While the spotlight has shifted from "Job Creation" to "Spending Freeze" in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, stimulating new jobs will be there, like the air that we breathe, in all that he says. Listen closely. What Obama will be talking about is job creation and all the various ways to create jobs.
Am I crazy to say this? No. Here's why. Putting aside the issue of exempting the Pentagon and Homeland Security from the freeze (which I'll address in a future blog), the idea of expanded lending to small business is a good idea. So is expanding programs for childcare, and an emphasis on ways to fund the infrastructure needed for a clean energy economy. Obama's proposed "surgical cut" of wasteful spending across agencies is a good thing. So is going face to face with lobbyists who want to hang on to every dollar.
Right now the news media is spinning the State of the Union story right and left. At the center is a story I want to tell... the story I call Boss America. The story of building a nation of micro entrepreneurs, similar to the kind of entrepreneur described in Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus' book Banker to the Poor, with a uniquely American twist.
America's micro entrepreneurs are those people who can look in the mirror and see the person they work for each day: themselves. To see oneself as boss of a business takes a shift, a mental flip. It's a flip that shifts one's thinking from that of consumer to that of producer. What am I producing today? Does it benefit others? Call it Conscious Capitalism.
The distinction between consumers and producers is an important one. We are more than consumers. We are citizens and producers living in a country noted for its creativity and innovation. At the moment, we are riding a wave of high unemployment.
So, how are We-The-People doing at job creation? Are we waiting for the Old Economy to kick in and create a job for us that we can hardly wait to leave each day, at a salary that insults our intelligence and skills?
Or are we looking for a lifeline -- call it passion -- that will hook us into to the new emerging economy? To understand what this new economy is and how to use it to our advantage, we are going to have to change our relationship to money, reinvent ourselves, and choose a different future.
We've come a long way from the Democratic ideals of our founding fathers, which were embedded like a code in the U.S. dollar bill. Today, most of the money in the world is embedded with fear. This includes the money in your hand, in your bank account or credit card, as well as the money that runs the government and funds lobbyists.
There is the fear of money being lost or stolen. Fear of scarcity. Fear that there is not enough: not enough to pay the bills, rent, or credit card debt. Fear buys weapons, breaks things down, tears families apart, and drives countries toward bankruptcy with its insatiable demands. It rides unmindful over the cadavers of the poor.
In today's weak economy, to focus on Job Creation is to be fearless. When you focus on the unique skills and talents you have that can be of service to others you can become free of fear.
Interested in health care? Use Dr. Paul Farmer, as your role model. Dr. Farmer graduated from Harvard Medical School, then turned his back on a high paying job, and offered his services for free to the poor. Twenty-five years later, his $50 million dollar nonprofit, Partners in Health, has become a story of inspiration, and featured on 60 Minutes.
Want to play a role in building a clean energy economy? Take a look at Shai Agassi, CEO of A Better Place. Agassi, who travels between Silicon Valley in California, and Israel, began a start-up a few years ago with the goal of ending our dependence on oil. His "better idea" for a low cost electric vehicle recently secured $350 million dollars in funding.
In my next blog, I'll describe a Career Changing exercise that can help you shift gears. It will guide you in creating sustainable, meaningful work that makes a difference.
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