Respect, so important, going hand in hand with freedom of speech. A basic recognition and acknowledgement for the appreciation of another’s journey. Without it comes the denial of underlying interpersonal connection. The us vs. them concept is comforting in some ways. We can reassure ourselves that perceived unpleasant qualities are not us, but the other. Falling victim to the left brain’s insatiable desire to categorize, we put everything into neat little cubbyholes. The left brain is uncomfortable unless taking refuge in its order. The breeze of open, free flowing perception moving through the right brain is unwelcome. This way the left brain can safely hold fast to the individual personalities it has become.
Recently, an experience struck a chord in me as a small business person. It was the kind of statement that cuts through to one’s core. In my younger life, it was so much easier to live in a world of beliefs and theories. Life, economic systems could be just as theoretical as I wished. Gradually though my world changed, survival and the need for prosperity moved to the forefront becoming my daily reality.
I chose this path in life purposefully. I knew it would not be the easy way, but it entailed the kind of challenges I thought would develop the qualities in myself where I was weakest. Along with this choice came the weight of 100% responsibility. No longer could I pretend my actions and the effects of them were not my own. In this reality of life, actions and their reactions stand in stark relief. Success or failure, it was all up to me. I knew deep inside that this had always been the case, but it was so much easier to deny under other circumstances. As my reality developed, I knew that even if I could, I would have it no other way. On this path I had to be honest with myself.
The many people I’ve met and worked with, have had just as many different beliefs and philosophies. They can be so helpful, providing the opportunities I need to learn and grow.
Sometimes though, the simplest statement and the timing of it, intentional or not, can say more about how a person regards your lifestyle than an entire book. My feelings on this are nothing unique. They are shared by many small business people and certainly the successful ones.
One statement can say all these things.
It tells people they are basically fools to work 100 hour weeks for below minimum wage, seeking to improve upon and deliver the best product they possibly can. If only they had followed a different philosophy, they could have received equal pay whether they made a strong effort or not.
It says they believe that innovation and initiative resulting from extra effort and one’s dreams are of little value.
It says they see no problem in forcibly taking what one works for and earns and giving it to someone else regardless of effort.
It says that out there somewhere groups of men, who are unlikely to have worked a day in their lives in small business, know better than they how their earnings should be spent rather than providing for their own families.
It says that if we were left to rely upon what is deep inside us, that link called conscience, we would care little or nothing about helping others in need.
It says that in ways they may not even be aware of, that addiction is more important to sustain than providing job training, education and developing feelings of self-worth.
It says that making opportunities for others to work in their business just isn’t that important.
It says that prosperity through effort should be allowed to grow only to a certain point, much like telling an artist to do their best work and be “sort of creative,” and anything above this point should be punished.
It says that working “for the greater good” will somehow move our country forward by putting less emphasis on individual achievement.
It says they believe in a system of government while they cannot point to a single example of long term success that comes even close to the growth the free enterprise system has fostered in this country.
Ultimately, it says to the small business person that their life could have been lived better, if only they had coasted and looked to mediocrity over growth.
All these things can be said in one simple statement.
“I believe we should have a country, where all income earned is collected into one central source and divided equally among everyone.”