Be world-class. You never know who is watching

world-class open water swim race
Flowers Sea Swim Cayman – one of the world’s top Open Water races

While in Cayman this week, I spent time at an event looking to build awareness and reputation for a burgeoning global industry. As I entered the event, one of the organisers recognised me and came over to chat. I asked them what their goals were from the event and they outlined some impressive ideas around building that industry in Cayman to benefit Caymanian entrepreneurs and to open the eyes of young people and their parents as to new educational and career opportunities.

They did not know that, by chance, I am in the position to easily introduce them to some major global players in that space. At the start of the event then, as a Caymanian, I was excited at the possibilities that could flow from such an introduction.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm quickly dropped, which leads me to talk about this and to reflect on the title of this post.

Passion and an idea are not enough

The event, while full of passion and energy, was one of the most profoundly disorganised I have ever been exposed to. Yes, the organisers have brought something new and the participants were really happy to have their thirst slaked for a chance to be part of it.

However, it was clear to me that they had chosen not to make the effort to make it world-class in any way.

Perhaps they chose to not make the effort to organise it well, or perhaps they didn’t believe that they could. I sense a little of both.

Cayman IS and can always be World-Class

There are so many understandable reasons why those from a small country like Cayman may choose to believe that being world-class is beyond them. Yes, it is a small country, but Cayman is rich in brilliant minds, passion, dedication, respect, entrepreneurial drive and more. All the qualities needed to be world-class!

The photo above is of the Flowers Sea Swim. I have had the great good fortune both to have been closely involved with Cayman Swimming over many years and also to have got to know Frankie Flowers (the founder of this event) well.

The Flowers Sea Swim is absolutely one of the top open water swimming races annually on the global calendar, attracting some of the very top athletes in the world.

How has this been achieved? Frankie and the team he built settle for nothing less than the very best, tapping into all those values and behaviours Cayman and Caymanians both have in abundance and hold dear.

Cayman is and can be world-class and can have the confidence to do so.

One more short story. In late 2004 I flew to Scotland to give a keynote speech at their annual tourism conference. The conference theme?: “Scotland – Confident and World Class”.

Now, Scotland, country of my birth and my other home country, is a country 100 times larger than Cayman, but at around 5 million people, definitely a small country on the world stage, with particular feelings of being small next to England next door, over 10 times larger.

I had been booked to give that speech about eighteen months earlier, then only two months before the day, Cayman had been decimated by Hurricane Ivan to a level beyond words. Yet, within six weeks or so, we pulled together and re-opened to tourists.

I spoke of that story to the Scottish conference audience, highlighting that small can be beautiful and small can be mighty and that I believed (and still do) that no large country could have pulled together and achieved as monumental a recovery in such a short time.

My summary message?: “Scotland – confident and world-class. Well, you’re not, but you can be!”

Be world-class. You never know who is watching

I mentioned earlier that, unbeknownst to the organisers of the Cayman event, I am in a position, by chance of where my life has taken me, to introduce them to world-class players in that burgeoning industry and that such introductions may well be game-changing for both entrepreneurial and educational opportunities.

The thing is, when looking to make an introduction to such people and institutions, it is really important that those you introduce make the right first impression.

Unfortunately, my first impression was that they are nowhere near ready for such an introduction, so an opportunity they never even knew they might have is now lost to them due to their lack of focus on being world-class from the start.

Of course. I am someone whose life purpose is #MakingPotentialPossible. I know the organiser as I supported them on a key part of their own life journey many years ago, so I will contact them soon and talk to them. If they are open to it, I will give them direct feedback and then offer to support them to raise their belief in themselves to make next years event world-class.

Should they choose to be world-class, you never know what opportunities may be in front of them.


Also published on Medium.

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