Howzat! Australia is winning both on and off the pitch

In a post from last year, I suggested that sporting and national pride were often at odds with our sense of where to build a career.

A decade ago, when Australia ruled every sporting field that mattered and national pride was high, Australians nevertheless flocked overseas in search of better career prospects. When The Ashes seemed out of reach, and national pride was muted by economic uncertainty, doom and gloom, the rest of the world conversely came to us for greater job security and a standard of living.

A lot has changed in the few months since that first article, including the Australian cricket team’s reclaiming The Ashes after one of the most definitive and merciless test campaigns ever.

Both Australia and England fielded pretty much the same cricket teams as they did in the previous test series, when The Ashes was out of Australia’s reach. Yet there was a different attitude on show – a greater confidence and determination that the England team simply couldn’t match.

The Australian team believed in itself once more.

So what changed? How did Australia rediscover its mojo?

Reasons to be cheerful

Australia may have a high cost of living, but employees are also well paid, particularly the highly skilled. For example, Australia tops the salary rankings for MBA graduates. You can compare industry salary levels state by state with Robert Half’s most recent set of salary guides and see for yourself where the opportunities are for increasing your earning potential.

The last nine months of 2013 also saw some amazing growth in house prices. Last March, house buyers were getting a great deal, thanks to low interest rates and a flat market. However, by October, the homeowners were back in charge. Bricks and mortar became a good investment once more.

And as house prices go up, so does economic optimism and a sense of financial security for those already on the property ladder.

Also, whatever your personal opinion of the election outcome, the government was no longer in doubt. Business knew what to expect and could again make long-term plans. Plus, adjustments in mining, infrastructure and investment brought more economic stability to states like Western Australia and Queensland.

Stabilisation brings normalization, and that brings confidence. Australians have gone from acting like the world was ending just a few months ago to accepting a new normal and moving ahead with greater certainty.

Pessimism is out, and cautious optimism is in.

What goes up must come down

The Aussie dollar has also gone through a correction, falling against the other major currencies. This might seem like a bad thing for Amazon junkies, but it’s actually very good news for local business. A lower dollar means more people buy locally, holiday locally, invest locally and our exports are more appealing to foreign markets.

US online retailers still offer better value, however prices are now about 15 per cent more than a few months ago. Therefore, local business is more competitive, bringing further stability and potential growth.

There will always be alarmist news cycles and a focus on what is wrong instead of what is right in our economy. That’s just the way democracy runs. But deep down, there is a growing sense of confidence that Australia remains the place to be for a strong career, a stable income and a secure future.

Leadership rules

Despite all the talk of the state of the economy, there is one key lesson we can learn from the Aussie assault on England in the last Ashes series and more recently South Africa.

When Australian cricket coach Darren Lehmann took over from his predecessor, Australia was on a nine-Test winless streak. Although their defeat in the previous Ashes series was closer than the result, England retained the urn and Australia was devastated. Fast forward five months and coach Darren Lehmann leads Australia to claim the most emphatic 5-0 whitewash in Ashes history.

And what does that tell us? Simply put, never underestimate the strength of great, inspiring leadership and the self belief that it can instill within teams. In both sport and the workplace, all you need is a great coach/leader, the commitment of your team and the right attitude and anything is possible.

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