If I had a euro every time I heard someone say it, I'd be rich. Both the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste were quoted as saying it this past week after Ireland landed its coveted seat on the UN Security Council. You've likely said it yourself. Here it is, that well-worn sentence: "Ireland has punched above its weight."
Lord. Really? Did it? Does Ireland seriously see itself as the skinny guy surrounded on the global beach by muscle-bound hunks? Ireland, I know you have had over 800 years to think about oppression, but as an American transplant who has proudly called this country home for the past five years, I'm here to encourage you to look in the mirror again. You've been working out. You're ripped. You've got tone. But sometimes you sound tone deaf.
As a corporate communications adviser who works with leaders all over the world, I'm here to remind you that words matter. What you say externally reflects your inside core beliefs.
Modesty or self-deprecation is one thing, but Ireland, you're not the featherweight boxer you seem to think you are. Negative self-talk, or in the case of securing the Security Council place, negative talk-to-others-talk indicates a limited belief in yourself and achieving your potential. So, stop the negative self-talk. Yes, you may still be wet and rainy, but Ireland, you're buff now. You're hot.
Don't believe me? Take a better look around the beach. Aishwarya Patil, who came to stay with my daughter and I in August to pursue an economics master's degree at UCD and chose to stay in Ireland during shutdown over returning to her native India, provides a broader perspective. She turned my attention to the UN Human Development Index.
The HDI, as it's called, computes a variety of measurements like life expectancy, per capita income and expected years of schooling to come up with their rankings. The most recent published index (2019) places Ireland in the number three position. Switzerland and Norway (the latter being the other regional Security Council seat winner), are the only countries further in front.
Canada, which lost its aggressive bid for a seat at the Security Council table, happens to be ranked 13th with the US and UK tied for 15th place. None of these countries' leaders speak like they're about to get sand kicked in their faces. Especially the leader of my birth country, but let's leave that discussion for another time.
For the record, the HDI also tracks the annual growth rate of each country it ranks. For the past eight years, Ireland's average has been 0.7 while Norway tracks at only 0.16 with the US marking just 0.12. Out of the top 62 countries, only 19 have a growth rate over 0.5.
Just like the scales in a global bathroom, the HDI numbers show Ireland is gaining weight and deserving of a place at any table. It's high time for Ireland's pace of positive self-expression to catch up to its positive rate of progressive development.
That or keep saying, "Ireland is punching above its weight." And pay me a euro every time.