This article is intentionally provocative in the hope that it will draw attention to the urgent need for employees to create personal wealth and prod them to make proper use of employment opportunity.
The five reasons why employees in Africa will never progress are simple enough. In fact they are not based on any complex economic formula. Rather, they are as a result of what employees erroneously believe about employment. On the main, employees have;
- A convoluted impression of the purpose of income.
- No idea what money is or what money is for.
- No knowledge of how to create wealth.
- Misunderstood the concept of a career development.
- A deep seated hatred for work.
While these reasons may appear straightforward, it is amazing how ignorance of these basic truths maintains millions of employees in poverty throughout and even after their employment careers. Some people would like to use these five reasons as a check off list to evaluate their personal progress, but these five reasons are integrated (not separate), interwoven and feed off each other. A person with a convoluted sense of income will not make progress for ALL the other four reasons as well. To make progress is to have a progressive perspective in ALL five elements. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding ensures that one generation of employees hands over substantial poverty to the next generation of employees.
While people the world over make it top priority to secure themselves a job and are under the impression the purpose of employment is to earn a living. In other words, the purpose of employment is to get an income to supply the necessities of living. On the surface this seems reasonable, but it does not stretch the imagination of the employee to become self-reliant which is the basis of ALL progress! Employees only seek an income in order to eat, thus instead of becoming independent, employees become dependent on their income. Neither does it help that employees define income as money and thus are unable to access and make use of all the other lifetime benefits that employment provides. Employees, of their own accord, scale down their own sum total income from employment.
Employees have no understanding of employment, income or enterprise, to employees, employment is an occupation – no more, no less. Nevertheless, an occupation is no more meaningful than a pastime, a hobby, social obligation or an engagement that enables a person to while away any time they may have on their hands. Employment therefore has no significant purpose! Since employees have nothing to do, they seek employment to assist them use their time meaningfully and live life purposefully. While this is not a bad thing, it does mean that without employment, employees are prone to doing no-thing! Income is all that comes to you and is made available to you by virtue of your employment - that income is so vast it is unquantifiable!
Employees mistakenly think that a job is a source of wealth. However, a job does not guarantee income. At best it is an opportunity to work and create in. Employees can only appreciate income if they understand the purpose of employment. The purpose of employment is to 1) teach you how to work, 2) show you how to create wealth and 3) give you the keys to enterprise. Of the three, enterprise is the most powerful yet most despised and ignored of all three. It is also the main reason why former employees are unproductive and unable to take care of themselves after employment! If there is one thing I would pray that employees learn during employment it is enterprise. However, employees remain so blinkered on salary payments that they never see the value of the total income they have access to.
Employees have no clue what to do with their money, leave alone understand what it is. Employees treat money as a prize they have won for persevering through a period of contracted labor and therefore feel justified to consume it all on their upkeep in anticipation of the next prize. It hardly occurs to them that it is capital they have earned for their personal development! While money itself does not discriminate into whose hands it falls, an entrepreneurial mind will see it as capital to create wealth, the ignorant employee mind will find ways to dispense of it as quickly as possible. One mind thinks of multiplying it, the other thinks of throwing it away. One mind will invest; the other will relieve the mind of stress by dispensing with it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Employees have no idea why it is necessary to save invest and build up personal capital. There is a characteristic difference between the way entrepreneurs and employees use money. However, there is no difference in the texture of the money handles by the two groups.
Unfortunately, employees view the purpose of money as the permission to enjoy life rather than plan their lives. When it dawns on a person that the absolute value of money is ZERO (nothing) and that money is purely a convenient means of exchange, then progressive employee will use that money to create wealth. The quality of ones’ life is related to the quality of the use of resources at hand, including money. It is not the amount of money you spend that creates wealth, but what you spend your money on. Eating (expensive) cakes every day will not yield the same results as eating (low cost) vegetables. Wealth does not come with how much money you earn, but with what you do with what you earn.
Unknown to employees, employment gives them unconditional access to development capital. When an enterprise needs to grow the business, banks provide capital (cash) at high interest rates and stringent repayment conditions. Yet employees have unfettered access to capital with every pay check. However, rather than grow themselves, employees who lack business sense freely consume it all in the stupid assurance that they will get a pay check next month.
Evidence that each generation retiring to poverty (and handing over poverty to the next generation) after many years of employment confirms that generation had no thought of creating wealth. It confirms that the previous generation handed over no clue as to what the next generation should do in order to create wealth. Work is the ability to create wealth. The ability to work is the capacity (read capital) to create wealth! This truth is lost on too many employees who have no clue that they are creating wealth for others, but worse, still refuse to create wealth for themselves. Leave alone the fact the employees will only work if they are paid and therefore diminish and dismiss their own capacity to create wealth!
