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Sunday, 14 August 2011

You’re Entitled to What? Take Personal Responsibility!

The turmoil and tumult of the past week led me to recall the experiences of my grandfather who, in the 1870s, was sent by his parents to England from Poland, at the age of 10, to escape the prevailing persecution.

Unescorted and unable to speak English, he travelled by cart, train and eventually a ship, with a label attached to his coat bearing an address in Manchester where some relations lived, having come to England a few years before.

Miraculously, he arrived safely, survived and made a new life in this country.  When I knew him, he was a voracious reader, had taught himself English as well as Hebrew, Latin and Greek, and was making a somewhat tenuous living as a tailor.

In all his 80-odd years he paid his taxes, never asked the state for anything and, indeed, never expected anything.  He was an intensely fulfilled individual who had survived through his own efforts and had made a happy life in this country, having married and raised a family of five children.

A recent broadcast by a “community” leader complained that the state was not helping them and that they needed more assistance.  My grandfather would have been totally bemused by this; what can the state do to help people if they don’t make an effort to help themselves first?

If we consider the situation in business, much the same criteria apply.  To employ people who spend their time whingeing and moaning, constantly complaining and in “something needs to done about it” mode, is depressing and corrosive for other members of staff.

We need to give our people the freedom to express themselves, to encourage initiative and decision making and to ensure that if anything goes awry, then it is looked upon as a learning experience not a case for reprimand.

As the Prime Minister, David Cameron said in the wake of the troubles this week, we must get away from the “it’s my right” syndrome and encourage the “it’s my responsibility” approach.

I am absolutely at one with him there.

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