Alan Donegan: PopUp Business School Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Financially Independent Pizza Lover, Marvel Movie fan and soon to be Script Writer
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It's all made up, all of it is made up!
It's all made up! All of it...….
I have been inspired to write this post because there are some rules that need to be broken, there are things that people do that need to be stood up to and there are principles that need to be defended. This post is inspired by a silly argument I am having with the facilities management company that we pay to maintain our block of flats and look after everything, but there is a key principle for life in here.
What I really want to talk to you about is standing up to businesses, standing up to the rules and even standing up to the people that enforce the rules. If you think you are right, if you think something is morally wrong then it is your duty to stand up to it, no matter who or what it is.
I have had doctors tell me not to be silly when I have come to their office with an injury and send me away without helping me, I have had judges quote the law in court to me and get it completely wrong and I have had all sorts of people try to take advantage of me. Just because someone has a position of power doesn't mean they get it right every time.
Let's start with the silly example, before we go onto the serious one......
The case of the stolen Marvel house mat
Last week I came home to my flat and our mat was missing from outside. It is a cool Marvel mat based on the recent movie Infinity War that I loved. Katie bought me the mat for Christmas this year, I have only had it for about a month!
I went down to the building care taker and he said that one of the other staff was on the war path that day and had decided that the mat was a health and safety risk and she had taken it and it may either be in the cupboard or she may have got rid of it!!! This made me ANGRY!
Firstly a house mat outside my flat door is not a risk. We have lived here 7 years and no one has tripped over the mat! This is health and safety gone mad!
Secondly what gives you the right to take my property without asking. And then to destroy it? That is theft.
This is something where the management company thinks they are doing the right thing and as they think they are in a position of power they can do anything they want. This is a principle. They haven't discussed it with me, they haven't shown me a risk assessment they have just stolen my house mat and told me about if afterwards.
People shouldn't be allowed to get away with this stuff, so I have written to the CEO, I have written to their customer service and press people, I have called them and I have given them till Monday to get back to me or I am calling the police to get my stolen mat back! I am pissed!
Standing up for principles
Now this is a stupid argument but there is a principle behind it. you can't just take another persons property without asking.
If I let this slide what else are they going to start doing?
Let's look at another example. A rather painful one for me.
You probably know the story about my dad and the debt (he ran up £3.6 million in debts and then legged it with another woman) the only thing the debt was secured against was the family home that my brother, mum and I lived in.
The bank came for the debt but after a long, long time. They took us to court for possession of the house and we had to present our arguments as to why they should not get the house and get to kick us out.
Our main argument relied on the statute of limitations and a few other points. This particular area of law says that there is a certain amount of time which if elapsed, you can not still take someone to court over an issue or debt. I bought this point up to the judge whilst we were in court.
The judge looked me square in the eyes and said that the statue of limitations did not apply to our debt. He then ruled against us. I was in shock. As my mother cried and sobbed, we processed what had just happened and I got so angry. I knew the law did apply but what power did I have in the moment? I argued but it got us no where and we were sent from the court room with a month to vacate the property. I knew the judge was wrong.
Someone in a position of power and with our lives in their hands looked me straight in the eye and bullshitted me about the law. He lied. He thought he was right and was not willing to be challenged.
Should I let it go? Should I let the judge get away with it? Technically he is deciding on the law and I should deal with it? Should I let him take our family home away from us?
Standing up to the law
This experience of a judge in Basingstoke court taking away our house over a point of law he didn't even understand really got to me and has shaped some of the man I have become today.
I didn't take it laying down. I went away, I researched the law, I called every lawyer I could find to get the free consultations and I learned about the law. I knew I was right but I needed the proof. We didn't have the money for solicitors so all the work had to be done by me and that pain of the first court appearance had given me the energy to defeat them.
So I filled an appeal and I went back to court. The full story is for another day but I got that decision overturned and stood up to the bullshit from that judge. It took me 3 years to overcome that and challenge it but I was not going to let it go. It was a principle.
People are fallible
People are fallible. We don't always get it right. Judges, doctors, me, we all make mistakes and get things wrong and it takes someone else to challenge us and stand up to that.
It is up to you to stand up for what is right and challenge people.
No one ever said "no" to my Dad and I think that was part of his down fall. We all need people to challenge us, to challenge our thinking and to help us get things right. Who is going to challenge the judges, doctors, businesses that just seem to think they can get away with anything...…….
I am not always right and I know I get it wrong occasionally, if there is a sound argument I am willing to change my mind.
If I believe I am right with every fibre of my body then I will fight and stand up for my rights and for those of the people around me.
Why am I writing this article?
Because I want to you to stand up, I want you to speak up and I want to you to challenge if things aren't right.
If you don't agree with a fine, if you don't agree with a rule, if you don't agree with another person then you need to stand up and be counted and make your voice heard. That is how we improve the world we live in, by speaking up and debating key points.
I have had so many people tell me what is right and wrong and what can and can't be done. If I had agreed with these people I wouldn't have kept my mum in a family home, I wouldn't be walking properly (this is a story for another day) and I wouldn't have got to where I am today.
It might just be a house mat but it is the Christmas present my wife gave me and if you take it that is theft. It is not the mat it is the principle I will stand up for. I don't care who you are you can't get away with that...………..
Stand up for what you believe in, challenge other people and don't just accept what people tell you as the truth
Thursday 7th of February 2019 Update