The road to Mecca

Those of you who have been fortunate enough to make the obligatory pilgrimage know what the long journey feels like and what it means when you have finally reached your destination. You also know that this spiritual journey can take years, and for most of us it takes a lifetime. I have chosen this title deliberately as a metaphor for the hard choices and the consequential journeys that many are faced with are taking today. These are difficult times. Even the most loyal and talented workers, unskilled, skilled, blue collar, professional, call them what you may, are given the dreaded pink slip.

It is also happening a lot more often than it used to before. Those still seated behind their desk, or working quietly at their table, dread the day when it is their turn next. In spite of the encouraging job market statistics being released every month – unemployment rates dropping, that is – we are not yet out of the woods. Job markets, like the risky world of investment trading, are speculative at best. In spite of encouraging signs here and there, no-one is really convinced that things will be the epitome of a perfect world just yet.

Also, those statistics are not entirely telling the true story. What the data omitted to show, or have concealed for now, is the distinction between the unemployed, the employed, those that have simply given up looking for another job and most importantly, those that are now self-employed.

Back to the title of this post. It is not original; most of you will have noticed that by now. But true to my own form, I acknowledge the origination of my source or the motivation for using, in this case, the title. ‘The road to Mecca’ was purposely selected from the play written and produced by one of the world’s greatest living play-writes, South African-born Athol Fugard. Some of you may have been privileged enough to attend one or two of his masterful works. In any case, Fugard now lives in Los Angeles. Well into his eighties, this gentleman is still working.

And so should we. Anyway, the title of his play is a metaphor for the harsh hand that life sometimes deals us and the journey we must take to get through it. If I’m not mistaken, it also has a lot to do with making the right decisions. It has something to do with the consequences of taking the wrong path when that fork in the road has been reached. In our secular world, many of us are faced with difficult decisions more often than not.

One of the most difficult decisions that any decent, moral woman is faced with is going it alone in terms of employment. After losing her job – through no fault of her own, and in spite of impeccable credentials – it is often more difficult to land the next job, in spite of her best efforts. And even when a job is secured, it often means taking a gigantic cut in wages. If you forgive the expression for now, it screws everything up. I speak from experience because I’ve been down that road at least twice in my short life.

The great thing about taking that gigantic leap of faith and accepting the hard decision to turn to self-employment as a means to making ends meet is that you have a much greater chance at succeeding. It goes without saying that if you never try you will never know. You also have a better chance at making a success of being self-employed and doing better than when you were working for a large multinational that paid you below the hemline anyway.

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