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Success comes from understanding and applying seven essential qualities to achieve a goal. The problem however is that just because you or your team possesses all seven qualities does not necessarily mean you will be successful. Many talented and experienced people are searching for work as a result of macro trends affecting us all, none of which are new. The reductions in the discrete or processing manufacturing industry has been particularly painful, from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Carolina’s to the suburbs of Detroit, where some 67 % of furniture workers and tens of thousands in the automotive industry have been forced to leave long careers due also in part to global pressures from India or China. What can all these people do? What are the large social impacts to our society?
A recent article in the New York Times does an excellent job of summarizing the situation and I thank one of our listeners for pointing this out (see The New York Times, www.NYTimes.com July 31st, 2006, Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job). This is no small problem and of course it affects not just men but women as well. According to The New York Times, 13% of American men between 30 and 55 – the prime of their lives – have dropped out of regular work. This is up from 5% and it is not an American issue, it is a global one. Around the world in industrialized societies, this global issue has surfaced in places like the European Union, where the non-workers has grown to 14% from 7% and Japan where it has grown to 8 percent, from 4 percent.
We’re not talking people that have no talent here. I remember taking a taxi ride in a foreign country last spring and as is my custom, I love to chat with the drivers to get the heartbeat of the country. This gentleman was very well dressed, articulate and clearly well educated. It turns out he was a retired 747 pilot! Shocked, I asked him why he was driving a taxi. He replied that he was retrenched and although he had 20 years of service his particular employer didn’t provide any pension and the lump sum ran out a couple years back. He is not alone; I get emails and calls from friends all over the country almost every day with the same story and it bothers me.
We’re not just experiencing heat waves from California to New York, we’re experiencing a wave of reduced confidence and self esteem. This middle aged employment issue will significantly impact the nation’s tax base, health care, social security, and national savings rates. All these things are going to adversely impact the stock market and determine the outcome of the next few general elections.
The Employment Dilemma
I will not rehash what we have previously discussed in prior shows and articles, but I will summarize the root cause - technology. The world now buys, rents, borrows whatever it can from anywhere in the world where it makes the most economic sense. Resistance is futile (read and listen to The Meltdown of Time and Space, July 29th). We cannot solve and should not solve these issues by erecting fences or regulations that restrict the free flow of goods and services via the internet or of from places like Mexico, India or China. Such barriers are artificial and temporary. If we create artificial barriers we will be digging a deeper hole.
American’s Are Ingenious and Adaptive People
The greatest thing about Americans, universally admired around the world, is our ability to solve problems and create new value. We are the most creative, flexible and adaptive group of people on the face of the planet thanks to our diversity and because we don’t resist change – we drive, lead and embrace change! Everyone knows about American ingenuity and resourcefulness. Everyone knows about American perseverance and persistence. I’m talking about Americans here, not America or America’s government. Don’t confuse people with government, there is a big difference.
Lesson number one in this crisis in personal confidence and self esteem – don’t rely on Uncle Sam to solve this problem. You’ve got to pull yourself up with your own bootstraps. Let’s get started.
Step One: Stop Looking for that Old Job - The Changing Definitions of Work, Jobs and Companies
Not only is that old job gone, but the definition of a company and its organization structure has disappeared as well. (Tune in for more on August 12th with Chris Meyer and read last weeks article, Meltdown of Time and Space). There is no such thing as a phone company anymore. There is no such thing as American Automotive dominance or even made in America. Even if it says made in America, I’ll bet that the wood, paper, plastic, oil, or casing was made somewhere else and it was just assembled, printed or bundled here. And that is okay. The point is that in the new connected economy instead of thinking about a job title consider how you add unique value.
Everyone, every single person on this planet has a unique set of abilities and attributes that make them special. I call that their Essence ®. Success has many definitions but no matter which you choose success comes from understanding and applying your Essence® in a particular environment, or your realms of existence.
The person who used to be a lawyer was suited to that calling because their Essence® was writing or negotiating. The man who is now a taxi driver who before was an airline pilot, his Essence® was navigating and transporting people. He shifted the domain, or realm of using his Essence® from the air to the land. The man featured in The New York Times story, was a steelworker, but it appears from the story that he is a serious pianist and vociferous reader, researcher and writer.
Step Two – Discover your Essence®
The principle and theory of the 7 Rings of Power™ is simple. It is based on my lifetime of employment and what I discovered that worked for me. The first step is to pinpoint your natural abilities. Strip out the job title, pay grade and whatever the heck society calls you because who you are is most of the time not what you do. Go back and evaluate what gives you joy or pleasure. What is it that you dreamed about as a kid that makes you full of energy and passion? It’s simple to say, but hard to do. For me, my Essence® is talking and sharing knowledge. I love to do research and analyze issues and share the lesson I have learned. Does that make me a teacher? I also love to make a difference. I cannot sit still when I see a problem and I have an idea on how to solve it. Does that make me a consultant? It did in my prior job. Now I’m out of the corporate world and I really like trying to help other people. Does that make me a counselor or executive coach? Wrap all that together and I guess I am a consulting - teacher – counselor who likes to help people. Just call me JD, it’s easier. It’s what I think that matters not the label others put on me. I don’t know what you call what I do, an essence accelerator? Does anyone have a job title or open position for that? This all leads me to step two.
Step Three - Redefine Success
In a changing world, you have to change yourself and part of that means redefining what success means. Success might have meant a salary, office, and job title. Not anymore. Success might simply be doing something that adds enough value to you and your family to provide a secure home and lifestyle. I cannot tell you how to define success, but I can define what it is not. Success does not mean you have to have a job, or be fully employed, retired, married, wealthy, or powerful. Those words are at best someone else’s definition and at worst, antiquated or useless terms. What matters is that you don’t allow others to label you with one that no longer fits your situation or needs.
Step Four - Focus on Satisfaction
Applying your mental qualities, your Essence® in an environment or realm can result in success, and hence gratification, but gratification is far different than satisfaction. Gratification is short term and feeds the mind or the body. Gratifying experiences come from the attainment of materialistic objects, greater power and more money, promotions and expanded control, and yes, even sexual fulfillment. But satisfaction is long term and it arrives when a person achieves a goal that fills a higher purpose: building a family, helping the community, or providing services that aid humanity. Being satisfied requires one to believe in something bigger than oneself, which requires confidence. Why? Ask yourself this; can you be truly satisfied if you are full of fear, doubt or mistrust? No. Confidence is being free from these pains and having faith, it is a prerequisite to satisfaction. So if you want to be successful and feel more satisfied, you have to cast away any fear, doubt, and restore your confidence and find faith. Then do something that serves a greater calling or higher purpose.
Do’s and Don’ts Check List
There are many books on the topic of what to do, but I would just like to bullet out a few do’s and don’ts: