"Many people still think you must have been mad to do what you did". Those were the words uttered to me by a former senior colleague that I held in considerably high esteem. In this article, I reveal the TRUE fear-fueled motives that some salary earners(and their employers) have for readily casting aspersion on a member who chooses to switch from paid to self-employment despite offers of career advancement.
Some of the assertions I make in this article WILL upset persons in paid employment, but that will not change the fact that they are ACCURATE representations of what happens in our society today! My purpose here is to help the interested reader understand that - notwithstanding startup pains - self-employment can be a prestigious and fulfilling alternative to the daily rat race in paid employment.
Even though I have focussed on salary earners, some of the "habits" I describe in this article are also favored by certain persons in business who have vested interests. Maybe I'll find the patience to elaborate on their "contributions" in a separate article sometime in the future. For the purpose of this article however, please indulge me by keeping in mind the fact that I am referring mainly to persons in paid employment.
As I explained in another article Should You Quit Your Job or Start Your Business Part-time?, while later reflecting on what some of my wonderful colleagues were supposed to have said about me, I could not help feeling sorry for them. It was sad confirmation that they were still oblivious to the fact, that I had only done earlier, with my youth still on my side, what they would have NO choice but to do in the future.
There is a saying that madness is continuing to do something the same way every time, even when you know the results will still be the same unsatisfactory ones you have always gotten! For seven years I did the 9 to 5 job routine that made feel unfulfilled, saying yes-sir, getting periodically caught in corporate politics, till I could take no more. I wanted out - and I eventually quit.
They said I was mad to do this. But I KNEW I was curing myself of madness by doing it. Today, I know I am very sane. For those who think I should have started my business on the side, instead of quitting outright, please read my article titled Should You Quit Your Job or Start Your Business Part-time? and understand that our purposes will differ, and therefore we cannot all successfully follow the same path.
Below, I explain how some people in paid employment think, which makes them regard a person who takes the kind of decision that I took as "mad" - and also prevents them taking ACTION to live their lives doing what they truly desire - UNTIL it becomes too late.
A. (Some) Salary Earners Keep Trying To Wish Away The Inevitable
By this I mean that they will one day have to seek income outside paid employment, and therefore need to LEARN HOW to do so - especially since no textbook or educational certification will prepare them better than EXPERIENCE. Failing to see their self-employed former colleague as one through whom they can learn how to survive in the real world, they deprive themselves of cost-saving and pain-relieving access to experience based wisdom, that could increase their chances of succeeding when the inevitable becomes their reality.
Know this: No matter how long you hang on to that job, you WILL one day have to let go. Some who NEVER thought they could lose their jobs because they knew they were "good", did so, due to the mistakes of others! And guess what? Their companies did not fold up after they left. In most cases, the companies did not even pause briefly as a result of their being let go. I think the following quote says it best:
The graveyards are full of indispensable men. -- Charles de Gaulle
Please get over your "It can't happen to me mentality", and begin to actively think of ways you can prepare for the inevitable. If it's not already too late, find a way to contact a former colleague who is in business(or any other competent person) to help you with your "re-education". If s/he happens to be like me i.e. one who knows the true worth of his/her hard earned knowledge, experience and billable time, then you can be sure you will NOT be getting that education FREE.
As a young manager in the company I quit from, I could not help noticing how defeated some retired ex-managers looked after some years. In many cases, some of these individuals had spent 2 or more decades of their lives working for the company they eventually left as Directors, Senior Managers etc. That was not bad in itself. The problem was they knew NO other life, and had acquired little or no other socially relevant and marketable skills to guarantee their successful re-entry into the real -world. Many would have gone through all those years telling everyone "Look, I'm busy", "I don't have time for that now!" etc. Then suddenly, they find they have more time than they can use - and very little energy(or ideas) - to utilise it in the way they need to!!
Pre-Retirement Programs Seldom Help!
