Lots of money and stuff, the sign of a high achiever?

Lots of money and stuff, the sign of a high achiever?

Shouldn’t the Prime Ministers critics admit that they really hate anyone who has a hint of wealth in their life? If we don’t challenge these critics we risk having a house of commons which is stuffed full of low achievers, who hate enterprise, hate people who look after their own family, and know absolutely nothing about the outside world

This is a statement made during a house of commons debate by Sir Alan Duncan, who has claimed in the past that MP’s effectively live on rations and are treated like shit – For the benefit of any readers Sir Alan gets paid £74,962 a year, plus the ability to claim for a expenses for transport, and a furnished flat in London. He was also forced to repay £5000 in 2009 for claiming expenses to renovate his garden.  To put that in perspective, the average wage in the UK is £21,000 a year.

I take real issue with this statement, of course there have been oppositional backlashes, he has been forced to issue a pathetic apology and this has already produced an aggressive debate on the definition of achievement; but even with this statement stuffed behind the greasy curtain of Tory political discourse, the fact remains that not only do Tory voters believe in this definition of success and achievement, the very structure of our society is moving in this cold, pitiless direction.

Whilst I was teaching in a secondary school, covering a range of subjects and different abilities, I took great fulfillment from working with children with behavioral issues or special needs. They carried me through every day, my life had some form of meaning and this led me to believe that teaching full-time should be my career. However with many friends,  about 75%  had gone into teaching and dropped out, or at least considered other career options. I was told repeatedly to try other careers first, to understand that teaching was a fraught profession struggling to cope with ever growing pressure of increased class sizes, endless paperwork, and receding wage levels.

I left to Australia to travel, play some rugby, and eventually try some other work. After one enjoyable party at the top floor of an apartment block In the centre of Sydney, I asked the hosts – who were the same age, with the same level of qualifications – “what jobs have led you to this amazing apartment and lifestyle?”, “Recruitment Consultant” they replied. This became an ultimate goal for me, surely a profession matching people to jobs would be fun, ethical and ultimately financially rewarding.

I first became a Career and Education consultant, a deceiving and pretentious job title, I basically sold highly expensive government diplomas in a telesales call centre. Unfortunately I happened to be quite successful, I was consistently hitting near the top of sales every month, I was quickly promoted to Team Leader, and even managed my own office after 5 months. I earnt enough money to rent a dreamlike studio in the centre of Sydney, in a big complex with built in swimming pool and gym, right next to Darling Habour. For all intents and purposes, under Sir Alan Duncan’s definition, I was, or at least on my way, to being “successful”

However I started realizing that a lot of the data gained to make phone calls, came from job applications to our sister recruitment company, who were creating fake jobs. Some of the people who I signed onto course’s, which would cost them $18,000 in the long run, were long term un-employed and desperate for anything in their life to change. Not that I realized at the time, they were a number on a board, they were the sale I achieved that I could smile about, as the directors treated the staff and I to free boozy boat rides round Darling Harbour on weekends.

Upon the revelation that I was in a soulless sales company with unquestionably disgusting sales tactics, I managed to build my sales rep enough to get into recruitment – I was advised that I needed to talk about two things for the interview, how driven I was, and how much money I wanted to make.
So I told them of the sports car I wanted (I can’t even drive), I told them of the houses I wanted to buy, the dream of an Armani suit (quite happy with Matalan) the sales I wanted to make so I could go on the company incentive trips to the Alps or Las Vegas ( all paid for), and I managed to gain employment with the recruitment company.

Now surely this couldn’t be as bad as sales, surely my last sales gig was an anomaly, private business can’t all be an unscrupulous, unsympathetic rat race in a consumeristic culture? I was proved wrong. Upon starting the indoctrination to change my character began, I was treated to luxury meals by the company, I was provided by free alcohol every Friday night in the city’s finest bars. Sounds great right? Well maybe if I was a promiscuous 16 year old again. My co-workers discussed money, everything they wanted to buy, how much they earnt, and if you were lucky something about football (I don’t even like football, but it was a nice change)

So the culture was superficial, staff lacked any depth to their personalities, but I still wanted to make money, I still wanted to be “successful” I wanted to make my family proud, and I had a point to prove to my all the doubters in life, so I persisted. My role was to ring as many specialists that had a CV or resume on our computer system as possible, I had to convince them that I had a job lined up for them ( I didn’t) and then ask them were else they applied for, and if they had any interviews. I would use this information and contact the managers of the jobs they had applied for, and try to sell them new candidates. This disingenuous tactic is called “Information Trading”  and was eventually the reason I left, to some extent I enjoyed the nice suits, the luxury, the idea of an opulent future, I just couldn’t become passionate about lying 8 hours straight every day.

I left my nice flat in Darling Harbour, I’m back living with my parents in England, and I’m developing educational programs for Autistic children, for about 4 times less then what I was earning, and I finish every day with a great sense of fulfilment. And my future in this profession won’t lead me to making millions of pounds; in fact the glass ceiling tends to be below Sir Alan Duncan’s wage of 75k a year, that’s if the Tories don’t continue the trend on downgrading my profession.

My point is not to demean salesmen, recruitment consultants, or any other private business. If you want to make money, then go ahead and make money, just don’t value yourselves above people who earn significantly less.

If I end my life without multiple houses, without that convertible BMW, without ever owning a Armani suit, and I’ve managed to build confidence, self-esteem and happiness into children’s lives, I will be successful – and people who agree with  arrogant prats like Sir Alan Duncan won’t take that away from me.