What is Your Option B?

There was a story of an interface between an old woman and a merchant at a market who had many parrots for sale. The old woman noticed that the parrots comfortably perched on a horizontal bar. To her surprise, none of the parrots was inside the cages provided for them and neither were any of the birds attempting to fly away. She was fascinated by the birds’ complacency and was forced to ask the merchant why the parrots were not willing to fly away like normal birds.

The merchant laughed and replied that the parrots were not making any attempt to fly away because they had been trained to believe that the perches provided safety and security for them. The birds acted as though the perches offered them maximum security and wrapped their claws tightly around them. Even when the parrots were not pleased with their situation, they still confined themselves to the perches as though they had forgotten how to fly. The old woman further enquired whether there was any peculiar circumstance which could compel the parrots to loosen their grip on the perches. She was informed that the only circumstance where the birds loosened their grip on the perches was when the birds were forcefully pulled off the perches and compelled to fly. Older parrots usually found it difficult to release their claws from the perches than the young ones.

Does this story make any meaning to you at all? Yes, it should and if not, read it again and again and try to picture the avian characters there in the tale and whether their fears remind you of anything in our human realm. The truth is that many of us today are like these parrots. We have conditioned ourselves to stick to a paid job as if our success were dependent on it. We lack the courage and enthusiasm to blaze a trail. Our employers are like the parrot merchant. They have trained us to believe that we cannot be successful in life except we remain on the job. They entice us with all kind of things to make us remain on the job for the rest of our lives. Some employers even advertise job security as a strategy to attract the best talents in the labour market, thereby depriving the employee of the right to use their own initiatives to create wealth and enjoy financial freedom. The perches, on the other hand, signify the paid job or the monthly salary which none of us is ready to give up. We have been taught to clutch to the job as if we had forgotten that God did not create anyone to serve others forever.

Sometimes we force ourselves to accept whatever condition employers give to us even if it amounts to losing our freedom. In the process, some of us give up our dreams and trade-off that precious talent for an amount that does not guarantee lasting financial freedom. I did not realise how much harm I was doing myself some years back when I was looking for a job that could offer me job security to my late fifties until I saw how some of my successful mentors traded off job security for self-enterprising.

For instance, during the last Sallah holidays, I paid a visit to one of my mentors who happens to be a very successful entrepreneur in the country today. I was privileged to hear him describe how he started his business some years back. He explained how miserable he was living in the 1990s as a salary earner, even in an executive capacity in one of the big banks. He also explained that though job security was the biggest reason why some of them accepted to work in any organisation during their time, however, he was not interested in the concept as this had misled many employees to put all their hopes and future aspiration on their employers without having any alternative plan in place.

While narrating this to me, my mentor mentioned how many of his friends were investing in cars, regular holidays abroad, expensive rented apartments, and other affluence at the expense of their future. On the other hand, he was investing his little savings on what he described as Option B. To him, this was the greatest decision he had ever taken in his life which had assisted him not only in realizing his dream of becoming a millionaire but also build a lasting wealth to offer his children a lifetime financial freedom.

Dear friend, it is no longer a joke that seeking job security is out of fashion. It also obvious that many more jobs will be lost in the face of the current reforms being embarked upon by the government. Does it sound like fallacy? No – it is a fact that is clear to many of us but we seem to be running away from it. For instance, just last year, a statutory corporation laid-off about 2,355 employees. Public and private companies are worse when it comes to downsizing. The most interesting part of the fact is that job cuts have become a global problem with Europe, America, Asia and many other industrialised nations of the word, recording unprecedented growth of unemployment. Rather than making the experience of job loss a nightmare, we can turn to a moment of joy and harvest. Now is the appropriate time to start sowing so that we can harvest later on when we are finally pushed out of the job by any circumstances.

I know many people have been thinking about it, but thinking is not enough. We have to take action, stop procrastination, and let us think together how we can turn the crisis into wealth. A problem without an action plan becomes more complex. Your Option B may be your only friend during a financial crisis, especially when your first layer of income has failed. Having Option B does not necessarily mean you have to resign from your current job. You could be managing it through a proxy and allow it grow until when you can sufficiently provide you adequate income. Right now many people can no longer survive with one layer of income. Building a reliable Option B affords you the opportunity to have multiple streams of income. From my experience, not many Option B strategies require so much capital to start with. What we need to start with could be those resources and time we are wasting away now, and you do not even need to cheat on your employer to achieve this.

If you think you have no capital to start, you can start building it up now but learn how to start small. Also, note that in business, it is not all the time that cash capital is necessary. The human capital which is your skill and attitude could be great capital to start with. Please do not be left out. Many people have realised the need to keep their Option B alive. Where you do not know how and where to begin your Option B; you should discuss your plans with your colleagues at work, friends, and wife. You can also attend a workshop where things like that are being discussed. Anytime and any day, keep your Option B alive. It is the best insurance, your best friend and the most secure hope in the period of crisis. Are you thinking about financial freedom, or job security, then keep Option B alive. Help this country to build more millionaires by telling your friends to keep their dream and Option B alive.

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