Please note that most pre-retirement programs seldom achieve any significant/useful preparation that a prospective retiree can successfully apply in the real world. Apart from the fact that they are hurriedly put together and last only short periods, little real-world education can be imparted in the classroom environment that is typically used by organisers. The real learning and re-education will have to be done out "on the streets". And so, the inevitable becomes unavoidable!
Fela Anikulapo Kuti Sang About It!
From his single-track album titled "Perambulator", released back in the '80's, I excerpted the following lines delivered in his usual pidgin English(The song centered on the lack of direction or purpose in the way African societies were run/organised) :
For the benefit of the reader who is not (yet) initiated into reading "our" pidgin English, I have translated excerpts as follows:
Fela: "He would have gone to school earlier on in life" (Chorus = "No solution": meaning BUT IT will do him little or no good)
Fela: "They will teach him how to speak good English" (Chorus = "No solution": meaning BUT IT will do him little or no good)
Fela: "He will be taught nothing that will benefit him personally" (Chorus = No solution = meaning BUT IT will do him little or no good)
Fela: "They will give him a certificate, to work as an employee" (Chorus = "No solution": meaning BUt IT will do him little or no good)
Fela: "They will give him a certificate, to make him a civil servant" (Chorus = "No solution": meaning BUt IT will do him little or no good)
Fela: "They will give him a certificate, to make him a certified slave" (Chorus = "No solution": meaning BUt IT will do him little or no good)
From reading through the late Afro Beat musician's lyrics, the reader will - I hope - have seen the point I am making here that blindly pursuing a career without consciously planning for your future AFTER that career, can be the same thing as moving round in circles and achieving NO PERSONAL progress(Fela called it "Perambulating"). The choice is yours to make! The morale drawn from Fela's lyrics is even more relevant to the my next point(see B. below).
Now before you ask for my head, I am NOT saying it is bad to be an employee, or to pursue a long and fruitful career in a good company(though this can be hard to find these days!). What I AM saying is that while doing that, one should also prepare for the inevitable return to life out of paid employment, where, very often, the skills successfully used for survival in a salaried job can be found totally obsolete in the real-world!
B. Some(Salary Earners) Acquire Qualifications That Make Them Too Specialised To Do Anything Else
Some corporate multinationals require employees in various cadres of management to take, and pass, certain certification examinations in highly specialised fields, which they are told will increase their career advancement potentials within THAT company. The sometimes un-stated fact however is that most of these exams and qualifications DO NOT in any way make the holder more usefully skilled and therefore employable elsewhere. In a way that's good for the employer - BUT certainly not for the employee with lofty career ambitions!
The shocking reality of how limiting a specialist qualification can be, hit me in a bad way when I got a refusal letter sent to me regarding my application(in mid 2005) to enter the UK as a self-employed person to explore opportunities for business in that country under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme(HSMP).
Let me state here that the overall score awarded me or the fact that I was judged to be inadequately qualified are NOT the issue. Instead, I wish to point out how holding what was supposed to be an INTERNATIONALLY recognised professional brewing qualification(i.e Associate Membership Certification) awarded - following success in the qualifying examinations - by the UK based Institute & Guild Of Brewing which has membership spanning organisations across many continents DID NOT help my case in any way.
I Provide These Not So Pleasant Details To :
1. OPEN the eyes of any persons in paid employment who may wrongly assume they know all they think they know about their job status, entitlements etc. I urge you to find out and be sure what you find out is correct, so your future personal/career advancement plans don't blow up in your face.
2. Show that taking examinations which make you more equipped to do specialised jobs, potentially limiting choices you may have in future when the need for a career change arises(and it will!) is not in your best interest. You would be VERY wise to begin learning to be a generalist FIRST (as advised by Robert Kiyosaki) before becoming a specialist.
a. Request to work in other departments/functions of your company, so as to increase your skills and knowledge.
b. Attend seminars that will make you proficient in areas you think may in future hold opportunities for personal advancement for you. THIS MAY NOT EVEN be in your present company or on your current job!
c. Look out for opportunities for different job openings that will allow you acquire new, different and more varied knowledge and experiences which will come in useful later in your personal/work life.
