Peter Block told a magazine: “I think that people are more afraid now about losing their jobs and feel more vulnerable than employees have ever felt based on what I have seen. It is not caused by the recent recession. It is beyond the recession. Regarding the humanness of our institutions, this is where I don’t see much progress. I am not blaming HR. People are afraid of their bosses, and they are isolated in their work.”
Peter Block has consulted to many of the world’s largest and most complex corporations, government agencies and public service institutions for more than 35 years.
It was my humble honour to eventually meet him in South Africa after following his breakthrough work for many years.
He has been one of the most influential and effective strategists and practitioners in the field of organisational change. A book he co-authored with John McKnight, “The Abandoned Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods” and “Community: The Structure of Belonging” have been influential in showing people how to empower themselves and their communities.
I’m using his quote to highlight the fear that people have and often because they have a mistaken belief that they are powerless to create the own sources of income, to take charge of their own futures or in the words of a popular book some years ago, to control their own destiny or let somebody else do it for them.
When I lost my job in the food industry, with two very young children to support, I felt the fear and was really only able to rise above because of a stranger I met who became my mentor. It’s funny how a stranger rather than family or friends, can often be the saving grace in your life.
Fortunately I had been the writing on the wall and a few years before that had started to skill myself in small business through one of the best institutions at the time. I had managed to hoard some savings to carry me through the “Valley of death”.
Losing your job is frightening but it can open unexpected doors. It’s painful, soul destroying and attacks at your self-confidence but it can be character building, focusing the most important things in your life and motivating you to take massive action. But let’s make no bones about it, catching up with your previous income may take years.
What can you do about planning for possible changes in your life or income?
It may sound inconsequential but the very first thing is to start immediately to build up a cash kitty, a cash reserve. You’ve got a put something away for a rainy day. As my father always used to sing, “You’ve got to put your money in the bank Frank, you’ve got to have money to start” – but by this he meant that you need capital.
When it’s not raining and you don’t need an umbrella it’s time to get yourself some training. Either skill yourself in an area or feel that you are passionate about or start equipping yourself with small business skills. Please, please don’t think what you learn in the giant corporations is going to be transferable into the world of small business. It’s a dumb mistake that too many people make.
You may also want to start experimenting by creating your own sources of income. Start small. Don’t give up. Even if you don’t start a venture of your own, be like a friend of mine who has three or four rental properties, which means he never has to worry about income ever in his life again.
If a you want to begin even in a small way to build up and insurance policy to protect yourself against the vulnerability of employment, take this small step and get yourself a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”. It will help you begin your mind shift.