After being out of Mexico for almost eight years, I returned to my native Guadalajara in November 2010, driven by the desire for closer ties between my daughter and her cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts.
My friends in San Diego asked over and over why I was leaving San Diego for Mexico. “It is dangerous,” they said.
Such questions resonated in my head, particularly during my drive throughout the more than 1,000 miles that separate San Diego from Los Cabos at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. But calmness came to my family after we took a ferry across the Sea of Cortes to Mazatlan, and drove on to Guadalajara.
Upon my return, my partner and I established the headquarters of GTC Consulting in Guadalajara to serve our management consulting clients in Mexico and Latin America. Since the first day I have met people capable of competing with the best of the world whether in the technology or in the business arenas.
These “Model Mexicans” are typically young entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and business men and women who are taking a step forward by driving a social change that I am sure will make Mexico a more organized, competitive and richer country. They are planting the seeds of a culture of high-performance and social and environmental responsibility in areas such as IT outsourcing, BPO and software development that is beginning to take root and, from my perspective, become permanent.
I have to be honest. We have also met the “old school” Mexicans, who I like to call “self-restricted Mexicans” whose mindset remains from the day when Mexico was a Spanish colony. The definition that Fernando Benitez gave in his book The First Mexicans: The Creole Life in the 16th Century still applies, I believe, to these “self-restricted Mexicans.” It includes, he said, “…an evident lack of ability to any kind of transcendental action. Thus, resulting in constant failure whether they started a poem, a novel, or organizing a rebellion to defend their wealth from the Spanish.”
Colonial Mexico did not belong to the Creoles, even if they were descendents of the Conquistadores who conquered the land for the Spanish crown. Nor did it belong to the Indians or the Mestizos. The Mexican of the Spanish colony was a Mexican without Mexico, whose lives were dependent on of the Spanish born in Spain. No Mexican was allowed any political, clerical, commercial, or business power.
That attitude is still alive in many Mexicans today, in the way they see and understand life, their lack of empowerment and their feeling of being worth less than others (especially foreigners). The day Mexico becomes a real mother to the Mexicans instead of a stepmother is when we will see real progress in creating more satisfied lives for our countrymen. That is the day I am beginning to see dawn in the young Mexican entrepreneurial class I work with ever day.
Mexico needs more of its people to leave the ancient attitudes of slavery to become owners of their life, their goods, and their destiny. Mexico is desperately asking for average Mexicans to be owners of the flower, the land, the liberty, the knowledge, the government, the joy of life.
There is one more step my fellow citizens need to take, and that is to set common goals for their society and work towards them through civic organizations. Consider management guru Peter Drucker, who according to one scholar “championed a robust civil society of voluntary nonprofit organizations as an essential foundation on which business could thrive and people could prosper, because this sector plays a vital role in promoting health, education, and well-being.”
Drucker mistrusted central power and felt bureaucracies imposed rigidity and stifled innovation. He placed more faith in voluntary action by employees and concerned citizens working together in non-profit organizations to achieve social good.
Yes, there still work ahead, but there is no doubt in my mind that “Model Mexicans” are leading Guadalajara, and Mexico on the right direction, creating a force that will drive permanent and positive change. A good example of these changes is SUMA.te, a civic organization that works to make the Guadalajara region more attractive to investors and to encourage the development of breakthrough software. Mexico is transforming itself, primarily through globalization and its young people. These “Model Mexicans” aim high, they know they are capable, and more importantly they know that by working for a common good, they will find a sustainable way for their good and wealth.
The recent civil movements in Middle East and North Africa have brought down dictators and their regimes; Mexico through an active participation of key civilians can definitely increase security, develop new technology, and bring prosperity. Ultimately, we are Mexicans.
Juan Carlos Rodriguez is co-founder of GT Consulting, a management consulting firm specializing in process and project management, strategic planning, continuous operations improvement and organizational and financial development.
This commentary appeared originally at Global Delivery Report.