C. (Some) Salary Earners Deliberately Publicise The Self-Employed Person's Setbacks
In order to dissuade others still in the company's employ from following his/her footsteps, some individuals or decision makers in a company, and/or sole proprietorship employers, make a point of publicising any setbacks a member who resigned to venture into self-employment suffers while s/he struggles to get the business off the ground.
When s/he records a significant advancement, they conveniently fail to "take note" or play it down. BUT as soon as news of a setback comes their way, they tell others - especially the impressionable young ones: "See, why it never pays to think you know...see how he is suffering now..? And s/he was warned, but just would not listen. You better think well before you do anything stupid and start regretting it!"
A point to note. Some of those who speak/act this way do so out of a need to eliminate their feeling of inadequacy. A feeling arising from seeing the former member demonstrate great courage(probably applauded by others at the time), to do something they had been unable to find the guts to do for years - despite being unhappy with their own jobs too!
I say to you who read this article at this moment. Do NOT let anyone deceive you into thinking the prolonged bouts of suffering a self-employed person may have to endure during his/her business startup is bad. Those experiences are meant to build up the willing person to become ultimately capable of running his/her venture profitably - for the long term.
Take the wisdom offered by your advisers in paid employment(who very often have little or NO experience in self-employment), and compare with what YOU SEE when you closely study an authentic entrepreneur whose actions/activities catch your attention and interest. Then pick up books written by those who have succeeded the honorable way and read(and I do mean READ!). You will eventually find the TRUE answer.
But take this from me now: Without the suffering, rejection, bitter disappointments, setbacks etc, a person is unlikely to fully mature into a competent entrepreneur, capable of achieving the tall ambitions s/he has.
D. (Some) Salary Earners Act This Way Because They Are Terrified
If there is one group of people who seem to be obsessed with self-delusion when it comes to serious matters like achieving one's life purpose, I have to say it's salary earners - AGAIN. Not all of them of course - but a considerable majority. If they made reasonable effort to keep their unfounded fears to themselves, it probably would not have been worth talking about.
Sadly, they hide behind the false sense of security provided by their jobs(and attendant benefits) to propagate all kinds of unfounded myths about the wisdom of venturing into self-employment.
But Why Are These Salary Earners So Terrified? I Offer Three Possible Reasons:
i]. They Are Terrified Of Giving Up A Steady Income Source. They simply cannot bear the thought of not being able to say, "I'm off to work this morning", knowing they might not have access to steady inflow of cash to carry on with their established lifestyles .
It gets even worse. When confronted with the reality of no pay(or if self-employed and unable to get clients to pay up), they will readily drop all pretences at being "honest" and accept to do illegal and/immoral things to avoid being seen "to be incapable of meeting their obligations".
In a particular case, the person concerned argued that if one was to be a "man", and support his family, one could not afford to insist on doing things right every time. What warped logic! The lack of social security/welfare systems in some underdeveloped countries like mine, make this problem even more relevant.
ii]. They Are Terrified Because They ALWAYS Put Money First. Many salary earners simply cannot imagine life without money to spend. They absolutely dread the thought of going through any period of time without the assurance of an inflow of steady income. Since going into self-employment carries with it the heavy risk of enduring often prolonged periods of cash shortages, they therefore fail to see why anyone in his right mind would decide to take a decision to do such a thing.
My argument is that it would however be wrong for anyone who feels that way, to justify his/her position by deliberately publicising - or even seeking ways to ensure - the failures of another who goes ahead to be self-employed. And this happens quite a bit. Maybe that's why the chinese have this entertaining proverb:
"Man who says it cannot be done, should not get in the way of man who wants to do it" - Chinese Proverb
What this group of fickle-minded individuals fail to understand is that the creatures called "entrepreneurs" - the authentic ones - many times do not put the desire for money ahead of their desire to create, and pioneer new ways of doing things, so as to improve the lives of others.
