There are plenty of times, throughout our very own lives, when we bump into some wonderfully inspirational reading material(s) that, while going through them, reading them at a slower pace, with a smile on our faces, savouring each and every single word of that written piece, letting your mind go wild into deep thoughts of how profound the impact of that article may well be not just for you, but equally for those around you, that you just don’t want to finish it off any time soon, you get to realise, at that stage, that you may be reading perhaps the Top 3 article of your working lifetime.
Yes, you know, that kind of impact; that single masterpiece that will slap you left and right to wake you up, to transform your working life for good, for better, for everyone’s better, to show each and everyone of us not only why we do what we do, but also who we are for what we do. Every single day. Well, I think I may have just bumped into such crown jewel and, in case you may not have read it just yet, I would suggest you stop everything you may be doing on the side, right now, while multitasking, and read what I think is probably one of the most truly inspirational readings you would be doing this year, perhaps even in the last few years altogether. Please allow me to point you all to what I would consider an indispensable read for all of those knowledge workers out there, who would need to go for a little bit of a reminder of their own identity, as workers. Please go and enjoy reading “The Labor Day Manifesto of the Passionate Creative Worker” by John Hagel.
John, along with a bunch of really smart collaborators, has put together what I would consider some seminal, foundational piece of work on defining not just the concept of the (traditional) knowledge (Web) worker (Driven, in most cases by passion, creativity and collaborating with others sharing their own knowledge openly), but that one of the Workplace of the Future at the same time.
To go ahead and reproduce the entire Manifesto wouldn’t probably be a smart thing to do, but I think I’m going to take the liberty of grabbing a few bits and pieces over here, so that you folks can see what I mean with foundational piece of work. The purpose, if anything, is more along the lines of paying a tribute to a genius piece of writing that is already hanging on my wall, right across my laptop, to remind me, everyday, why I come to work and why it matters. So I have decided to quote each and everyone of those mantras, highlighting some of the keywords that I have felt identified myself with all along, for years, and which I am hoping they would serve, as well, as a small teaser that would encourage you to read the rest. It’s also an exercise I want to do for myself to internalise each and everyone of those principles, so that on those weak moments that we all get exposed to every now and then, I can remember, treasure, rejoice, reabsorb, restart, and re-inspire myself to keep pushing the limits forward, because that’s what we have been rather good at all along. We just didn’t realise it till now. So here we go:
- Live our lives, not someone else’s: “We are the arbiters of meaning in our own lives“
- Blaze new trails: “There is no established path to greatness […] We challenge the status quo, and in turn, seek out things that challenge us”
- Prioritize learning over efficiency: ”Mistakes, while the enemy of efficiency, are the fuel for learning”
- Share knowledge freely: “We see each person’s enormous potential to contribute to our global knowledge base […]“
- Recognize that institutions exist to serve people: “ We don’t exist for institutions, they exist for us”
- Quit jobs that we hate: “There are too many interesting things to do in this life to waste time on things that don’t matter” (This is one of my favourite principles from the whole list put together!)
- Escape the trap of wasting time by being busy: “Being overscheduled, even with the best things, will cause us to miss the important things that can’t be planned, and will rob us of the most valuable opportunities of our lives”
- Live life for the adventure: ”Life is as amazing as we make it”
- Stay on the edge: “The people who change the world are out at the edge of their field, pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.”
- Continually reinvent ourselves: “We know that passion is the key to personal growth”
- Never settle: “Never. Ever. Not even once […] Let us join forces and help each other along the way to become better, far better, than we ever could alone“
I am really hoping that such a teasing exercise would help you drop over John’s Manifesto, but at the same time take the pro-active approach of leaving a comment or two, singing up for it, making that formal commitment that you would be living your work life from here onwards embracing and celebrating each and everyone of those principles, so that we, together, can continue to up the game into bigger, greater, more meaningful things. In short, the workplace of the future. Our workplace.
I am sure at this point in time you may be wondering whether there are any examples out there that would be fully embracing and breathing the true powerful inspiring spirit of this Manifesto itself, you know, moving from the theory into the practice, and since we are talking about this in the context of business and our working lives, I thought it would be worth while sharing, perhaps, a couple of examples that have certainly made me think, a lot, about plenty of the key messages from John’s masterpiece. More than anything, because both of them truly show the potential of what we could achieve together. As one.
The first example is another manifesto, The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video, (Big thanks to my good friend Stephen Collins for sharing it along!) which is currently portrayed in another superb, rather short, video clip, that I can certainly recommend everyone to go through. It lasts for a little bit over two and a half minutes and the way it introduces itself across to everyone is with a single one liner that I am sure we can all relate to and would sign up for time and time again: Do what you love. And do it often.
