At TLC we like to think differently. So when we saw the latest unemployment figures from the UASA union, reported in Times Live with the headline “More adults not working than working in South Africa“, we wanted to avoid falling into the trap of the victim mentality which plagues this country, and present an alternative. One which recognises the hardship but calls for it not be used as an excuse which blinds us to opportunity.
Yes, South Africa has one of the most serious unemployment crises in the world. And little has been done to improve the situation in over two decades of ANC government. Indeed with the effect of land expropriation now pushing us officially into recession, it’s understandable people are getting desperate.
But history is full of people who despite – or perhaps even, some say, because – of their dire circumstances, made a success of their lives. Richard Maponya is a classic example of this, building businesses despite repressive Apartheid restrictions and blocks, while the mayor here in Johannesburg, Herman Maxaba, following a poor upbringing, created the biggest hair brand in South Africa, Black Like Me.
Further afield, Gary Vaynerchuk, a Belarusian American entrepreneur turned inspirational speaker, who transformed the immigrant family wine business into an e-commerce empire, delivers a direct, no bull message to anyone inclined to feel sorry for themselves (if you think you can handle it, check out his YouTube channel for some hard lessons, as well as inspiring stories).
You can blame your circumstances, the economy – heck, the weather! But that isn’t going to change your circumstanced. We are not our circumstances – we are much more than that. And whatever difficulties we have in our lives they do not define us. The challenge is to decide that our circumstances will not define us and that we can achieve what we set out to if we believe and work consistently to get it.
So as more people leave the traditional job market, let’s look at this as more opportunities to serve the community in unique ways, on our own terms, not on those dictated by distant politicians. And let us trust that by focussing on service, our own future will be taken care of. That is the heart and soul of the new breed of conscious entrepreneurs we are here to serve at TLC.