A smile can change a nation

I am proud to be an Omani today, in fact very proud. 

First, as reported by international news sources a couple of weeks ago, the sultanate is ranked second happiest and healthiest nation in the world. Outshined only by Canada and with the US lagging far behind at 37th... . How about that for uplifting news!

I have no idea how scientific the ranking process was but in a way or another, it can only mean that we are doing ok; at least that’s how those in the outside see it. Certainly that is a massive positive publicity on the world stage.

Second, our worldwide image as people continues to be squeaky clean. Everywhere I have been, everyone spoke well of us. On TV and the Internet too, people say lovely things about us.

So we are considered among the happiest healthiest people and we are one of a handful of countries with no known enemies. Any idea how that was achieved?

The keyword is teamwork. Teamwork between government and citizens.

Our perpetual smiling and pleasing demeanour as a people must have played a role in skewing the results in our favour. For half a century, the government too had been in a smiling mode by continually refusing to be dragged into other nations’ disagreements and conflicts.

There is one menace against which that same team spirit must be summoned urgently: Unemployment. These are difficult times for most oil-producing nations and given that there is no shortage of finger-pointing already, we must make a conscious decision to be part of the solution.

How? An incident that took place a few days ago gave me an insight on how we can all contribute in our own small ways to combating unemployment and to the betterment of our country in general.

The incident took place at SQU hospital where I took my mother for her eye check-up. She was attended to by an Omani female trainee supervised by her Omani mentor. I am proud and delighted to report that the specialist and his apprentice exhibited high degree of professionalism and enthusiasm and served in the friendliest fashion.

I sensed some slowness from the part of the trainee but that didn’t bother me a bit because I could clearly see a young Omani lady doing her best to assist a fellow citizen. On any given day, I will choose dedication over speed. Speed will eventually come. She did it with utmost commitment, sincerity and with a sense of service. For me that was more than enough. That’s all I could demand of her. Devotion and positive attitude is all I would demand of my own daughter or son; nothing more.

I was so impressed that I was extra careful not to say anything or behave in any way that could interfere with or put a dent on her motivation and spirit.

I do believe that by just motivating - through encouraging words and demeanour - our new entrants in their workplaces either as their customers, boss or in any other capacity, we would be doing our nation a great service in the long run. Understanding, patience and whenever possible a show of appreciation for what they are doing could do wonders.

As bosses, instead of pressurising them, we must give them the chance to learn, master and eventually love what they are doing.

It is easy to find ‘faster’ or ‘better; replacements but patriotism demands that we leave no one behind. Rule of thumb is that if someone does his or her best we must fully support them in words and deeds.

In jobs that Omanis typically considered to be demeaning like cashiers, cleaners, shish kebab vendors, etc., all the more reason to give them support, dignified treatment, and motivating gestures. Anyone who does any work to earn an honest living must feel that the nation is proud of him or her.

Our enduring message ought to be that we do appreciate what you are doing and in a larger scheme of things what you do does matter.

Am I saying that Omanis mistreat others or are generally not inspiring? Of course not. But the matter is too important to be left to chance. It takes a lot more people to inspire and just a few to crush people’s enthusiasm, hence the reminding.

There are plenty of indications that the government is using all of its might to solve the issue of unemployment once and for all. For me, the apparent sense of urgency from the authorities to provide job opportunities is reassuring.

However, the government is not a piece of machinery with gear box and a steering wheel. It is made of thousands of people who must all operate in a synchronised manner to push the country forward. Amongst them are many who are simply uncooperative and unproductive. As such, our duty is to support the countless others who are patriotic, dedicated and committed to making this country better. The government too can use and will appreciate moral support.

I have no doubt that by collectively motivating one Omani worker at a time and supporting the government in various forms, we are actually inspiring the whole nation to move ahead. If you take no part in enhancing and spreading the overall morale, you might be unwittingly part of the problem. So let’s keep smiling!

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