Robert Fogel has some deep insight into values in modern western society – particularly as they relate to the world of work and the implications these shifts have for employers
In this BOSS interview he argues that today’s workers value their time more than money. Fogel describes how industrialisation in agriculture is the source of today’s affluence. In the US in the 1850s, he points out that it took four people on the land to support one person living in a city. Today, the figures are reversed across the western world. Globally about 45% of the population is urbanised.
The same trend is evident in personal income. Whereas in the early 1800s the vast majority of personal income was required just to provide daily food, we now have relatively enormous disposable income.
The final part of this trend is time. With increased affluence we can afford to spend much more on health care. We live longer and now need to spend no more than about half of our lives in paid work to provide all our needs. This leads to a far greater proportion of our time spent both in leisure and contemplation of our purpose in life.
Fogel draws the implication that employers can no longer rely on undivided loyalty created by necessity to work and work will have to fit much more into employees’ purpose.
As you may have gathered, chriscurnow.com is re-reading Synchronicity at the moment. I read something this morning that reminded me of the poem Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson (quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech.)
So much of our work lives are driven by fear. We don’t speak up because we are afraid of the consequences. We don’t apply for that job or seek an interview with that person because we are afraid of their reaction. We work hard and long because it is easier than doing the more important things. We look for prestige in expensive cars or high powered jobs because we are afraid that no-one will notice us.
What would it be like to let go of that fear and be free of it? To discover our higher purpose and become single mindedly focussed on striving towards that purpose? To find that we are indeed powerful? To find that each of us has an important role in shaping the future?
A colleague and I are currently planning a forum for leaders. At our most recent
planning session, my colleague brought along her copy of Synchronicty. A book I love but had allowed
to slip to the back of my mind. I had lent my copy to a friend so hadn’t read
it for a while. My thirst for this book was so rekindled, that I went out and
bought another copy. (I decided to make a gift of the copy I had lent.)
The last chapter is one of the most moving pieces of writing I have in my collection.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I re-read it in a cafe yesterday.
The chapter describes a meeting organised by Peter
Senge and others at Bretton Woods,
New Hampshire, USA. It was a "three-day gathering of about 350 people who
had been actively engaged in creating learning organizations and communities.
The intent of the gathering … was to engage in deep conversation about what
had been learned so far."
The location for the conference was highly significant. The Mount Washington
Hotel, was the site of the 1944
International Monetary Conference which set the parameters for postwar monetary
stability required for reconstruction. In 1994 it was also the site of amazing
scenes as deep conversations became the source of powerful events in the lives
of those present.
chriscurnow.com believes that deep conversations always lead to powerful changes.
We invite you to seek out opportunities for deep converstation and look to how
you will help to form the future.
chriscurnow.com this week finally got around to opening his copy of BRW’s Young Rich issue. In many ways it’s hard going. Lots of thirty year-olds giving the secrets of their “success”. As if these 30 y.o.’s know what “success” is. As if any of us really know what “success” is.
Regardless of all my uncertainties and insecurities around success, I am certain it has nothing to do with simply getting a lot of money – especially when the “money” is only paper share value. Perhaps running a business that builds wealth and services for a great number of people may help develop wisdom. That sounds as though it might be on the path to success.
Given my reticence to read this issue, I was at least refreshed to read Hugh Joffe’s article The young and the relentless (subscription required sorry).
I’ve always wondered why we glorify rich people so much. Apart from wanting to emulate them ourselves, Joffe points out that the rest of us benefit (in jobs and our own wealth) from the entrepreneur. However
Sadly, some make themselves and their families unhappy while they produce many benefits for the rest of us.
Further to the point
“…those who have [wealth] can seem brash and imnipotent, believing that ordinary rules of conduct do not apply to them. It is as if destiny has provided them with special powers, allowing them to be immune form any form of censure… These attitudes can foster insincere ways of relating and therefore too many wealthy young people have developed a lack of personal meaning (my emphasis)
I wonder what seeds we are sowing in our society by pushing our children from the youngest ages to strive for “success”.
I can’t do better than Joffe in finishing with a quote from Neil Simon: “Money brings some happiness. But after a certain point, it just brings more money.”
I have just added Death Sentence by Don Watson, to the Bookshelf.