It’s Time The Greeks Stopped Taking Their Own Bullsh*t.
The title may sound harsh. It’s not meant to insult the Greeks. I’m Greek too. It’s meant to act as tough love. Because if I didn’t love Greece, I wouldn’t be writing this article today.
But I can’t take the BS anymore. I have to call it out. Here are the 4 most common Bullsh*t types the Greeks need to stop immediately.
Bullsh*t #1: Hiding our incompetence behind the Ancient Greeks’ achievements.
I’m gonna start with the Ancient Greeks pride. I strongly believe that were the ancients Greeks not that great, that would have benefited the modern Greeks.
Because the modern Greeks hide their incompetence behind the fact that 2,500 years ago the ancient Greeks were great:
“When we were building the Parthenon, they (non-Greeks) were living on trees.”
“They (non-Greeks) are jealous of our history.”
Since the ancient Greeks were actually great, today’s incompetence doesn’t sound that bad because overall the Greeks as a nation have something to show. They have offered something to the world.
So the Greeks keep using the ancient Greeks’ achievements to avoid admitting that, yes, modern Greeks suck.
There I said it.
I’m deeply ashamed to admit it.
No, I’m not saying that we carry a sucky genetic trait or something. Contrary, we’re perfectly capable to be high achievers. And that’s why we have so many Greeks excelling…abroad. Yet, inside the Greek borders we’re not. And that’s the problem.
We’ll use any possible excuse not to admit this truth. Of course the ancient Greeks come first in our line of excuses. The Greek language and it’s richness comes second. Other sources of pride include Olympic winners, and the Greeks who succeed abroad.
We keep looking for evidence that defies the reality we face every day — the sucky roads, fatal car accidents, the graffiti in our historic buildings.
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be proud of our ancestors, of the Olympic winners, or of the successful Greeks all over the world. Just like I’m not saying that we are inherently incompetent, or that we have low IQ levels or something like that (contrary, we don’t and that’s why we should expect more from ourselves).
What I am saying though is that we should stop taking our own BS and start facing reality. What do we offer to the world today? What are our achievements? Where is our innovation?
Do we have any pharmaceutical companies that may create a new vaccine or a very important drug? Not really. Any tech products that might change the way people connect (hello Facebook, Twitter, even Medium)? Not really. Any great cars or energy innovation? Hum, no.
Now if you look into it you’ll find a thing or two that we the Greeks have to offer the world (some food products, tourism, etc). But the problem is that these are exceptions. The exceptions don’t change the fact that we’re ranking low on most metrics measuring our competitiveness while being high on corruption.
So those few things we are doing well are not enough to compensate for the fact that as a whole we rank low. We know that fact. This is not news. We recognize it. We’ve heard it before. Yet we fail to take responsibility for it. And that’s the problem.
The ancient Greeks were awesome, but the modern Greeks are not. Can we look at this fact squarely for a second? Can we own that fact, so maybe we can do something about it?
Because the more we keep downplaying our incompetence, the more we stay stuck at the bottom.
Bullsh*t #2: Bragging about our climate, even though this is not something we had to earn.
The Greeks often pride themselves of living in a country with plenty of sunshine and beautiful beaches.
And who can blame them? Greece is truly beautiful. Crystal clear waters, picturesque marinas, what’s not to love or be proud of?
Just check this out:
I’m by no means against that love. Heck, I consistently advertise Greece and urge people to go visit.
But there’s an important distinction we need to understand. The climate is independent of our competence. So the sun will keep shining in Greece, regardless of whether our economy is strong or weak, whether there’s corruption or not, or whether we innovate as a nation or just consume what other countries produce.
So please Greeks, stop bragging about something that is a pure product of luck and that you didn’t have to earn. Our amazing climate has nothing to do with how capable and competent we actually are as a nation.
Instead start bragging about what you achieve. You will have earned it then.
Bullsh*t #3: Not owning the fact we’re in debt.
Let’s face it. We, the Greeks, are in debt.
But you knew that didn’t you?
Of course you do.
The problem is that the Greeks don’t own that fact.
They blame outside sources for the situation.
