The Middle-Class Is Not What We Are Losing!
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 symptoms rather than the truth. But, for those of us who do tasks for a living, we either need to reinvent ourselves or become mired in a problem that appears to be unfixable.
Task-based work comes from a history that didn’t give us much on the topic of personal change. But today, tasks are being taken over by software and technology, as quickly as humanly possible. Even though we are the authors, history didn’t much prepare the human race to an exponential acceleration of change.
Prior to the industrial revolution, change happened at a glacial pace. We could visit a village in 100 A.D. and return two thousand years later only to find that very little had changed. But, when we invented mass manufacturing, the world went through a 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 also 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 mastered the completion of an acceptable number of tasks 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. Task work is driven by logic, which typically occupied our left brains. Logic is all about numbers, critical thinking, black & white. Unfortunately, those of us who lived in our left-brains have had great difficulty perceiving the rest of our brains. Isn’t it ironic that in order to partner with the industrial revolution many of us had to become machines ourselves?
The challenge was outlined 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, possibly because their parents did the same. Mr. Pink pointed out that the growing work includes creativity, design, communications, influencing others, building relationships, engaging, consultative sales, strategy, and more. His book was published 12 years ago.
In my new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution, I talk about how global engagement figures of 13% represent more than 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 leads directly to the real scourge of our modern economy: underemployment. How of our best and brightest task workers are now part-time and less time task workers?
Our political leaders do a great disservice by promising jobs from the past. At the very time where we need leaders who tell our citizens to stop waiting and begin the process of reinvention, to elicit new discoveries and to pursue active learning, we patronize the underemployed by looking to the past. This freakish behavior is perpetuated by all political parties and is simply a reflection of what so many people want to hear. That dynamic, my friends, represents a crisis.
If the work that you do is centered on tasks, here are a few suggestions:
- Recognize that technology offers freedom. What do you most want to accomplish with that freedom?
- Use your available time to prepare for a new and more interesting life.
- Invest in books about successful change, coaches with a track record in this field, and building the life skills that make your more successful.
- Ask people who are succeeding with change to mentor you.
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, innovations that cure cancer, develop green energy, and make high-quality education available without charge, a slew of 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 set of skills. As the speed of change increases, skills 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 with building new support systems. I am proposing something more mindful and visionary 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.
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
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If you would like to discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes Here.