“Life is simple. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion” are also some of the mantras that you will see permeating throughout the video clip, which is just perfect, because they are going to help me introduce the second example that I wanted to share with you today. This time around shared by another good friend, the always insightful and thought-provoking Dave Pollard, who pointed us out to Doing it Ourselves, where you will see a beautifully crafted, rather smart, witty and mind-boggling video clip of about 12 minutes under the suggestive heading “What the Economic Crisis Really Means – and what you can do about it“, which would sound very fitting for the current econoclypse and financial turmoil we are going through and which, once again, managed to get the Hippie 2.0 side out of me. Here is the embedded code of the video clip, so that you can see what I mean. It’s probably one of those brilliant clips that you would want to show everyone out there to explain why we are where we are, but also how we can all start reverting the tide, realign and change, for the better, on what really matters: our mere survival at this point and here is why:
Finally, in a recent article, If You Were the Next Steve Jobs…, Umair Haque keeps challenging us to think different, to tackle good old known problems with new eyes, new insights, new ways of working, of solving those issues, together, as one, highlighting what I feel are some of the most prominent challenges that Social Business is facing in today’s corporate world. Basically, finding a new purpose, a new meaning of wanting to do things different, a new way where sustainable and responsible growth becomes the new norm, our latest mantra; this time around though to stay with us for a while, a long while, because, after all, we have always known what to do, and how to do it. We just needed the trigger to ignite and wake up our knowledge workforce once again and bring them back to life; then the rest will come up rather easily, on its own… How? Well, how about by fully embracing and living “The Labor Day Manifesto Of the Passionate Creative Worker“, as a good starting point? Something tells me, perhaps my Hippie 2.0 side, once again, that we wouldn’t be that far off from where we would want to head towards to in, say, the next 30 to 50 years. Don’t you think?
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!]
One of my favourite topics du jour is that one of the Future of Work and, more specifically, how the world of Social Networking is helping redefine it by provoking one of the most profound business transformations we have lived through in our entire history. But then again work, per se, is a whole lot more than just in a business context. Work keeps morphing at a rather rampant and unstoppable pace moving from being that physical space where things happen to become nowadays a state of mind. Work happens wherever you are, in a specific, unique and given context, with the tools you have at your disposal (and the people you may have around you to help you get it done). We are no longer restricted to the traditional office, nor a fixed top-down driven hierarchical team with a specific set of goals. We probably have got nowadays much better collaboration and knowledge sharing tools than ever before, allowing work to flow versus stagnate thanks to those unstoppable open knowledge flows amongst knowledge workers, whether inside or outside of the firewall, participating in meaningful conversations with customers, business partners, competitors, thought leaders, etc. etc. The traditional concept of the workplace is now a thing of the past. And about a good time, too! We are work. Work is us.
Later on next month, on September 21st, I will be participating, as one of the speakers, at the superb Joint Alumni Conference (a.k.a. JAC 2012) event that will be taking place in Zurich and my dissertation is going to be around this very same topic, i.e. The Future of Work. Over in Google Plus I have been having an exhilarating and rather inspiring conversation with a few folks, that I would love to invite you all to check it out, drop by and leave a comment, or two, if you wish to as well (Will be using that thread live on stage!), on what I will be covering on this very same topic and while doing plenty of research on stuff that I would want to talk about I bumped into another G+ Post from my good friend Jim Hays that clearly helps redefine our traditional concept of work. And how we may need to start shifting gears and make a mental switch from what we have considered, traditionally, as work, and what lies ahead for all of us, specially, in the current turmoil and financial econoclypse we have been going through in the last few years.
I think I would just go ahead and take the liberty of embedding the screen shot over here that Jim re-shared, so you can see what I mean with that redefinition of the state of work:
“If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work – Just look around: a housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there is work to be done. So ask yourself, what kind of world has work, but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business. This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.“
I am not sure what you would think about such brilliant and incredibly provocative quote, but the Hippie 2.0 side of me keeps telling me that we are probably starting to witness an unprecedented and unique opportunity to go through a massive change on how we view work and how the business world needs to start readjusting to a new reality. A new reality where if it is not an integral part of helping improve the well-being of our societies, of our qualified workers, pretty soon we are going to reach that point where we may not have those workers anymore, not even qualified ones. Which certainly helps me get reminded about a quote that I recently blogged about by Don Tapscott that I think clearly defines the main big challenge ahead for the business / corporate world of the 21st century, very much along the lines of adapt to the new reality or die in the attempt:
“Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing“
Indeed, I do strongly believe that the corporate world has been, long enough, perhaps for far too long!, totally disengaged with (knowledge) workers AND their societies. That lack of outer meaning, focus and purpose out of the short term, individualistic corporate profit (Driven by power, politics and greed, mostly) is soon reaching an end-point, if not already, whereby if businesses would want to survive in the 21st century they can no longer thrive in isolation, but must find their way to embrace and apply that so-called concept of corporate social responsibility, because otherwise knowledge workers will find a way to continue thriving without paying too much attention to the traditional business world environment.
Remember that myth of employee engagement? Well, thanks to social computing, and social networking tools, whether internal or external, we now have got a huge opportunity to revert that myth back, embed business back into society, our collective society, and continue through that learning process of redefining work to make it more human, democratised, accessible, universal, worthy, just and meaningful not only for those people who are actively working, but for everyone else altogether, as part of a single, unique ecosystem: society as a whole.
Exciting times, indeed, to live through! However, let’s just not waste that opportunity (again). We may not have another one coming up soon enough… and, if anything, let’s not forget that we, the workers, are the ones redefining the workplace of the future. Let’s ensure we get it right this time around with the little help and good effort from social software. We all are capable of wonderful things, we all know that. We just need to show it and demonstrate it. If we have been looking for a purpose for Living Social, I think this is our chance. We all know what’s the alternative, and how ugly it is, so it’s probably a good time to make a stand and start owning and take a bit more responsibility of our work. After all, it’s perhaps our only way to make this world a better place, not just for a few, but for everyone else altogether for that matter…