If you have been reading this blog for a while now you would know how, all along, I haven’t been very much in favour about supporting the argument of the digital / generations divide or the distinction of various different generations at work, whether baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers or whatever else. However, and with that said, I do realise how each and everyone of those generations do really bring up a tremendous amount of diversity into the workplace with their own habits and unique mindset which, back in the day, I described as different working styles in place and that for the corporate world to benefit from those different ways of getting the work done, businesses would need to do, if anything, a single thing to make it all work: embrace them and celebrate such wonderful diversity, more than anything else because that’s what makes working in a now more complex than ever environment quite an exciting and unprecedented adventure for learning and growth to flourish.
And with that premise I thought for today I would go ahead and share a rather short (10 minute long) video clip that I bumped into in my good friend Felix Escribano‘s Google Plus stream that I thought would be worth while sharing across over here to demonstrate how those various different working styles have been operating over the course of the last few decades till today.
The actual video clip is based on a piece of research from the smart folks from Box1824 and it’s packed up with lots of useful information on behavioural data, trends, ways of living / working from those various different generations and it’s perhaps one of the most insightful documentaries I may have seen in a while that clearly describes, and rather accurately, I must admit, too, who we are, regardless of age, work context, ambitions, motivations, mantras, aspirations and so forth. If you are working in a corporate environment where you are exposed to all of these various different working styles, I can certainly recommend you take a look into it so that you have got a good chance to be exposed to the diversity of what’s behind each and everyone of those generations. It will be worth it the 10 minutes it lasts, so here is the embedded code so that you can start playing it right away:
What do you think? Not too bad, eh? Did it help change your perception of those colleagues from those generations you work with on a daily basis? Here’s the key question though: how identified do you feel with your own so-called generation? Did it represent you well enough or can we then stick around with those working styles that I mentioned above? Either way, while I would love to read in the comments what you would think, here’s the one liner that describes how I feel about that argument of the digital divide and the various different generations at the workplace:
“It really seems to be more important to have fun on the ride, than to make it to the final destination”
Or this other one as well for that matter:
“It’s all about exchanging knowledge, no matter your age”
Or perhaps this other one, much more impactful altogether:
“Besides having a job, it’s becoming more important to have a purpose that can be carried out in different forms at the same time”
Or, finally, the kicker:
“It is about living better in the present, with no illusion that the future can be controlled”
Followed, perhaps, by the one and only question that every single knowledge worker out there should be asking themselves every day as soon as you get up in the morning and while you get ready to go to work:
“Are you doing what you love right now? No?
In the past, you may well remember how I have been putting together a good number of blog posts on a topic that I have grown to become rather interested in, and very fond of, over the course of time around the Circular Economy. You know, that kind of economic shift towards sustainable growth for everyone, even planet Earth. Well, it looks like there is a new one out there that I got introduced to, just recently, thanks to a Google Plus post by Luis Alberola referencing the excellent work from Charles Eisenstein and his rather intriguing book “Sacred Economics“. Of course, I’m talking about The Gift Economy.
There is a lot of really good, well written, spoken, and inspiring literature around the topic of the Gift Economy. But perhaps the one that I have found the most transformational one is that one from Charles himself where he keeps talking about it in his new book Sacred Economics. This book, indeed, does look a little bit out of the ordinary, specially, when you go into the Web site and you find this rather uncompromising quote:
“In keeping with one of the main themes of the book, Charles has made the full text of the book available online as a gift. Click on the links below and enjoy. If you feel moved to send Charles a return gift, you may do so below“
Of course, as intrigued as one can be, I decided to spend about 12 minutes on watching through the promotional video clip that was put together by director Ian MacKenzie and I doubt there would be anything more inspiring that you may have watched this week, perhaps this month, or, maybe, even, this year. What an absolute delight you will be embarking on if you start watching it. As a teaser, it kicks off with this absolutely stunning, and worth while living for, quote:
“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back” – Edo
Needless to say, that I would strongly encourage you all to watch further along the video, so that you can see what are some of the main key statements that Charles himself postulates not only on the video clip itself, but on the book as well. Topics like ancient gift economies, modern capitalism, the role of money on how it’s contributed, tremendously, towards “alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth“. How money is just an agreement; how it just doesn’t have any value per se; and how scarcity is built into the money system, just as much as our traditional concept of growth.
How our very own separate selfs have contributed into building a hostile environment for us as a species, in constant conflict with nature, with ourselves, with schooling (learning), with life and how we are already embarked on a ruthless self-destructive path difficult to revert back from. And in that context that’s where that gift economy kicks in. “We didn’t earn air, we didn’t earn being born, we didn’t earn our conception, we didn’t earn a planet that could provide food, we didn’t earn the sun” is just another superb quote that finishes with a rather mind-blowing affirmation: Inborn gratitude, where life is a gift and the natural response to giving / receiving a gift is gratitude. Naturally. The one we show every day.
