems, controlled inflation, and a soaring young population.
I am proud to be colombian because back in the 1800s there was a group of patriots corageous enough to raise their voices and proclaim this nation as independent. They dared to CHANGE.
I am proud to be colombian because we are WHOLE-HEARTED, and let ourselves be seen.
I am proud to be colombian because we KNOW how to freaking give our 120%, and if not all of us do that, there is hell a big part of us that is doing it. Without cliches, withour paradigms, without lame excuses.
Happy independence day.