The fact that professors are looking for jobs is testimony to the fact that they would rather earn an income than exercise skills to create wealth. Employees in Africa are employed for their qualifications and have no clue that their skills are what create wealth. Unfortunately, employees live their entire careers without understanding the difference between qualifications and skills! Wealth is not how much you earn it is the substance that you accumulate and sustainably generate from your income. Wealth is the substance (property, assets, resources) you gather and the industry you control to grow and sustain that substance.
Employees believe that a career is a series of promotions in status or income. However, this great folly only comes to light when an employee is fired, retired or loses a job for one reason or the other. Only then do employees reflect on the opportunity lost! In this hopeless condition, employees admit that if they were given their jobs again they would save more, learn more and develop themselves more for the day they will leave employment!
There is a myth that many employees play hide and seek with in employment it goes by the name career. Employees pursue it all their lives and never actually live it. It is a constant daily hunt for fulfillment that they believe is in the control of their employer and employment. Employees work as if they are rehearsing for a play. Life has no rehearsals what you do is what life is. In other words employees fail to realize that they are in control of their own destiny, satisfaction and fulfillment. A career is the way you choose to live your life. If you choose to hate your work you have just made a career out of it. Your career is how you choose to spend your life! Make a career more to create wealth.
A person with a progressive, wealth creating mindset with take control of their destiny by sitting down and analyzing what resources they have in their hands, what opportunities they have and work out their own success in full cognizance of the circumstances they are in and perhaps want to work themselves out of! A career is the path one chooses and uses to make progress in life. Not all employees start at the same place or same level in life. However, every employee is personally responsible for their own progress in life. Unfortunately, I often hear it said, “I earn to little to save”, those people who say that are not aware that there are those who earn so much that they see no need to save – both those people end up with nothing to show for all the effort spent in a career. A career is not an acquisition of certificates; however, a career is an accumulation and utilization of skills and competencies in one’s personal life (first) and professional work (next).
There is no doubt that employees work hard, are hard workers and work long hours. However, this does not translate into wealth, despite the fact that the ability to work is the capacity to create wealth. Employees are endowed with an invaluable gift of capital that they somehow manage to despise. Employees hate work and therefore remain blind to its transformational power. My Physics teacher taught me that Work=Effort X Distance. Nonetheless, the painful reality is that employees put in a great deal of effort yet take no steps to create wealth in their lives.
Instead of working towards creating wealth, employees occupy themselves with activities such as looking for a better paying job in that hope that such a job will make them rich. He who is faithful with little is faithful with much, but he who cannot manage little cannot manage much. A better paying job is not a source of wealth. A better paying job is only an opportunity to work for a little more money. If you did not benefit from working in a little job, your work habits will NOT change in the “big” job. The result will be exactly the same – both result in the inability to create wealth!
Employees hate their jobs, employment and their employers so much that they cannot benefit from this love hate relationship- Hate the work, Love the Money. Employees put more energy into looking for the next gold mine rather than making use of the Gold that has been provided them.
For employees in Africa to make progress, create wealth and eliminate poverty, it will take a change in employee belief systems. There must be a change of attitude and commitment to personal development. There must be an ownership of one generation to pass on the knowledge of wealth creation to the next generation. There needs to be a transformational mind shift in the collective wisdom of employees.
Many years ago, on my first job I met an elderly man named Akhwale. After watching me spend all my salary on useless things for a few months, Akhwale brought me forms to fill to join the cooperative society and stood by as I filled them. I was amused by his initiative, but I did not wish to disappoint him so I duly filled the forms. When I left the company 18 months later, the money I had saved in the cooperative was ALL and the ONLY money I left the company with. I had nothing else to show that I had worked in the company for more than a year! What do you have to show for all your years in employment!
All this does not have to be! What is required is not resources and technology, All that is required to make a progressive employee is a mind shift a change in attitude and a personal commitment to gratefully make use of the opportunity provided by employment to change ones fortune! However, this wisdom is not a function of status. Highly paid senior staff enjoy life in total ignorance of these truths and suffer the same fate a not so well paid employees who lack the principles of employment wisdom.
The Bible records that a wise man leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren. It seems that there is a derth of wise men in Africa. However, a negative, nonchalant, non-progressive or unwholesome attitude towards wealth creation will ensure that every successive generation of employees in Africa will not create wealth and thus end up with less wealth than they started with. Poverty is not a state of being, it is a condition of losing the wealth you have and wasting the opportunity you had to create it.
Allan Bukusi is the author of the following ebooks
The Master Trainer
The Master Trainer