Be your own boss - the great white lie ?
Google, if you will, 'the three biggest lies' and the web will provide you with a range of well worn untruths - several of which are more than a bit coarse to be honest. Recent experience prompts me to add another - let's call it the Great White Lie - and it's not rude at all - which is ' Become self employed and then you can be your own boss'.
Being your own boss, being self employed - in the eyes ( and from the mouths) of many of our current political leaders and other alleged 'opinion formers' - is a state of economic nirvana and a bringer of bliss previously unimagined and unimaginable to both the individual and society at large. I can't help but note that many of those energetically thumping this particular tub do so from a vantage point safely within the secure fence of the salaried classes. As a result ( and to switch religious traditions) their panting enthusiasm for this new economic order seems to echo St Augustine's famous prayer when wrestling with his own ambiguous desires ' O Lord, make me chaste - but not just yet'.
I should stress that I speak with the anxious authority of one actually experiencing it - not chastity but self - employment, that is. I have been a little preoccupied with trying to make it work for myself to reflect too much on the experience recently but feel obliged to return for a little while to my self appointed task as a chronicler of the vagaries and vanities of working for one's self.
It's the ' Be your own boss' bit that has given me particular pause for thought. Its true indeed that you are your own boss to the extent that there is no one else sitting above, alongside or below you with pressures and demands - or constraining how you go about a task.
But if you move into self employment from a comfortable berth in some well upholstered corporate you relinquish all manner of relationships and levers that actually allowed you to get things done. In short some modest ( and in all our cases I am sure conscientiously exercised) element of power. And its as well to be very clear sighted indeed about how significant those things are. On the outside of course all of that disappears. If your fledgling business requires that you interact at some level with the big boys of commerce then you find that you are - sadly - fairly powerless. And it can be particularly chastening that the warm and encouraging personal network that you had seems to have owed (inevitably) not a little to the big big brand that stood behind you.
So in the early stages being your own boss provides the wonderfully double edged experience of being responsible for everything and in real control of nothing.
And all that having been said the huge satisfaction of securing and then delivering a piece of work simply on the back of your own imagination, application and ingenuity does begin to give the ' being your own boss' mantra some real oompmh
A personal anecdote. My elder daughter in her pre-university gap year spend a couple of months in New Zealand. On her must-do list for the trip ( unbeknown to her doting parents) was a bungee-jump - in the place it was invented. When she got back regaling us with this and other high spots, I noticed that she could have bought a video of her jump. Problem was she told me that while she had felt the jump had been completed with elegance, style and some brio - the video that she has viewed showed a tumbling and comical flailing of arms and legs and not too much else So she passed on brining the video home for the delectation of family and friends.
And maybe the real task - as with so much else in life - is to turn that sort of experience inside out. Setting off on your own in business feels like nothing more than the out of control falling and jerking of a bungee jump. What you need your customers to perceive is the elegant and stylish descent accomplished through the achievement grace under pressure. Like bungee jumping itself its all about elasticity and stretching the point.
And maybe if you can just pull it off that's an acceptable Great White Lie.