By Peter Economides* – It took me a while to answer this question. Not because it was a difficult question to which I did not have an answer. But simply because it had been asked.
The person asking was a known journalist from Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the most widely read, and most highly respected, German newspapers.
Isn’t Europe a Greek name?
The woman abducted by Zeus in the form of a white bull?
Much, much bigger than I thought.Of course Greeks are Europeans.Perhaps not, however, in a world dominated by productivity, efficiency, balanced books and the Protestant ethic. But is this all that Europe is about?
Greeks are under pressure.
To become “good Europeans.” And what it means to be a good European is dominated by the Northern European definition. This definition may move sometime to the more encompassing idea with which the European Union was initially intended. But no matter what, it is up to Greeks to carve out a meaningful role within Europe and the world. And Greeks can only do this by being in touch with their essential DNA. If Greeks lose this DNA, then Greeks lose themselves. Full stop.
Let me make one thing clear. I am not talking about physiological DNA. This page is not the place to attempt to trace back Greek lineage to the ancients.
I am talking about the essential concept of Greece. The spirit with which Greeks live their lives. The stuff that defines the “Greekness” of Greece. About what makes this nation tick. What makes us get up in the morning.
I think the world understands what this is. It’s called life. And the amazing love that Greeks have for life. It was present in ancient Greece. The love of humanity that gave rise to democracy. The love of beauty that gave rise to sculpture. The love of peace that gave rise to the Olympic Truce. The love of knowledge which gave rise to science. The love of discovery that gave rise to philosophy. The love of wisdom that shines from the Acropolis in Athens.
Life. This is Greek knowhow. And when we harness its creative power we will reverse our image as a nation with a zest for life and an aversion to productivity. We need to utilize our “life knowhow” and transform it into creative enterprise that will be valued by the world. This is how we can reignite our economy. By doing things that Greeks can excel at. By creating sustainable competitive advantage based on the uniquely Greek knowledge – and love – of life.
*Peter Economides is a brand strategist with a global perspective. He has lived on four continents doing work that has impacted brands and consumers almost everywhere. He has learned from the leaders of some of the world’s best brands. He is the owner and founder of Felix BNI.