According to Charles, in a gift society, if you have got more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it. That’s what gives you status, a stronger sense of security. If you build up all of that gratitude people are going to take care of you, too. If there are no gifts there is no community and therefore societies become monetised. Eventually, according to him, we just can’t have community as an add-on to a monetised society. We actually have to have a need for each other, which surely makes perfect sense from the perspective of how we, after all, are social animals, with a strong sense of caring and belonging to the group. Regardless.
His description on the video about The Shift and what it would entail is just priceless altogether on its own, finishing up with a quote that I thought was worth while mentioning over here as well, since I have mentioned it a couple of times already myself on where we are at the moment: ”It’s going to be up to us, to determine at what point this wake-up plan would happen“. Remember, Awakening 2.0? Just brilliant!
Charles’ closing remarks from the video clip itself though are even much more profound ones on what’s needed to revert the tide, to aim at that significant change of how we do things, who we are as human beings, as community, and what we should be focusing on:
“[…] We have been messing around, playing with our gifts of technology and culture. And developing these gifts. Now we are coming into adulthood. And it’s time to apply them to our true purpose. At the beginning, […] it’ll be about healing the damage that’s has been done. […] We are in the business of creating miracle around Earth. […] It’s necessary. Anything even less than that is not even worth trying”
The interesting thing though is that for all of that to happen, for that shift to take place, and the sooner, most probably, the better, we may well need the current economic system to collapse and fail, big time, as my good friend, Dave Pollard, hinted out on a superb blog post under the title “Moving from Understanding and Protest to Direct Action“, where he reviewed the book and he concluded:
“If we are hugely fortunate, when the industrial growth system starts to fly apart and collapse through its own unsustainable failings (a process that’s well underway for all the attempts to cover it up), some collective of smart, generous, articulate people might start to put some of Eisenstein’s ideas to a real-life test. But I wouldn’t count on it. When things start to collapse, panic, denial, blame-seeking and reactionary thinking are more likely human responses“
Probably, but, on the other hand, recent signals are starting to come out and tell us otherwise, and with various multiple flavors that are starting to become rather difficult to hide away from the common public, regardless of what mainstream media, governments or whatever other public / privates entities are trying to portrait further. A couple of them have actually become my true favorites, mainly, because they have started to show what that Gift Economy would look like in the real, and, specially, in the context of the current financial econoclypse that we are going through over here in Europe, by demonstrating that, if there is a way, we can make it. It may take some time, it may take plenty of good effort, energy, and passion, but if there is a way that we can show and demonstrate caring and sharing for one another, specially in times of need, and I mean, serious need, we will eventually find it, embrace it, apply it. Live it.
Yes, indeed! Welcome to the Gift Economy! Where sustainable and profitable growth for everyone, including planet Earth, is now finally becoming a reality. Our communal reality. And where businesses take a new meaning in life by co-sharing that responsibility with the community to do things right and where money may no longer be the only ruling principle in town. Exciting times, my dear friends. Indeed, very exciting times …
Have a good one everyone!
[Oh, and in case you are wondering, here's how the gift economy would work… Charles' book on Sacred Economics can be read entirely online for free, but I felt so inspired watching through the video, learning tons along the way, getting really excited about it, that I just purchased a copy of the book for my Kindle, as a token of gratitude for the inspiration. It *does* work!]
I really like Inc. I mean, I really heart it. I discovered it by pure chance a few weeks back and I am now completely hooked up to it, mostly not only because of the top quality articles, publications, videos, etc. etc. they keep putting up on their Web site, but also because of how helpful it’s proving to be as an essential resource “to help entrepreneurs and business leaders succeed“. Seriously, if you are looking for topnotch quality content that could very well help you redesign the workplace of the future look no further than those folks. They are doing an outstanding piece of work so far! Ohhh and talking about the workplace of the future, how about if today we spend a few minutes talking about redefining that space embracing over 100 years of research, instead of ignoring it like we have done in the last few years. Ready? Well, here it comes: Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week.
Seriously, it’s not helping you become better at what you already do, and, definitely, it’s harming more than you would know, and realise about, and not only your own work, your colleagues’, your customers but, eventually, your business itself in the long run. That is, indeed, the rather thought-provoking premise from a recent Inc. article put together by Geoffrey James under the title: Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week which comes out in a rather timeline manner, since I, too, recently blogged about this very same topic under “40-Hour Work Week – The Magic of Sustainable Growth“.
I am not sure what you folks would think, but I’m starting to find it a rather fascinating topic, that is, how we actually manage work, without trumping our personal lives at the same time. When we all know, giving the current financial turmoil, how more and more is being asked from knowledge workers nowadays, i.e. work longer hours, while on the road, while at your home office where telecommuting is no longer there, therefore you have a couple of extra hours you could make use of, while on vacation, etc. etc. or at a time where we see how pervasive work has become with the emergence of social technologies, but, mostly, also, because of the huge impact on the corporate world by mobile altogether. Yes, it’s expected that we should be putting longer hours on what we are working on; it’s expected that if we don’t do that we are slacking off; it’s assumed that if you don’t work those longer hours, you just basically don’t have enough work, which is, obviously, not seen as a positive outcome, as a knowledge worker. Essentially, it’s just like we can no longer have an excuse not to put longer hours at work, for free, and not only our very own managers would be frowning upon us, but even our very own colleagues, too!
