When he and my mum were a young, poor couple, my dad had the idea of starting up his own taxi business. Armed with only his car and ten pounds loaned from the only non-dissenting voice around him, my mum’s sister, he left his safe job as a mechanic at a local garage and set about realising his dream.
Through hard work and determination, his business turned out successful, so much so that a few years later decided to sell it and buy a pub. Again the nay-sayers warned him against the venture. “A pub will never work”, they said. “You’ve bought a dive that deserves only knocking down”, they said. “Stay with the taxi business”, they said.
My dad saw it differently though. What he had was good, but what he saw on the horizon was better. Once more, through hard work and determination, he got his pub, which flourished. His second leap of faith succeeded.
Fast forward a good few years and here was me, working as an electrician, jumping employers depending on where the work was, in Aberdeen. I noticed that as I moved from company to company, the customers I was doing work for seemed to be following me. This revelation made me decide to get my own van and start up on my own. Most people thought I was bananas, telling me I should be thankful to be working for somebody else, that I should stay where I am, letting my employer take all the responsibilities of running a business, while I took my weekly wage and holidays. The company was looking after me and for that I should be grateful.
My boss wasn’t too pleased, when I eventually told him what I was about to do. He offered me a pay rise and other potential perks to make me stay. I think all he could actually see was work, money and a decent employee disappearing before his eyes, to the apparent detriment of his own company.
I took that leap of faith anyway and now, almost ten years later, although I’m not rolling in cash, I make a decent enough living out of my wee business. I have a lifestyle I enjoy and am on the whole happier as a result. Some parts of self-employment have been hard, there is and have been challenges, but I face them head-on and invariably learn and turn out better for the experience.
My previous employers are all still in business, apparently none of them any the worse off for me not working there any more.
It just took that initial leap in the dark. I think this could probably be said for the majority of people who decide to start up on their own. Those who have a dream and the determination and work ethic to go with it.
I view the opportunity being presented to Scotland for independence in the same way. I see Westminster as the big employer, unhappy at seeing a good, honest, hard worker about to leave on a leap of faith in order to shape their own destiny. I see Scotland as that employee, sensing an opportunity to spread their wings, in order to create a brighter, more fulfilling future.
I remember the feelings I had when I got in my van that first morning working for myself, the excitement, the trepidation, but above all a steely determination to prove the doubters wrong. I felt galvanised and grabbed the bull by the horns, relishing the forthcoming challenge with gusto.
I think that gaining independence would awaken the same spirit among the Scottish people. I think we would have something to prove, something to get our teeth into, something to be proud of again, to regain our sense of worth.
An opportunity awaits us, to work together and reshape our wonderful country into the place we know, deep down, it can be.
All we need now is that leap of faith. Faith in ourselves.