I have a growing sense of discomfort about the stream of messages that portray the most un-American of all traits:
I don’t know about you, but the notion that we can’t change the world is killing us.
In 2012, a young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and gunned down 28 people. Twenty of them were children between the ages of 6 & 7. That night, President Barack Obama addressed a nation and wept. But unfortunately, the event turned the year into a record with 16 mass shootings and 88 deaths.
Last week, we reached a new milestone. In the first five and a half months of 2022, 198 mass shootings have taken the lives of men, women, children, parents, friends, workers, ministers, doctors, neighbors, teachers, cashiers, artists, security officers, policemen, and women. My mind skipped back to the 80s and 90s when AIDS took thousands of lives from the creative community, and I wondered aghast what the world has lost from people who will not have the time to realize their potential and give us their gifts.
Yesterday, I asked someone to review the article before we published it. Then, I ran an errand. In the car, I thought about the law of exponential growth. Who could have imagined this much bloodshed before summer? At the rate we are going, armed militias will be roaming our neighborhoods in another ten years, and we’re the ones selling the Girl Scout Cookies.
Driving through town, I thought of a client meeting with a brilliant, dignified, black executive and entrepreneur. We were in her beautiful home, and her teenage son and daughter stopped before leaving for a game. As they walked out, I saw an expression flash across her face. It was fear.
“What was that?” I asked.
“I have invested all my love and energy in making sure they are well educated, kind, polite, interested, and caring people. But every time they walk out that door, I know they might not come back just because of their skin color.”
Of course, the news of Uvalde, Texas, greeted me at the office. When asked if we ought to wait a few days before publishing this article, I snapped, “For who? The bystanders?”
Life is sacred, or it isn’t. I didn’t know what that meant until an event three years ago. We had an unpleasant neighbor who took advantage of others and burned bridges without a thought. One night we heard horrific screaming and ran out the door to find her son beating her to death. We fought him for over 40 minutes, dodging a weapon and blood everywhere, and not one person came to help us. She had to be revived three times in the ambulance and stayed in the hospital for almost two months. People, even the neighbors, called us heroes. We didn’t relate to that term at all. But one night, a friend said, “Life is sacred, and the two of you performed a sacred act.”
When life is sacred, we have no other choice.
When did we trade in our feelings? For comfort?
Was it during a decade that murdered JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther Kind, and Bobby Kennedy? Was it a President led out of office in disgrace? Maybe it happened on 9/11 when thousands of people had the world come down on their heads. Perhaps it was 2008 when the world of tasks cracked while we were distracted with survival.
Thirty years ago, I wrote one program that changed thousands of people’s lives. I designed it to move people past the mediocre construct of work during the Industrial Revolution. We helped people turn their work into a vital and successful relationship. My work attracted people I never dreamed I could help or call colleagues.
But it wasn’t enough.
Outside of our little world, the United States had a growing crisis. As we began entering the most significant restructuring of work in history, about half of our workers were struggling with underemployment. They barely get by, and most are too frenzied making ends meet to understand how to make the future work for them.
Four years ago, Donald Trump celebrated a 3.8% unemployment rate. Two weeks ago, the Biden administration posted the same number!
Today, many of our country’s workers and employers are neglected by promise politics. Focus groups form messages to get our votes. Someone wins, a few promises are kept, but most are forgotten. Then, our political leaders return to fighting each other and raising money for their next campaign.
A year ago, we began a reinvention process of taking the learning and development programs we used to sell to the highest bidders, transforming our solutions for work on a digital platform. Our memberships are free. There have been days when this new direction feels like lunacy. Fortunately, I’ve steered quite a few clients through a similar experience.
We are standing at a turning point. As task work is cast aside by technology, much of the same technology gives us the freedom to work where and when we want. But it is also allowing us to do the same work that many of our parents told us not to do!
In a nutshell, the new work is about solving problems or creating beauty.
I’m sure cynicism and contempt impact some of you as you read this message. But before destroying that opportunity to change, go online and look at what is being funded by the largest and most respected equity investment firms.
What does this message have to do with mass shootings? Or killer heat waves, a school system that prepares our kids for the Industrial Revolution, lying as sport, war crimes, racism, equal pay, healthcare, kindness, vision, purpose, meaning, compassion, empathy, and Freedom?
Once again, the question is, is life sacred?
If the answer is “yes,” please pick a problem you want to solve or the form of beauty you want to add to our world.
Yogi Barra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
He meant that there are times in our lives when any action at all is preferable to doing nothing. Yes, it is hard. We live in overwhelming times. Futurist Alvin Toffler predicted that by the end of the 20th-century, the change would start accelerating and paralyze many. But staying home and thinking about our problems only manages to make us sick.
There are enough problems for all of us. Perhaps it is time to pick the one closest to your heart. Solve that, and if problem-solving isn’t your thing, there are infinite ways to add beauty to our world.
That is our future.
This will be the one article I devote to this ongoing nightmare. If one person wakes up and commits to solving a problem, the effort is well worth it.
What I will be giving you are insights we’ve gained in how to best support our children in having a bright professional future.