The Requiem of Positive Thinking: Part 3 – The Master

I can relate to this one! Nothing worse than being stuck and trapped with little options!

I can relate to this one! Nothing worse than being stuck and trapped with little options!

Even though I am only 34 at the time of writing this article, I have been along in the workforce and business space long enough to see a few cycles.

I grew up in the “milk and honey” days of the 90’s, had a great career in the early 2000’s and like many of us – got totally shafted during the GFC with the ongoing recession from there. I was unemployed for 6 months, lost all my life savings and interesting got “punished” badly for doing exactly what I was told too as a child would make me successful.  That is, good grades, working hard, loving your boss, being dedicated to your company.

Only to get evicted out on the street and go from living a life style you are used too, to counting your pennies at a supermarket, trying to figure out how to have enough food, pay your rent and have some form of existence.

Now I am in my own business and have been for a while, I find myself looking back on what I endured and meeting great people just like me who are still trapped in situations which aren’t helping them or their families.

One large shift I have observed is how the rules of the workplace has changed great in the last few years (especially post-GFC).  In my 20’s, it was more a “partnership” so to speak. Sure, you have a boss, you have to follow the rules and all that – but there was a lot more “give” allocated against the “take”.

As the world has changed, the workforce has become much more of a darker place and things are much more “master / slave” rather than “employee / worker” these days.

That is salaries aren’t what they used to be (relative to inflation and cost of living), there are just not enough jobs so employers know that people can get replaced easily and if someone is “taken out” or eliminated these days – human cost is just irrelevant.  Perhaps I am seeing things more from a “Sydney, Australia” perspective – but at least my take on things.

Then you get some companies that defy the trend. I have met a few people from Google and it’s the best company on earth to work at and because of it’s reputation the running joke I hear (obviously founded in truth) is that it’s easier to become a cop or a solider than getting into Google.  And last time I checked they weren’t doing too badly.  During the “milk & honey” times where things weren’t as dark, positive thinking was rampant and I was on of those idiots following that cycle.  The reality is that in today’s world, it’s all out the window and “realistic / negative” thinking seems to be the mode of choice by most of the successful people I know (i.e. not just talking money, health, relationships, morale etc).

I am not the first person obviously to say “don’t rely on your job” for income and please for a second don’t think I am about to launch into a “armway” pitch or anything like that.  I am more coming from the point of view of the requiem of positive thinking for myself and many of us.

The world is tighter these days, so one must be more clever and astute to work and prosper in these times.  To me, one must be wary of the dynamics of the “new Workplace” and ensure you don’t pretend everything is “wonderful”.  That is, you understand what you are getting into, your benefits and penalties so when they day comes you get thown out, you are all prepared and ready to take action. Even better if you have a business on the side if you were like me trying to escape the modern slavery of the post-GFC workforce.

Don’t start me on hours too, I know great people who are earning about $50K / year and if they leave anytime before 7PM at night (after starting at 7AM) they get negative looks.

Am I saying become hippies and do 36 hour weeks? Of course not, but end of the stick is getting that much sharper and pointed.  So if you are about to into the workforce, please take heed of my own failures and if you are stuck in the workforce please take notice of my own successes! There is way out, so keep at it in style!

Hope you enjoy this one, I love hearing stories about what other good people face, so feel free to drop me a line anytime!

The Requiem of Positive Thinking: Part 2 – The Recession

Just be more Positive? I don't think so - a fate suffered by me twice and many good honest people that deserve better!

Just be more Positive? I don’t think so – a fate suffered by me twice and many good honest people that deserve better!

I had a fantastic meeting with one of my colleagues and we both come from a “corporate employee” background and become business owners.  We were comparing notes and take out a few differences in circumstances, we basically have a very similar story:

– Brought up with the “employee” mindset, work hard, get a good job, good grades and do whatever your boss wants.

– Keep doing that over and over again.  Don’t work on businesses as they are risky.

– Get noticed at work and get that promotion.

Well, I know I am speaking a pretty solid message these days and this old mindset is obviously kaput in this modern, “Post-GFC” world.  One point we really clicked was employment conditions prior / post the GFC and the start of the world-wide recession.

The reality is that whatever power was in the hands of the employee has drastically swung to that of the employer. Pre-GFC things I think were much more balanced and as an employee one had some rights and quite a few options, but these days the job boards suggest it’s the other way around.  That is, for every job – there is an endless line of recruits available and employers know it! I find small businesses are much better at looking after their workers, and this is more aimed at the corporates – i.e. they are pure economic machines and they churn and burn innocent workers as need be.

When we compared notes about our histories, we found some great commonalities of experiences – one point that really resonated was the line you may have heard:

“The world is tough and we are going through cut-backs.  You are very lucky to be here, wages won’t go up like they used too and you need to work harder.  But consider it a privilege that you have a job and you should be happy.”

Wow.  This is quite profound.  Before you think I am on a communist style rant where we are all entitled to jobs, no I am not a communist and believe in capitalism and free enterprise.  But we have both heard this line almost exact word for word and to be it has some scary connotations that tells us where the employment world has gone.   It’s a disturbing trend whereby we are working harder, for less money and only getting poorer as time passes.

There is an obvious shift in our economy which has been trending like this for a while and is  even more dramatic – the workplace isn’t the safe haven it once was and it’s going from the “two-way employment” type scenario to an obvious “master / slave” relationship.

After one of my worst employers ever personally screwed me over – they served our relationship with this basic line “well, you chose to work here, you have options and I can do whatever I like to you”. To me, many are hearing this more and more and where I went wrong in my life was indulging myself in “positive thinking” – that is, instead of reading the signs and understanding the degradation of the corporate workplace (except for a few employers which I think are great!) I went all happy clappy positive like the positive thinkers tell you to do. I wasted a good 5 – 8 years of my life doing this and they are some years I am not getting back.

In my own personal death of positive thinking my lovely colleague is in the similar boat – i.e. having many of their own “One held truths” being killed off one by one in a sad, but completely objective and factual manner.

Hence the requiem of positive thinking for many of us – I think it can be a great means of escapism but like any drug – it’ short term effects are overtaken by dramatic consequences that are not only painful to ourselves, but our families.

So, I have been obviously “very negative” here, but tell me – do you think I am wrong? I would doubt it big time, to me this reinforces my thinking – by admitting that things are screwed, it puts us in a position where we can do something and get some powerful results.

It could be working hard for another job, starting a business, moving departments, studying – anything, i.e. playing the hand we are dealt and creatively working through it.

The big trick to this is that the “wrong” companies will basically beat you up, keep your self-esteem love and get you believing why you should hand over your dreams to them and not take any action to improve your situation that is against their own selfish (and at times) purely evil agendas.

So my big lesson after surviving this and meeting other people is hang in there, ignore everyone and “listen to yourself” – biased advice from the wrong people is certainly not there for your benefit!

Hope you enjoy this one! My thoughts are coming together as I write these articles so feel free to leave a comment or visit me at my business website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this – Edward Zia thinks you are awesome!