I WASN’T GOING to mention the economic news. Really I wasn’t. But my pen refused to stay still any longer. So I would like to say that we are all going to die. And the death that awaits us will be a horrible passing in a dank poorhouse, probably caused by the sky falling down.
At least that’s what you would believe if you listened to what the economic experts are telling us. You know the ones: the talking heads on our TV screens every evening who relentlessly bang on about “economic meltdown” and “credit crunch calamity”, recession, depression, turmoil, adversity, hardship, disaster and ruin. It’s how they make their living.
Well I for one wish they would get off our backs. So, here’s a story with a message. And it involves a parachute jump. When I was learning to parachute (or become a “meat-bomb”, as the pilots refer to it) the jump master told us that the horizon-wide landing zone (LZ) contained one object and one object only: a tree. “When you are coming in to land, do not – under any circumstances – look at the tree,” he instructed us. “If you look at the tree it will become a powerful magnet, and you WILL hit it.”
Rally drivers know this, too. If they go into a skid the last thing they should keep their eyes on is the ditch or the wall. Instead, they will look at the gap; where they want the vehicle to go. Quite simply, if they look at anything else then that’s where they, and their rally car, are going to end up.
In other words, they focus on where they want to be, rather than where they DON’T want to be. My line of performing involves working with the mind – mine and others – day in and day out. I’ve built an act on the scientific principle that where the eyes look the body follows.
It’s a simple truth that if we saturate our minds with the vision of a financial holocaust, then that’s exactly where we are heading. And no mistake. Yes, there are going to be problems. And yes, people are already losing their jobs.
Now, I’m not a great one for mentioning individuals in my column, but let me tell you about some companies right here in West Lothian.
Elite Control Systems Ltd in Livingston is run by a Sam and Ewan who were caught up in the last economic downturn but ignored the “neggies” and started a company which now employs around 30 people, working all around the world, while giving generously (though quietly) to local charities.
Then there’s Ashwood Scotland, a Whitburn construction company that was launched by Archie at a time when the economic outlook was grim. Even so, he built a million pound business which, besides being an economic success, established a charity foundation that has put hundreds of thousands of pounds into the coffers of West Lothian charities.
I am honoured to know many such West Lothian entrepreneurs. And do you know what? Almost without exception every one of them was a victim of some previous employer going bust, or mine closures, or the car plant shutting down. Yet they marked that as a starting point, rather than their ruination.
We produce remarkable business-orientated leaders in West Lothian, we really do. These are ordinary individuals, who went to local schools, gained an O level or two, found themselves in 9 to 5 jobs and then were turfed out onto the street. They were made redundant… but decided not to become fixated on the tree looming ever larger on the horizon.
That’s why I predict that among those in this little county of ours there are many who are about to lose their jobs, and among that number there are dozens of individuals who will set up the remarkable, innovative companies of tomorrow. Why can I be so confident in my prediction? (Apart from the fact it’s what I do for a living, obviously.) It’s because that’s what us folks from West Lothian get on and do!
So, maybe we should ignore the media prophets of doom. Instead, we should take heed of the expertise and experience of those remarkable people behind the small and medium businesses in West Lothian who have already grasped the opportunities that can be enjoyed from having a free rein to run their own lives the way they want. Those whose foresight and confident thinking has provided an army of employees with a settled and decent livelihood.
Or, if you prefer, we can sit, staring at those so-called TV “experts”. But, of course, it’s not the TV we’re staring at… it’s that magnetic tree!
Drew McAdam (and PJ)