It is fascinating to see, and more importantly, to feel the differences between the two countries that I love – the United States and the United Kingdom (UK). I now live in Sarasota, FL but frequently travel back to England to see the Beyond Philosophy team and deliver key note speeches. George Bernard Shaw was 100% correct when he said “We are two nations separated by a common language.” But recently I think I have witnessed more that separates us.
I have just returned to the US after being in the UK for 6 weeks and I have noticed a key difference. Now, let me say straight away that I am a very proud Englishman. I love the country of my birth but I have to say in the UK we always seem to look at the glass as if it is half empty, in the USA they look at the glass as if it’s half full.
This attitude drives many behaviors which I see every day. Even in good times, we English tend to see the problems not the opportunities. This is why Australians call us ‘whinging Poms’ (A POM’s is Australian slang for British). Too many people in the UK like nothing more than a good moan at the weather, the government and anything else! This attitude seems to have magnified 20 fold in this economic downturn!
In the US, I believe, the attitude of ‘the glass is half full’ has played a significant part in pulling the US out of the downturn. The US economy is turning around. Americans are not hindered by a fear of failure and do not resent success of those who have ‘made it’ as they seem to do in the UK. This optimism drives their behaviour.
The second area I admire in the US is the speed they work at when there is an opportunity, which then plays out in the Customer Experience. Here is a prime example: ‘Cell (mobile) phone parking lots’ at airports. We all know that when we are picking up friends and family from an airport we say “When you come through just give me a ring and we’ll drive around and pick you up”. In the UK, people park anywhere to avoid the extortionate airport parking costs– many illegally. In the US they saw this was a growing trend and acted quickly. My local airport in Tampa is a classic example – they have ‘Cell phone parking lots’. You park up, there are information boards showing when the flights will be arriving/have arrived, restrooms and even wifi – all of which are obviously free! It will be years before this happens in the UK.
I think this positive, can do, opportunistic attitude is a key reason why America leads the world. The strive for the ‘American dream’ is infectious from the top to the bottom.
What do you see from the country you live in? Is your country’s glass half full or half empty and how opportunistic is that?
|Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX