There are few things in life which make my stomach churn and I think I have a reasonably robust constitution.

But there are some things which really get me going.

If you are a regular reader you might have picked up that I have strong feelings about how our city is portrayed and the, at times, negative flow on to the business community.

And, in a positive way, I am passionate about a number of things – for example, I get excited about strategic mentoring and the positive impact that it can have in improving your business.


But last week I encountered an example of "tall poppy syndrome" which has me fired up.

It involved a comment made about another individual but I am sure people who put their head above the parapet have also felt the draft of the blade as others try to bring them back to earth.

Many theorists have likened the behaviour to traits deeply rooted in the New Zealand psyche.

Visitors to this country remark about us "not being like Australia" in an effort to say that we don't have an environment in which success can thrive – although recent evidence (particularly on the sporting field) shows that we are getting some things right.

My message to Whanganui is that we need to encourage those among us who are excelling to go on to bigger and brighter things – and not return to the pack.

And there should be no pay-off or satisfaction from bagging others who are doing really well.

Invariably, those that make these types of negative comments ignore all the hard work, sweat and tears that went into achieving success – not to mention the risks taken.

To wield the sword against our "tall poppies" is to indulge in ignorance, plain and simple. And to think that it gains some kind of competitive advantage to do so is flawed thinking.

It is particularly unhelpful when we live in a community which needs every positive break it can get to weather the challenging economic times we find ourselves in.

Much has been said recently about low business confidence, and I tend to agree with the sentiment, but in this atmosphere we should be doing more to encourage rather than discourage those making progress.

And the thing is, without these "tall poppies" we wouldn't have the advanced society we have today and many of the things we now take for granted would either not exist or not have been bettered.

There are "tall poppies" here and we need to give them all the encouragement they need to grow and bring value back to our community.

Otherwise we will be left with weeds and thistles — the things which should be cut down and removed so that the rest of New Zealand can admire and want to visit (or live and prosper in) our garden of success.

*Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring — contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872