Yes, I know, I can sense all of you out there nodding away in violent agreement with that scenario. But how wrong is it? I mean, there used to be a time when we all used to think that those who remain behind at the traditional office were pretty sad souls who just couldn’t get their work done in 8 hours and therefore were punished to stay behind till they would finish it. Gosh, a few years later, it looks like things have turned around 180 degrees and nowadays it’s actually the opposite: if you leave your (home) office by the end of those 8 hours, something is wrong with your productivity: rather your fault or just basically not having enough work. Where do you think you are going, Mr.?, is probably almost everyone’s perception when you decide to leave the office on time.
The reality though, as I have blogged in the past, is that numerous decades of research have proved that we start dropping off on our productivity levels when we reach 40 hours, beyond that we keep failing to deliver, yet, we expect people to stick around just because we feel it would make us more productive and therefore provide better business results. How wrong! It’s actually quite the opposite, as Geoffrey nicely describes it on that article I referenced above, as you basically would just be accounting for burnout and eventually be creating more trouble than helping out. Yet, we keep expecting it to take place. Yet, we all feel guilty if we “leave the office” before our colleagues do and we get frowned upon if we don’t stick around long enough. And that long enough is no longer according to your own terms, but someone else’s!
We need to stop that. And the sooner, the better! Yes, social networking tools for business, as well as mobile, are making that job really tough, since work has finally transitioned from a physical space, a la having to go to the physical office every day, to a mental state, where work happens wherever you are. You are work, work is you, as some folks would say, but at the same time You are life, life is you, I would say. And in most cases we are the only ones who know how to get the best out of it not just for ourselves, but also for those around us, the ones who we care the most about in the first place!
So if that extensive research has proved that 40-hour long work weeks are the best option to remain productive, why don’t we stick around with that notion, instead of giving in to that work and peer pressure? You know, there used to be a time when, back in the day, I always felt sorry for those folks who had to stay behind at the traditional office finishing up work because they just couldn’t finish it off on time. I would try to help as much as I could on my own ability, but time and time again they ended up being on their own. Few years later. I am still sorry, but this time around for those folks who, on purpose, decide to “stay behind in the office” working a few extra hours, for free, without having anything in return, just because it looks good to their bosses and to their peers, because, you know, if you don’t do it, it would look like you would be lazy around. Seriously, why do we keep having this obsession of endless work days with 7, 8, 9 or even 10 hours of meetings, and then have to finish off work, when it’s just that same research I have mentioned above the one that has proved time and time again it’s just an unsustainable model in the long run? What are we trying to achieve eventually?
In a way, we are just killing ourselves, slowly, but steadily, and without even realising it. Yes, I know, we may be all working really hard, specially, now with the pervasiveness of social networking tools within the workplace, because they enable us to put up more work hours breaking the barriers of timezones, geographies, and whatever else, but what at what costs? Is it really worth while sacrificing your only one single life on this planet and those who matter to you the most for that promotion, for that advancement in your career, for that looking good to your boss and colleagues, when eventually, according to that research, you won’t be even capable of enjoying it to the fullest just simply because you would lack the energy, the good health and the ability to do so? Really, do you think it’s worth while the fight? Or aren’t out there much, much, better things that you could be doing instead?
It’s interesting to note how time and time again I always have plenty of people admiring how religious I have become in protecting my own personal, private time, versus work time, in becoming a zealot on how I split up what’s work and what’s everything else. Basically, what I have been talking about in the past around “Work Life Integration“, versus work life balance where I have always claimed that there isn’t such balance because work always wins. What most folks may not know though is that I have become so good at it, because I learned, through the hard way, as usual, how to do it. It goes back to 2004, January 22nd, to be more precise, when I learned that unless you look after your own personal life and make it count, no-one else is going to do it. And I had to reach the state of being in a rather poor healthy status to realise about it. Stress was one of the minor worries at the time. I was very happy I was in time to react and acknowledge that I no longer need to apologise to anyone when I am done with work within those 40 hours. There is no reason to do it. It’s not even worth it. Yes, you may think that you may be risking your own career, but let’s face it, do you want to risk your career or your own life? You know, you still have the choice. Always have.
At a time when most knowledge workers spend 3 years per average on any given job, if not shorter altogether (More on this one shortly!), I guess it’s time that we, knowledge Web workers, start protecting more, and set the boundaries of both work and personal, because at the end of the day, if we ourselves don’t do it, no-one else is going to do it for us. And don’t worry, there isn’t even a need to apologise. To anyone. After all, you are all looking after your own health. And that’s just priceless. And much to treasure for, regardless of what other people may think or say. You would still need to break the chain and keep challenging the status quo to keep your sanity intact. You need it. They need it. We all need it.
Oh, by the way, if you have got a chance, take a look into the 4 minute long video clip, towards the bottom, (Wish I could share the embedded code below…), included in Geoffrey’s article, that features Lisa Price - President and Founder of Carol’s Daughter – sharing plenty of insights on how she manages it all, no apologies to anyone either, and you will see why I titled this article in the way I did…