It’s always someone else’s fault, never theirs.
If they’re politicians, they’ll blame it on other European countries.
If they’re not politicians, they’ll blame it on mostly other European countries, and on the politicians too.
So pretty much no-one self-reflects. And no-one takes responsibility for the debt.
This is not a weird behavior. It’s actually a very common by-product of group dynamics.
Think about it.
Say you have to complete task A. If you don’t do it, it’s your fault.
Now say you along with your friend have to complete task A. If you don’t do it, whose fault is it?
Multiply that by 11 million people and you get the chaos.
Yet, good teams take responsibility for their actions. Even when a team-member thinks that it was the other team-member’s fault, good teams are united. They take responsibility and resolve to do better. They stand up to the circumstances.
We haven’t done that yet.
Because we’re still throwing bulls*t about how it’s someone else’s fault that we’re in debt.
Bullsh*t #4: We expect our situation to get resolved without making changes.
I know many Greeks will go nuts at what I just said. But if you’re a Greek reading this, hold for a second before you go nuts. Let’s get back to the team example I offered in my previous point.
You’re a team and you screwed up. A good team will own that fact and resolve to change the situation. They will sit down and think what’s wrong and make the changes necessary to reverse the situation and make sure that what just happened, won’t happen again.
A bad team will make no effort to change. After all when everyone believes it’s someone else’s fault, then why would they make any effort to change? Other people must change, not them!
Should other parties dare suggest changes to the bad team, the bad team will get outraged and insist they’re fine and that maybe those other parties should change, not them!
Nobody takes responsibility.
And that’s why you’ll still find cars parked on sidewalks; parking laws are not obeyed. That’s why smokers still smoke in non-smoking environments and even get offended when you tell them to stop. That’s why tax evaders still evade taxes — they rationalize that they don’t steal “a lot,” it’s the big fish that has to stop stealing from the state. They’re only small fish, so who cares?
And that’s why today, 5 years after the crisis, people still ask for favors from the politicians — even though everyone knows it’s such behaviors that led us to the economic crisis in the first place.
I’m not saying this to suggest that everyone carries equal responsibility for the debt.
I’m saying this though to note, that if we keep not owning the fact that we’re in debt and we have to change, if we keep not holding ourselves to high standards, if we keep wanting to just “get by,” instead of aiming to excel as a nation, to be innovative, to have more to show, not just the sun and the sea and the ancient Greek ruins but things and products that we modern Greeks create, then our situation will never be improved.
If we were a good team, if we stopped taking our own bullsh*t, we would have already started to change. The Europeans and the IMF wouldn’t have to suggest new measures, because we would already be on top of the situation.
But since we don’t do that, then other people have to tell us what to do. We don’t like it, nobody likes being told they have to change-esp, when they believe they don’t need to. And yes, maybe the IMF’s and the Europeans’ ideas are not that good, maybe their plan is even nonsensical.
But if we, the Greeks, were behaving as a A-level rather than a B-level team, they wouldn’t even be making suggestions, because we would already be implementing the structural reforms that we the Greeks think of as necessary to become a great nation. We would have already thought about and be accepting of the changes that we would impose on ourselves.
No other nation would need to tell us what to do, because we would have already come up with the answers. We would have already initiated a plan to solve our own problems so that we never again find ourselves in such a troubled economic situation and instead become a thriving country that other countries look up to.
Call me an idealist if you must. But if you’re parking illegally, tolerating graffiti, trash at the beach or illegal smoking at restaurants, if you know of people who’re still evading taxes, then you know you too have room to change. These are changes you can implement right now, on a personal level, regardless of what the state or the politicians do.
And then you can take it one step further. If you’re winging it at your job, doing the bare minimum, change your attitude and try excelling at it. Try infusing passion at everything you do, doing it to the best of your ability. That’s the path to greatness.
Greece, you can be a troubled country on its way to “get by,” or you can be a troubled country on its way to be great. What do you want to be?
You can keep up with the excuses and BS if “getting by” is your goal (yet, even that is doubtful). But if you do keep up with the BS, you can definitely not become the latter.