November 21, 2008
It's a new work world - and an opportunity
Q: People are comparing our economic crisis to the Great Depression. I find myself worrying about everything at work. How bad do you think it's going to get in our workplaces?
A: As a result of the economic challenges that surround us globally, nationally and at work, two new insights are crashing like tsunamis into our awareness (and it's too late to head for the high ground of unconsciousness).
First, we cannot continue to live a financial fantasy about our lifestyles. We will actually have to live within our means.
Second, we will have to give up the notion of being employees, and will have to become entrepreneurs instead. Workplaces can no longer promise security.
Most of us have been dimly aware of both of these insights for some time. Our current crisis is just putting us in touch with a reality that we've refused to see because it wasn't convenient.
The human species is not wired to love change. Often when reality has shifted around us, we cling tightly to the past and play a game of "tell me it ain't so." It is only when reality comes crashing in that we become resilient, grieve what we previously believed and adapt.
Change is in the air in and out of our workplaces. We face great opportunities and great challenges. As a nation we have always excelled at creative problem-solving, and these times will demand no less.
If you don't let fear paralyze you, then you'll be available to see how the changes happening right now can actually benefit your career. If you are morbidly watching the stock market thinking about joining a soup line, you'll miss these same opportunities.
There are two types of problems at work: the kind you can control and the kind you are powerless to prevent. If our global economic system collapses, then the only people who will be prepared are the people who have been living on compounds waiting for the End of Times. However, the more likely scenario is we will go through a reality check, learn from our mistakes, and have a chance to rebuild our finances on a wiser foundation.
My hope is that we respond by becoming more willing to face reality, less liable to be seduced by our fantasies and more interested in what is than in what should be. If so, history may record 2008 not as the Great Depression but as the Great Awakening.
The last word(s)
Q: My co-workers tell me I'm defensive. Don't you need to explain your point of view?
A: Yes, but only when people are listening — and no one listens when you are defending yourself.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author. She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube
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