The authentic entrepreneur enjoys the thrill, the excitement and the challenge of doing something new, probably not done before or not done THAT way before. Evidence even exists that proves many entrepreneurs enjoy the journey more than they do, the actual attainment of their valued goal, which probably explains why they keep setting new heights to conquer, by launching other projects. This love for what they do, is also why most authentic entrepreneurs will readily continue their work, even when monetary rewards are yet to materialise.
But in addition to the "enjoyment" of their work, entrepreneurs also eventually "see" the money. As I said in my article titled Should You Quit Your Job or Start Your Business Part-time?, doing what you love WILL also eventually bring the ONE benefit(money!) that many people always seem to want to get first. That's why Marsha Sinetar said:
"Do what you love, and the money will follow" - Marsha Sinetar
iii]. They Are Terrified Because They Lack Vision/The Capacity To Visualise. Considering that most of the ideas they come up with tend to be what the larger society(which includes the terrified salary earners) cannot even comprehend, have never even thought of, and do not consider attainable, it is quite understandable that entrepreneurs get called "crazy", "mad", "unreasonable", "dreamers" etc.
When Marconi First Proposed The Concept That Made Tv/Radio Possible, His Friends Thought He Was Not "OK" Upstairs!
Today, we all take for granted the "reality" of being able to receive messages/transmissions through thin air, without physical wire connections from broadcast stations to TV and Radio sets in our homes. But it was Marconi, who came up with a principle which he claimed could be used to make this possible, at a time when nothing of the sort had ever been seen or done.
Guess what Marconi's "friends" did to him after he made this claim? They so "loved" him, and worried for his "sanity" that they forcefully took him to a mental hospital for examination! I am sure they must have been convinced he had gone off the deep end! Today, it would be ridiculous for anyone to even question the principles on which the TV and Radio work in our various homes and offices.
We really should thank entrepreneurs for refusing to be "reasonable", and instead being "dreamers" or simply "mad"!
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw
PLEASE Take My Warning In This Article Seriously
I urge you to give serious thought to all that I have said here. Endeavour to serve your employer well. But always remember that her obligation to you ends the day you are officially listed as retired, retrenched, redundant, rationalised - or if you're lucky to find the courage..."voluntarily resigned".
Begin today to think what you will do AFTER you leave that nice comfy job with the FREE medical benefits, pretty cars, free accommodation, scholarship for your kids, free meals at work, sponsored holidays etc. Don't let those numerous nice things of life turn you into an invalid who does not know left from right by the time you get back into the UHK - University of Hard Knocks(aka the real-world). And YOU WILL one day have to return to the real-world.
Here's another reason to take me seriously. For two years(prior to quitting my job) I tried very hard to highlight in my resume the wonderful specialised international qualification I had, in many applications for different jobs in other companies, and found NOT one interested in it. When I spoke with others at courses I attended, a blank look always came into their eyes whenever I told them I possessed this qualification.
Then it hit me! What useful value could I really offer any employer - especially in my country, where the brewing profession is not as established as in the UK - aside from the one I currently worked for with that specialised qualification ? Almost nothing - except an employer who happened to be in the same/similar industry. I could only think of ONE other company that fit the bill, and I certainly did not want to go there!
It was then that I realised what it felt like to be "trapped". And I became even more determined to do something about my situation. This led me eventually to quit my job, and start my own business in order to fulfill my own long standing personal ambitions. You are reading all this now, because I found my true purpose - and followed it.
If doing so is what it means to be "MAD" as some of my former colleagues are supposed to have said, then I hope to be diagnosed with the most extreme form of MADNESS possible by the time I breathe my last breath!
Self-Development/Performance Enhancement Specialist – Tayo Solagbade - devotes his time to exploring new frontiers of Self-Development Education, especially as it relates to showing people what they can do by themselves, for themselves to achieve their set goals - DESPITE the limitations of their circumstances or environment.
To get more useful Tips, Information And News that can help you do what you do more successfully, visit http://www.spontaneousdevelopment.com/news/sdacn_current.htm