The relentless challenge of focus

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

I have enjoyed playing a role in the Turning Point series hosted by the NB Multicultural Council and a number of other partners.  While the online format may not be as impressive as a physical gathering it makes it so much easier.

I do think a challenge we always face is the pull to debate and ruminate over stuff that is not in our control and then only lightly touch on the stuff that is directly in our control.  A little place like New Brunswick has little control over global trends in education but we have considerable control over our own educational institutions.

We have little control over global technological innovation but we have considerable influence over how our own firms and industries embrace innovation.   As I have said before for most things we will be innovation takers but for some things we could be innovation makers and we need to have the wisdom to know the difference (tip o’ the hat to Niebuhr).

This is my challenge with most economists and indeed policy wonks – they are far more comfortable talking about the grand issues facing the world – income inequality, the money supply and inflation, etc. than what can Stanley or Neguac do to ensure they exist as going concern communities 30 years from now.

We need our best minds here to focus on the here and now.

Don’t ignore global trends.  Try and understand how they will impact us and how we can best steer into the skid.  But if we have little or no control over them – don’t brood over them and the possible impact here.

At the highest level New Brunswick faces challenges:

Demographics – a wave of people retiring or heading towards retirement in the near future.

Economy – dampened private sector investment and moderate apathy among  the populous (I haven’t seen any protests with placards demanding more economic development).  Imagine if people were actually protesting in Dalhousie for a new pig iron smelting plant.

How do we compete in a world where there is heightened competition for talent/migrants, investment and entrepreneurs?

And, yes, how do we steer into the technology skid (remote work, online education, automation, robotics, big data, etc.) – here not in some generic sense?


It’s easy to get distracted and there is nothing wrong with worrying about problems around the world but we need a little more thinking about what is going on right here in our back yard.


2 thoughts on “The relentless challenge of focus

  1. As always, your comments are very insightful. If only we could heed your advice build on the things that are going well in our backyard rather than wait for an illusive savior…

  2. YES!! Fantastic post David – we need to look inward! Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

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