Saturday, 11 April 2009

Unemployment and underemployment: how your beliefs can render you blind and helpless

The current employment situation is worse and better than you think. Help from outside is not coming to save the day and this is hard to accept for all of us. On the other hand, we can improve our personal situation enormously if we open our eyes to our own possibilities.

Waking up can be difficult when so many things conspire to keep us asleep. The whole media spectrum seems to be occupied full-time at reminding us, the audience, how powerless we are, how dependent on the kindness of strangers.

The sweet message is repeated over and over: “If you keep searching, you will ultimately get what you want.”
  • Someone will discover your hidden potential and offer you a great job.
  • One day, you will find a perfect employer and he will guarantee you a bright future.
  • Your employer's priority is to provide you with attention, direction, and motivation.
  • Learn the rules and hierarchies, keep your nose to the grindstone, and you'll do well.
How long does it take for individuals to realize that there is something wrong with those beliefs? The chosen few who are born as relentless entrepreneurs realize by their sixteenth birthday that progress is faster when you change lines. For the rest of us, it can take decades to perceive inconsistencies in the theory and to develop courage to look for better answers in reality.

As it happens in most cases, a mistaken formulation of the question is to blame for our inability to come up with a workable response. Our inherited beliefs about jobs and careers make us blind to facts. Our conditioned expectations render us helpless in the face of change, downturns, and corporate downsizing.

Our view of History lies at the root of our misconceptions about employment. Our culture sees jobs as the natural, universal, primary economic relation between human beings. Nowadays, that idea has become so prevalent that is never questioned and we have come to regard it as self-evident. That idea, I submit, is false.

In fact, viewing a job as the natural human condition is a recent phenomenon. Considering employment as the standard, universal way of life is an invention of 19th century economists, a false theory which contradicts all evidence about the past.

The truth is that, for the greatest part of History, free humans have not interacted with each other as employer and employee, but as independent traders, exchanging products and services for mutual convenience.

Translated in modern terms, this means that the natural, primary economic relations in society are the exchanges between entrepreneurs, self-employed artisans, professionals, builders, small-business owners, and their customers.

Beware of borrowed job and career dreams that might keep you forever chasing a mirage in desert sands. A man is never more hopelessly lost than when he is holding the wrong map in his hands.

Rethinking the world as a marketplace for skills and products is a major intellectual undertaking, a heart-aching experience that can prove as painful as losing the faith in a false religion.

Truth is, nonetheless, as essential as clean air. The hours that you invest in realigning your beliefs with reality might add years of success and happiness to your life.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by 96dpi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Unemployment and underemployment: how your beliefs can render you blind and helpless

The current employment situation is worse and better than you think. Help from outside is not coming to save the day and this is hard to accept for all of us. On the other hand, we can improve our personal situation enormously if we open our eyes to our own possibilities.

Waking up can be difficult when so many things conspire to keep us asleep. The whole media spectrum seems to be occupied full-time at reminding us, the audience, how powerless we are, how dependent on the kindness of strangers.

The sweet message is repeated over and over: “If you keep searching, you will ultimately get what you want.”
  • Someone will discover your hidden potential and offer you a great job.
  • One day, you will find a perfect employer and he will guarantee you a bright future.
  • Your employer's priority is to provide you with attention, direction, and motivation.
  • Learn the rules and hierarchies, keep your nose to the grindstone, and you'll do well.
How long does it take for individuals to realize that there is something wrong with those beliefs? The chosen few who are born as relentless entrepreneurs realize by their sixteenth birthday that progress is faster when you change lines. For the rest of us, it can take decades to perceive inconsistencies in the theory and to develop courage to look for better answers in reality.

As it happens in most cases, a mistaken formulation of the question is to blame for our inability to come up with a workable response. Our inherited beliefs about jobs and careers make us blind to facts. Our conditioned expectations render us helpless in the face of change, downturns, and corporate downsizing.

Our view of History lies at the root of our misconceptions about employment. Our culture sees jobs as the natural, universal, primary economic relation between human beings. Nowadays, that idea has become so prevalent that is never questioned and we have come to regard it as self-evident. That idea, I submit, is false.

In fact, viewing a job as the natural human condition is a recent phenomenon. Considering employment as the standard, universal way of life is an invention of 19th century economists, a false theory which contradicts all evidence about the past.

The truth is that, for the greatest part of History, free humans have not interacted with each other as employer and employee, but as independent traders, exchanging products and services for mutual convenience.

Translated in modern terms, this means that the natural, primary economic relations in society are the exchanges between entrepreneurs, self-employed artisans, professionals, builders, small-business owners, and their customers.

Beware of borrowed job and career dreams that might keep you forever chasing a mirage in desert sands. A man is never more hopelessly lost than when he is holding the wrong map in his hands.

Rethinking the world as a marketplace for skills and products is a major intellectual undertaking, a heart-aching experience that can prove as painful as losing the faith in a false religion.

Truth is, nonetheless, as essential as clean air. The hours that you invest in realigning your beliefs with reality might add years of success and happiness to your life.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by 96dpi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

People to ditch, things to dump, and races that you shouldn't run

Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up, trained, and drilled to view approval as a requisite of survival.

The problem is that proper human life is hardly possible without frequent dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the total knowledge available in any market at any given time. Remember also that the total amount of available knowledge increases by the hour. In addition, for every product or service, there are hundreds of different geographical markets in various languages.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of entrepreneurship. Knowledge and opportunity are spread without apparent order in any market. We should also not forget a hidden factor that adds complexity to this equation: each of us actually possesses much more knowledge than we are aware of.

In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our conviction that we are choosing the right path. Then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights about why and what for.

Entrepreneurs are so used to thinking creatively that they are often puzzled when they encounter people who are psychologically immobilized. “Why don't you try again?” entrepreneurs tell us. “Why don't you cut your losses and start something else? Why on earth don't you quit playing any sport whose rules make it impossible for you to win?”

The determining factor here is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects both the ignorant and the educated, the young and the experienced.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?
  • From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.
  • From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.
  • From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.
A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to eliminate all that doesn't pay, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Spigoo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

People to ditch, things to dump, and races that you shouldn't run

Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up, trained, and drilled to view approval as a requisite of survival.

The problem is that proper human life is hardly possible without frequent dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the total knowledge available in any market at any given time. Remember also that the total amount of available knowledge increases by the hour. In addition, for every product or service, there are hundreds of different geographical markets in various languages.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of entrepreneurship. Knowledge and opportunity are spread without apparent order in any market. We should also not forget a hidden factor that adds complexity to this equation: each of us actually possesses much more knowledge than we are aware of.

In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our conviction that we are choosing the right path. Then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights about why and what for.

Entrepreneurs are so used to thinking creatively that they are often puzzled when they encounter people who are psychologically immobilized. “Why don't you try again?” entrepreneurs tell us. “Why don't you cut your losses and start something else? Why on earth don't you quit playing any sport whose rules make it impossible for you to win?”

The determining factor here is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects both the ignorant and the educated, the young and the experienced.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?
  • From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.
  • From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.
  • From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.
A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to eliminate all that doesn't pay, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Spigoo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]