In July I traveled to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, birthplace of our independence. Given the number of unemployed in this country, the state of our economy and the struggles so many are enduring, I thought a lot about independence and the devastation of losing it. For those currently out of work or trapped in jobs they hate, living the American Dream isn’t looking quite as promising as it once did.  The Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Chasing the American Dream is ingrained in our culture where freedom implies the promise of prosperity and success. After all, the USA is the Land of Opportunity.

Surprise! The venue has drastically changed.  Jobs are scarce, promises have been broken and rewards are gone. Workers are learning that employers can no longer “take care of them.” Despite doing what they are told, putting heart, soul and overtime into their work, they face the reduction and loss of benefits and jobs replaced by outsourced workers, machines and systems (many offshore). In many cases longtime employers have simply gone out of business. No one is getting what they deserve.  Those who can are hanging on ‘just to have a job.’  Where’s the independence in that?  Where is the pursuit of happiness in one’s livelihood when the dependent take-care-of-you bargain is gone?  It was no bargain to begin with.

Seth Godin, in his book, Linchpin:  

“The system we grew up with is based on a simple formula: Do your job. Show up. Work hard. Listen to the boss. Stick it out. Be part of the system. You’ll be rewarded.  That’s the scam. Strong words, but true. You’ve been scammed. You traded years of your life to be part of a giant con in which you are most definitely not the winner. If you’ve been playing that game, it’s no wonder you’re frustrated. That game is over. There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do….

If you want a job where you are treated as indispensable, given massive amounts of responsibility and freedom, expected to expend emotional labor, and rewarded for being a human, not a cog in a machine, then please don’t work hard to fit into the square peg job you found on Craigslist…..

If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job. This is the one and only decision you get to make. You get to choose.  You can work for a company that wants indispensable people, or you can work for a company that works to avoid them.”

Godin describes the old American Dream as:

  • Keep your head down
  • Follow instructions
  • Show up on time
  • Work hard
  • Suck it up

The NEW American Dream, he says, “the one that markets around the world are embracing as fast as they can is this:

  • Be remarkable
  • Be generous
  • Create art
  • Make judgment calls
  • Connect people and ideas

…and we will have no choice but to reward you….the competitive advantage the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected, and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as (he)/she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion.

All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available you.”

Here are the KEYS to independence and the NEW American Dream.  Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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