What do Wayne Rooney, Whatsapp, Eminem and Counselling all have in common?


Does societies “Have it Now” culture create anxieties?

Wayne Rooney signs a £300K a week contract.

Facebook buy Whatsapp for £16 Billion.

Satya Nadella Takes over Microsoft aged just 46.

The common theme is that these stories and the way they’re reported can make people think that they just happen to those involved almost out of the blue. What’s more if we could just have the piece of luck that they had we could find ourselves in such a privileged position.

Eminem raps “If you had just one shot and one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment would you capture it or just let it slip”

To anyone casually listening he suggests that the opportunity will just present itself in a moment and it is up to us whether we have the courage to take it, all sounds very exciting really. For me it conjures up the image of Rocky walking into the ring, no experience as a professional boxer but just because he takes his moment he is victorious (well actually he gets a draw but let’s not split hairs.)

How often though does the moment actually present itself to people where they can achieve all they’ve ever wanted in a split second. I can’t think of an occasion I’ve ever heard of because although you can point to a number of single moments that have been the fulfilment of a dream, Usain Bolt winning the 100 metres in such glorious fashion for instance, the truth is that those magical moments are the sum total of years of blood, sweat and tears.

Hard work for success

The moment masks the pain, sacrifices and determination the individual has been through in order to achieve their goal and that’s what I think’s missing when people are encouraged to believe that they can get everything they want largely through being in the right place at the right time.

Wayne Rooney is another good example. Now don’t get me wrong I’m no fan of football’s inflated wages and I’m not going to discuss the rights and wrongs of how much they earn but unless you are a real fan and choose to look into the matter further you won’t be aware of quite how much determination and work it takes to make it to the very top level in the professional game. These players casually running out for their team on a Saturday afternoon have, in most cases, dedicated their whole lives to getting to that position.

I know if you had asked me to put in that amount of work when I was younger, giving up the fun times and sacrificing the nights out with friends so that I was ready for training the next day I would be very unlikely to have taken you up on the offer. If you want to achieve that magical £300K a week moment that is what it will take though, a lifetime of single mindedness.

If I’m right and popular culture is encouraging this belief in immediate gratification, and I rather suspect I am, how unfair is it on the young people in our society who are growing up being drip fed this idea and not the truth about quite how much hard graft they will have to put in if they want to achieve their goals.

Dreams take hard work

One thing’s for certain, when they realise that it isn’t true it will be a hard lesson and if they haven’t been taught how to achieve things off their own back by parents, teachers etc. then will they be able to learn the skill for themselves later in life. I for one believe (or hope) they can but I think it would be a lot easier on them if we made a bit more of the hard work it’s taken for people to achieve their dreams than of the accomplishment itself.

Rates of anxiety and depression are currently increasing significantly in teenagers throughout the Western World and although I don’t suggest it is the cause per se I can’t help but wonder if the lack of structure to their future is in some way playing a part. Our parents and grandparents knew that in order to have the future they wanted they would have to work long and hard to achieve it. That fact hasn’t changed, today’s young people will probably have to put in double the effort in their lifetime but what has changed is that popular culture keeps “telling” them that somehow there is a chance that it will just all drop into their lap. I am sure the vast majority don’t actually fall into the trap of believing it but a percentage will and for the rest the constant drip feed into their unconscious mind can’t be helpful.

Bona fide counselling qualifications take years to attain and I have first hand experience as to how much hard work it takes to achieve your goals. There are however companies out there advertising courses in the public domain suggesting that for a comparatively small fee and 12 weeks of your time (2 hours a week I may add) you can gain the knowledge and experience necessary to work with people that may be in extreme turmoil or potentially even pose a risk to themselves. They even advertise the idea that complete their course and you will be earning £45+ an hour.

Forgetting the fact that it is a ludicrous claim, the idea that there are people signing up to these courses is just another example of people grasping for the fast solution and instant (ish) gratification. They believe that something worth having both in terms of the help it can provide to others and the career it can lead to for the individual is easily achievable without much work.

Do I blame the people signing up for the courses, not really, I am sure there are examples across many professions of the same thing. It is society in general that I think is at fault for allowing this notion that things that in reality take real dedication and a great deal of hard work to achieve can be realised through short cuts and without much effort.

Where did this all start, well I can only go back a few decades so admit my experience is limited as to how it was before but I think alongside Reality Television (what a strange term when you consider how unreal it actually is) the lottery plays a reasonable part.

Instant Gratification

Like most people I’ve daydreamed about the “Big One”, the day I win that jackpot and can live free of financial worries. In fact that life changing win has become such a part of our national psyche that barely a day goes by without me hearing someone say “when I win the lottery”.

In reality of course the chances are some 14 million to 1, probably about the same as my son signing for Manchester United or me writing the next big rap song!

Maybe with this in mind teaching our young people that hard work and dedication is by far the best route to fulfilling their dreams and ambitions would be a much safer bet for their future.


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