I awoke on Labor Day remembering when it was a day to celebrate our country's ingenuity, strength and creativity. It was a celebration of our prosperity.
In twenty-first century, Labor Day marks the celebration of the end of summer, back to school sales, and another break from work to catch your breath before the end of the year. Labor Day has become a respite from the grind for all classes of workers except those manning the sales counters today.
When I step back and look at how "far" we have come since the turn of the last century when Labor Day was created, I see a country struggling to exit a recession and people burnt out on pursuing the American Dream. I see people plugged into the Matrix thinking they are in control, when that is the furthest thing from the truth. I see burn out as being on the hamster wheel and being too scared to get off.
Yes, there are pockets of entrepreneur-ism, innovation, creativity and growth in our world. I celebrate these pockets and hold them up as inspiring examples. I also study these individuals and organizations so we can learn from them. But when I look at our nation as a whole I see people more interested in Miley Cyrus's antics than creating prosperity. I see people asking "why me?" instead of "how can I serve?"
Honestly this saddens me. I believe the American Dream of prosperity is not lost, yet it's been shrouded in "rugged individualism" gone awry. Prosperity is not found in every man or woman for themselves, fighting over the sales items at Ross. Prosperity is found in the energy we create in our selves and collectively as a national and global community.
Creating prosperity in the form of greater physical and mental well-being, connection and spiritual growth (the Third Metric as Arianna Huffington calls it), as well as creating more jobs, starts with looking inside at our own role. Where have each of us sold out and given up on being more? Specifically, where have you held back from connecting with others, releasing grudges or taking a risk to bring more prosperity (in all its forms) into your life? Address your own way of being, your barriers and your fears and you can open the door to personal and global prosperity.
Taking My Own Medicine
I don't ask these questions to piss people off, although I suspect I might. I ask my readers these questions because I ask them of myself. I'll open up and share my answers, in the hope I will inspire you to ask your own questions:
· I have held back on connecting with others for fear of being rejected or judged. · I have refused to release grudges so I could be right and because forgiveness (of self and others) seemed too painful. · I have been aloof (shy as I've rationalized it) so I didn't have to risk being laughed out or judged for my opinions and ideas. · I have failed to connect and serve and instead deprived people of the opportunity and freedom to create more prosperity because I have wanted to be comfortable and not rock any boats, especially mine. · I have resided in the fear of failure and instead failed to act in everyone's interests. · I have held back for fear of overwhelm which I have believed would consume me if I was as successful as I know I'm capable of being. · I have given up on people believing they don't want to create a better life for themselves or their teams.
Now it's your turn to share in the comments below. But before you do, let me share why opening up and why I think you'll benefit from the same vulnerability and self-inquiry.
Prosperity For All
The last four years, if not my entire life, has been a journey to the moment when I launched The Ignite Well Being Institute (IWBI). In the mid-80′s I dove into the world of business, economics and law with the mission to support people in sharing their creativity and productivity with the world. (At that time my focus was saving family farms and farmers). As I woke up this recent Labor Day, I realized my mission and vision has not changed much, but only taken on a larger scope. I believe our personal, national and global prosperity springs from the energy of each person coming together with all their skills and talents to connect, innovate and create.
Whether you read the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Inc . Magazine or Fast Company, you will see a theme. Look at Gallup's research and you will see the same theme. Look at the nightly, feel good, kick off story of your nightly news and you will see it.
Energized people -- people with well being, focus, passion and purpose -- are the ones creating change, jobs and prosperity in the world. Whether its the latest technology innovation, an organization ending suffering in remote areas of the world or an individual reaching out to those less fortunate to give them a lift, these energized people are creating prosperity fueled by their personal and collective energy. These people have not given up. These people have chosen to face their fears and do whatever it takes to achieve an excellent and visionary result in their life and community.
Imagine if more people lived this way.
. . . if more people moved through their fear of connection, vulnerability and intimacy, what kind of world would we create? . . . if more people followed their dream, what kind of world would we create? . . . if more people lived in gratitude, what kind of world would we create? The short answer - we would create a world of prosperity where we get to celebrate ingenuity, strength and creativity again.
Now It's Your Turn - A Challenge For Every Day As you re-entered the grind, I want to challenge you to create prosperity in your world. Here are three challenges for you today and every day.
1. Stop. Listen. Respond. We unfortunately live on autopilot. We react to things around us from a place of past experience, instead of questioning how we want to respond. The result is usually something we don't really want. Consider the fact that your boss hasn't put in the request for your raise to HR. You could react with anger telling yourself and your colleagues that she doesn't care and she is out to get out and you hate this company and you wish you could get another job. Or you could stop the internal dialog and ask your boss how you can help her get the paperwork done and submitted. This is a response that will get you what you want. We react thousands of times a day. Next time, stop and listen to yourself or the other person and respond instead of reacting on autopilot.
2. Understand that you matter. Giving up on dreams of a great job, better health and a loving, safe relationship is a problem I see far too often. It's a problem that plagues our nation. Giving up is part of the burnout cycle. What leads to giving up? It's not the "system," Its losing sight on the fact that you matter. We all matter. If you have given up, or even have the occasional thought of giving up on any of your dreams, do what reminds you that you matter. Call a close friend. Talk to a kid. Volunteer. Remind yourself that you matter. When you reconnect with this, you will not give up on your dreams and you will know prosperity.
3. Be brave. It's comfortable to play it safe. Don't speak out. Don't let people in. Don't speak your mind. Don't show your heart. Don't step out of line. These are all ways we slowly drain our life's energy. To break this cycle, tear off the blinders and create more prosperity and energy in your life, be brave. Say what you think (from the heart) even if it means being rejected. Follow your dreams. Reach out. Be open. Take risks.
Prosperity is not a right it is something we work for. Where can you create prosperity in your life and how to you have be to create it? Let me know in the comments below.This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power,” which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.
Follow Laurie Erdman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LaurieErdman