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By David Harder on June, 19, 2017

The Disappearance of The Middle Class?

What we have is the disappearance of task workers.

This basic seismic shift is so frightening that many are doing what humans do. We point towards the symptom rather than the truth. Task based work is progressively becoming economically unsustainable. For those of us who do tasks, if we have not yet learned how to change our lives, this problem appears to be unfixable.

We come from a history that didn’t give us much on the topic of personal change.

Prior to the industrial revolution, change happened at a glacial pace. When we invented mass manufacturing, the world went through one revolutionary change that lasted for three hundred years. The kind of anger and political unrest that we witness today has a great deal of similarity to what happened three hundred years ago. Back then, the industrial revolution handed out pink slips to virtually everyone who worked. But, work didn’t stop, it moved. This is what we are witnessing today.

For three hundred years we built a solid middle-class out of task work. The middle-class filled out quotas, stood in assembly lines, finished tax returns, smiled and answered phones. Some became good task masters which led to mid-management roles. Now, we are having to make fundamental shifts that require new skills, wakefulness, and a change of heart. Because task work is being replaced by software and technology in bigger and bigger waves. What, pray tell, is left behind?

Today, most task work is driven by logic, which typically requires working from our left brains. Logic is all about numbers, critical thinking, black & white. Those of us who live in our left-brains have great difficulty perceiving right-brain work. Also, if we have been up to our ears in tasks, we might be a little bit numb.

In Daniel Pink’s seminal book, A Whole New Mind, he predicted that as we offload task-driven work to software and technology, new work would emerge. But it would be centered in the right-brain. At first, some of this work would be dismissed by left-brain workers. For example, right-brain work includes creativity, design, communications, influencing others, building relationships, engaging, consultative sales, strategy, among others, alot of stuff our parents warned us not to do.

In my new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution, I talk about how global engagement figures of 13% are not just a business problem, disengagement is a tragedy infecting our lives, families, customer satisfaction and day-to-day living. The great disengagement of the modern worker is leading directly to the scourge of our modern economy: underemployment. How many bright task workers are now part-time task workers, “consultants,” or individuals working way below the previous station in life? You probably know several and yes they are members of the “disappearing” middle-class.

Our political leaders do a great disservice by promising jobs and patronizing the underemployed by looking to the past. The middle-class is not being destroyed by the one percent. Task workers, unwilling to reinvent, are being eaten alive by resignation and aimlessness.

If the work that you do is centered on tasks, use your time to prepare for a new life right away.

If you have already been impacted by the elimination of task-work, consider the following:

A Change of Heart

Recognize that pursuing more task-driven work will result in more failure. Make the decision to set aside cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, resignation and frenzy as ways to block and forget this basic truth. Develop the willingness to invest in a new life.

Recognize that behind every epic change that eliminates old jobs, new opportunities appear. For example, 3-D printing will wipe out assembly lines and portions of shipping, distribution, & warehousing. It will also produce a whole new class of entrepreneurs who manufacture goods, products, even art from their homes and offices. Artificial Intelligence will wipe out a whole slew of jobs. But it will introduce millions of new ones. For example, when we cure cancer and make high-quality education available without charge, entire new careers will emerge. In fact, easily a third of the jobs we will have in ten years have yet to be invented.

Learn “The Courage Skills”

Moving from the old to the new world requires that we learn a new skillsets. As the speed of change increases, skills that we used to dismiss become vitally important. These can include the ability to draw attention to oneself, to sell, present, and to influence others. We will need to become adept in building effective support systems and communities that back our mission, vision and purpose. I am proposing something more mindful than “networking.” These are not soft skills. What a dismissive phrase! They are courage skills and we need to learn to use them with confidence and with a certain boldness.

Constant Learning & Growth

Active learners own the new world of work. In the years ahead, change will only grow more exponential. For those of us who simply react to change with anger, the future will be quite painful. For those of us who take the initiative to grow, the near future is already showing that we can create untold abundance, wealth, and freedom. The information is already available. It sprouts fresh and new every day. The more that we learn to learn, the easier it becomes because information allows us to make use of change to improve our lives, circumstances and the world around us. But, like a distance runner, we can’t get there if we walk one mile a month.

What is in the way? Fear and Numbness.

The average American watches four hours of Television and five hours using “devices.” We consume 152 pounds of sugar per year, use 80% of the world’s legal and illegal drugs, and have become masterful in checking out from these frightening changes rather than dealing with them head-on.

If you relate to any of us (and I believe we all do), invest time in learning how to change. If you are mastering or have mastered this new game, help inspire others to do the same.

Quite frankly, I want to live in a world where people are doing what they love, using technology to be even more successful and free, and solving the big problems in front of us.

Suggested Reading:

A Whole New Mind, Why right-brainers will own the future – Daniel Pink -(Riverhead Books) Order Here

The Inevitable, Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future – Kevin Kelly – (Viking Press) Order Here

The Workplace Engagement Solution, Find a common mission, vision, and purpose with all of today’s employees – David Harder – Career Press Order Here

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

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