As a self-confessed football tragic, I was keen to see if the fairy tale performance of the Iceland football team would continue when they took on the French yesterday but alas, this was not to be, and their amazing and inspiring run at Euro 2016, has come to a gallant end.
There has already been much said and written about Iceland’s performance at Euro 2016, many of these comments being at the expense of my hapless England team, but, away from the football, what has resonated with me is the similarity in national attitudes between Iceland and New Zealand.
It seems that the Icelandic folk, not only share the similarities of living in a stunningly beautiful island festooned with volcanoes (theirs can get a little more grumpy than ours) but, perhaps borne out of the same sense of global isolation; an intrinsic need to be self-sufficient and independent or, a consequent need to just get on with whatever lot you have been dealt, irrespective of hardship or adversity, we also share a positive can do, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, or as they would say ‘thetta reddast’.
On the radio yesterday morning, I caught a brief interview with someone suggesting that a possible reason for the team’s success was simply a benefit of a small population. People were much more likely to know of someone who is successful, therefore they were likely to accept success as being something that was attainable and not something to be shunned or feared.
This sentiment is supported in a speech in June 2015 by Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson who said: “The tireless ambition of the Icelandic people and our desire always to do better, have proved to be great assets. It is important that we succeed in keeping this ambition alive, while at the same time letting our achievements remind us that we have reason to be grateful for what past generations have done and draw encouragement from their example to press on to even greater heights for the benefit of the generations that will come after us.”
So, perhaps this is something else we have in common. Whilst historically we have been reticent about acknowledging or celebrating achievements, it is something that, over recent years, we have got a lot better at. Perhaps we too, can see the benefits that can accrue both nationally and within our local community by acknowledging ambition, passion and commitment.
Over the past seven years, the New Zealander of the Year Awards has not only seen a massive increase in the willingness of New Zealanders to share their stories about those Kiwis who have inspired and achieved, but we have also seen how being acknowledged within this programme has raised awareness not only for the individuals that are being recognised, but also for the cause or industry that they represent.
We should never be afraid to celebrate the good things that occur in our society or the achievements made in industry. To do so does not compromise our humility or detract from who we are, but what it does, is encourages us not to just dream but to achieve those dreams.
With nominations for the 2017 New Zealander of the Year Awards now open, we look forward to sharing more stories about the outstanding New Zealanders whose dreams are now making a difference.
It is also your opportunity to tell us about the New Zealanders who have made a difference to you.
For more information on the New Zealander of the Year Awards or to make your nomination go to www.nzawards.org.nz/nominate