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By David Harder on October, 8, 2017

Conquering Change – How to lead rather than follow a rapidly accelerating world

We live in tumultuous times. The industrial revolution is being replaced so quickly that few people have adequately defined “what’s next.” But the prelude to change is already in front of us. Simply play out the impact of 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Virtual Reality, and Information Filtering and we see more change in the next ten years than the last fifty years combined. New technology offers all of us new freedoms but the old work world didn’t condition us to use freedom to our advantage.


In the recent world of work, changing ourselves wasn’t that necessary. It was unusual for someone to develop the very skills that support personal reinvention and growth. As a result, a big portion of our national workforce is out-of-sync with change. For example, a recent New York Time’s survey indicates that 48% of America’s workers view themselves as “underemployed.” These individuals are getting less out of life because they believe they cannot change, or they would like to change but can’t catch-up, or they would like to change but don’t know how.


As a child of the human potential movement, I witnessed many people coming to name brand seminars to work on their love life, their work life, or both. We gave people a new set of beliefs that usually led to an altered state of awareness. From that place, participants made new decisions and often took positive action, which was the point. However, the way we dealt with their work life was to push this idea of “making a difference.” People would stand up and declare they were going the “heal the rainforest” or “build a new school system.” But, the practical application of these new visions eluded them. It became clear to me that adopting someone else’s superior belief systems was the problem when it comes to work. People are motivated by their own truth. People don’t want to identify their potential, they want to realize that potential. Socratic curriculum accomplishes something far more sustainable and actionable. When we help people organize their own truth into a mission, a business, a job and/or a culture, they own it and they go do it. When we help someone craft their true purpose and help them define a practical and right-sized solution to succeeding, the lives improve. Invariably, their answer is connected to their own definition of doing what they love.


Doing what we love and thriving requires a whole new way of living as well as adopting behaviors and skills that simply were not part of the industrial revolution. It has been said, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Today, the differences between having an engaged career or an engaged workplace are being swept away.


Let’s examine a few of the new success behaviors:


Skilled Self-Inquiry

Socrates believed that everyone comes to his or her own truth when we ask them the right questions. Self-inquiry, the act of defining and organizing our own truth, is far more important in a world of accelerating change. Ironically, getting people to sit down and engage in self-exploration is often met with, “I’m too busy.” As a culture, we spend so little time exploring our truth with any skill, that we commonly believe there is no there-there. I cannot count the number of participants who came into our program placing bets they would be the one person who wouldn’t emerge with a clear and compelling purpose in life only to be surprised by how quickly all of it came together by simply answering questions.


The answers are always within us.


Today, if we want to be more successful with a rapidly changing landscape, we really must radically change ourselves. In a world where the average college graduate will change career four to six times, personalized mission, vision, and purpose is not only necessary for personal and organizational engagement, it is what gets us through difficulty. Think of it as a keel that keeps the boat upright at all times. Without that clear sense of purpose, people often just quit what they are doing. In a world where frenzy is the new norm, skilled self-inquiry becomes even more critical.


I am not about to disclose 48 proprietary questions here. But, here is the flavor of the kind of self-inquiry I’m proposing:


  • What would my life look like if I was happy all of the time?
  • Where have I outgrown the work that I am doing and how can that growth be applied in compelling new ways?
  • What kinds of skills do I need to develop to have the life that I want?
  • What kinds of support do I need to have the life that I want?


Active Learning

The only way to stay ahead of change is to be aware of what’s coming. If everyone has unlimited access to information, success is rewarded to the individuals who are most aware. Active learners are quickly taking ownership of the modern workplace. They stay abreast of innovation. They understand how to move forward. They get clues on what is most important to learn and above all, they grow. Growth is the payoff for those of us who celebrate the modern workplace. Sure, technology is taking a wide variety of jobs away. But, the work options that are already emerging are far more interesting and exciting. Technology also offers us freedom. Many of our graduates launch successful businesses for the first time. Technology allows them to become entrepreneurs with far less capital and with quicker start-up times. New jobs often introduce freedoms we could not have imagined twenty years ago. Today, there is nothing surprising or unusual in working with a senior executive from their home or to assemble an extraordinary team with members from all over the world. Active learning gives us the insights in how to use change for our advantage and it also gives us the insight in where and how to get reeducated to become more valuable and more pleased with our professional lives.


Courage Skills

When we launched in 1990, it was clear that if someone wanted to design a unique professional life, that person would need certain life skills to succeed. This was the barrier of entry for work that matched an individual’s unique career DNA. Armed with a compelling personal mission, participants became far more interested in developing these skills. So much has changed! Today, it doesn’t really matter if someone loves their work or is just looking for a job, change happens so quickly that all of these skills are necessary. We have also found they are necessary for an engaged workforce. There has never been a time in history where our well-being is based on our ability to connect with others. For many, learning and developing these skills requires a dose of courage to get started.



When we had jobs for life, we didn’t need skills such as selling, influencing, building communities and developing effective support systems. But in this new world, our abilities to connect, present, communicate and bond determine whether we are succeeding. Those of us who paid little attention to these skills will probably be uncomfortable with the process of learning and using them. But, anyone who wants to have a secure future must build these skills no matter the pathway ahead. Selling one’s value is part of it. But, it is even more important to be able to ask stakeholders, clients, and prospects the kinds of questions that give us insight regarding their needs and expectations.


Support Systems

Many people don’t pursue what they really want because they believe, on some level, the right people will not come along and help them. Once we do define what we really want, our success is purely built on the quality of help that we get. Learning how to build a community that supports someone’s unique mission, vision, and purpose can be one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. Savvy workers and skilled leaders recognize that all success is derived by finding the right mentors, partners, coaches, learning experiences, and resources. It is one good move to ask for help. It is another to become skilled in identifying, recruiting, and managing support.



In summary, the road ahead is a bright one. If your role in the new world of work is unclear, get help. Get educated. The most common reason people fail? Isolation

Brought to you by David Harder – Founder & President, Inspired Work, Inc.

(C) Copyright, 2017, David Harder – (All Rights Reserved)

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