If a foreigner were to ask about life in Great Britain, what would we answer?
Would we tell of our lives driven by family and community, of our young people engaged, educated, motivated, healthy and responsible, of our doctors and police valued and respected, of our innovative and forward-thinking politicians motivated by integrity and the genuine welfare of their countrymen, of a nation of social and business entrepreneurs fixing society and the economy?
Or would we tell of our individualism and lack of social awareness, of our young people’s disrespect and disillusionment, of our out-of-touch politicians’ detachment and ineffectiveness, of greedy and selfish mega-business, of our obsession with money, celebrity, fashion and material gain, of our blame culture destroying personal and collective responsibility, of our political correctness replacing common sense and common courtesy, of our pervasive security and fear culture stifling growth, or our welfare state promoting dependence rather than self-initiative?
We have arrived at a critical moment in time. The time has come to ask, here and now, what kind of society we wish to live in, what kind of society we leave for our children and their children, what kind of example we wish to set the rest of the world. Because as society stands, our future is bleak.
We therefore have no choice but to set an entirely new agenda for the way we live our lives, laying new foundations for a healthy society that places its values on individual and collective hard work, taking responsibility for our own lives, being involved in community and with family, on finding wellbeing and purpose.
It’s a task that calls on each and every one of us to take our place at the table and play our role in a better society that will continue to serve many generations after our time. It’s a task that requires us to stand up within our communities, to look around us, to help each other, to help ourselves.
In 1997, at age 18, I found myself with no job, little education, no home and no future. Despite coming from a broken home, a broken education and the odd encounter with police, I decided to take charge of my life and make something happen. Higher education was not going to provide the direction or the hunger for getting stuck into life and a conventional workplace was not suited to my creative drive.
Instead, I invested the £300 savings in my bank, printed some letterheads and started a small business. Over the next 11 years, that business went on to employ nearly 200 people, provide a valuable service to its customers and gave me a life of character-building hard work, determination and financial security that I could be proud of. My starting point was never something as cheap as money, prestige or material goods, but the inherent value of creating something and making things happen for me and others around me.
Entrepreneurialism, from the French ‘entreprende’ for ‘undertake’, is typically associated with business, but it is really about making things happen, in business or society. It is about identifying problems and creating and trying out new ideas and solutions, whether starting a business venture, a community project or a personal project, simply taking a seed and growing something new and unique.
Across the undeveloped and developing world, the one aspect of poverty that nobody talks about is the entrepreneurialism and industriousness. Despite the harshest conditions, millions of individual people make the most of their lives, running businesses, scratching a living and in doing so, they achieve self-worth. Not a single handout sought or blame apportioned. Just hard work and self-help. And always with a smile.
In Britain, we have seemingly lost the power to help ourselves, looking to others for solutions. But we are capable beyond measure. We are our own leaders if we choose to be. We do not need politicians or bureaucrats to tell us what to do, how to live and what we need to improve our lives, what is best for us and when, where and how. We have the self-knowledge and power to take control of our own lives and those around us, to do what is best for our children, our families and our communities. Politics is simply the business of people and public affairs.
Following the riots which brought home quite how broken and separated we are from ourselves and each other, we have an opportunity to change the course of history and every single person has the power to be a part of that change.
But that is only possible if we stand up and take part, if we participate, if we are interested, if we take responsibility, if we lead our children by example and affect others to do the same with a sense of common good. It is every man’s responsibility and anything less is a dereliction of duty. And in doing so, we can be proud of the society that we have each played a part in creating.
The time has arrived to become a nation of business and social entrepreneurs who make things happen, for ourselves, our families, our communities, our country. As a great man once said, ‘become the change you want to see’. In work, in personal life, everywhere, walk out of the door today, find purpose and make something happen that matters to you and for those around you. It’s not apathy or lack of purpose that has stopped us so far, it’s just that nobody has shown us how fulfilling and rewarding it is to participate and make things happen.
This post was written by RUDI SCHOGGER
Rudi Schogger is an Business and Social Entrepreneur.