Much has been said about the recession. I like most Americans have been affected by the change in the financial climate. Post being laid off at a company after 11 years of successful performance, I managed to keep up with all of my bills for almost a year by way of six months of unemployment checks and officiating every basketball game available to me in the states of Illinois and Missouri. I mean I had to hustle and make it happen. Eventually some things fell off and I had to make some major decision in terms of starting over. But I’m not discouraged.
If anything, what I am most encouraged about is the confirmation of what I already knew in the first place. That now more than ever the best thing one can do in terms of securing activity and opportunities in the future is to find out what his/her dream is and to do it. There is no getting around it. For decades now the direction and growth of big business has influenced people to get on board their trains. If the industry was saying that there would be more positions available in information technology for instance, people would flock towards learning those skills to try to get a spot. The name of the game was getting hooked up with one of these companies so one could gain a steady flow of income, job security and some benefits. It made sense in terms of primal survival. But at the same time, it was a Trojan horse in reality because as we can see now that regardless of the qualifications there are a lot more people than positions available within the job market. If you managed to get in someplace and obtained the right stock options like those people from Microsoft for instance, then you got over. But if you are sitting there with a degree or skill set that there is not a demand for, you’re starting all over again.
When Barack Obama became president, he sent the word out that as Americans we needed to step our games up. And I believe that wholeheartedly. I mean let’s be honest. As the leading nation of the free world we became arrogant, fat, and overloaded on self indulgent pleasure. Too many of us only cared about getting more stuff. And that only last for so long. Real living is solving problems and overcoming challenges. Real living is touching lives and helping others. Pleasure seeking is a solo project and the benefits are only material. What made Americans and America great was the belief in ideals, the innovation of imagination and the culture of creativity. Sadly we lost all of that keeping up with the Jones’ and following a cookie cutter method of career focus. I believe as a nation we have to get back to our core creative values – and fast!
This is not to say that there is not a place for big business. If it were not for big business, I would not have access to a computer or enjoy some of life’s conveniences like my IPOD. Financial institutions, car companies etc. are functional towards a vibrant economic society in that sense. There will always be a certain amount of positions needed for such companies. What I am saying however, is that you may be a Boomer or close and your dad worked for GM for 30 years and put you through college. Great! But those days are over. Historically we had a recession and then a renaissance. That renaissance consisted of invention and ingenuity. We created things, built things, and use those ideas to create opportunities for others. We sang, danced, wrote poetry, acted and played music. We delved into the creativity within our imaginations and created work that is lasting till this day. This is what it’s going to take to trigger resurgence into our psyche first which will in turn positively uplift the economy.
This is precisely the way I raise my children to think. I have a son who created his own comic strip. He’s been working on it for as long as I remember. I have boxes of them stored away while he works on new story and character developments. He does it strictly for the love of the comic and doesn’t get a dime for his work. Do you think I’m sitting there telling him that he should only focus on his formal education at school, go to college and get a business degree so he can be marketable? Heck no! I tell him that his stories are wonderful. (And they are. He has a real mind for fantasy… and I know there is a market for fantasy.) I tell him how I see his characters and offer encouragement and ideas. He knows full and well how much I value his formal education. He knows that settling for anything less than his best efforts in school is cheating himself and that I would not approve of wasting such opportunities. He may even get a business degree one day in order to learn something about marketing his product. But the issue is working the system to benefit his dreams. Not bowing to the system and aborting them.
My other son wanted to be an actor. I showed him movies of the best actors so he could understand the technique of being a believable actor. I encouraged him to do the Shakespeare that was being performed in school. Now he’s into the guitar and it seems to really spark his interest. From what I have heard so far he has an ear for music. Well while demanding that his formal education is valued, because it’s part of the basics of functioning, I encourage him to value and respect the instrument and to give it all he’s got. Who says he can’t be as successful as any of the other guitarist I love listening to now. Why not? No way would I encourage him to try to fit into a box of a corporate structure that could out source his job to India before he even gets it.
The point here is not to hate on any career choice. The point is that we should be happy. We should be striving to better our lives and not depend on the government or any corporation to fund our primal comforts. Instead, we should do what it takes to create something from within that in itself is useful and marketable thereby giving us power and jurisdiction over the very thing we create. If you write and own the rights of a million dollar song, then you benefit most every time the song is played or purchased.
Just the same if you are good at financial planning, selling, etc., If you absolutely love stock portfolios or customer service, then by all means do that with all of your heart and I honestly believe that there will be a place for you because you will be so good at it, there will be a demand for your passion and work ethic.
I could say a lot more about this. For myself, I know that writing is one of my areas of passion. So is mentoring youth. I got into sports officiating because it got me closer to kids and activities that they care about. I knew I could make a difference. Most of the time I also get paid to do it too which helps to supplement my income. The next thing for me in giving back is coaching. I had a great conversation with a coach whom I respect greatly over the weekend. And though he lives several hours drive away from me, we are going to spend some time together just to discuss that very thing. Because I want to be great at it for the kids I am privileged to inspire.
I blog for the love of writing. Certainly most of us don’t get paid to do it. But every time I put words down, it sharpens my ability; I give back to anyone who cares to read, especially a piece like this. And who knows someone may see something I write and decide that they want to pay for my takes. I have other irons in the fire as well. I work in the corporate world to do what I have to do. I provide excellent service and earn my way with the blessings of The Creator. Equally, my mind and heart are fully engaged working towards living my dreams 24-7. And it’s never too late. Someone told me recently she is going to get her law degree. She is in her mid 30s. She thought M.B.A., but greatly desires law. Her father convinced her to go with her passion damn the trends. This is what I call living.
If we are working or serving in an area of passion and skill, if we are willing to learn from others and be a blessing, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet, make the right connections and be a success. Included within that success are the monetary benefits. There is always a market for creativity, passion, enthusiasm, and a sure work ethic. The universe will always make room for those operating within the character of imagination and excellence. The universe never lays off. It moves and adjust to the places where there are needs and resources, and where opportunities lie in wait.