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What Is Your Right Work?

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Why is unemployment still so high?

Where are all the jobs and why aren't they coming back?

Why are so many people, " looking for jobs in all the wrong places"?

The Sunday New York Times of May 17, 2013 included an enthusiastic readers response to Jared Bernstien's query (Op-Ed, May 3) entitled "Where Have All the Jobs Gone?"

Per Mr. Bernstein's article, the jobless rate is still at 7.5 percent, with 11.7 million people looking for work, including 4.4 million who have been out of work for at least half a year. About eight million more were said to be "stuck" in underemployment as part-time workers who needed full time employment. Reader response was incredibly thoughtful relative to "An Economy in Transition" and there...

is where we begin our story...

Once upon a time, long, long ago, before you were born, there was a time when everyone had food to eat, neighbors to call on when help was needed, a talent or skill they contributed to their tribe, a roof over their heads, time to sit around a fire together to share stories and hear the music of life.

There were hardships of course, but they were communal hardships and if you were in trouble, so was I. We worked together to alleviate your pain because it was my pain too. We worked together to grow and find food because if you had no food, neither did I.

We worked to care for and educate all of the children because we believed that all children were all of our children. We worked hard to take care of our old people knowing they held the wisdom which we needed to learn and because they were those who had taken good care of us.

We were collectively, all in right work, all of the time.

What happened?

The industrial revolution happened.

People left their villages and farms. Cities got bigger and bigger and there were so many people in such a small place. People had to find one job in the cities. Jobs were specialized and required training. People lived alone in small family units. A dependency developed on the employer and the employer replaced the village. People became completely dependent on their jobs and their employers for life itself. People could no longer imagine life without a job. Jobs became a metaphor for life itself.

Computers were invented. Computers eliminated millions of jobs. Many jobs went away and aren't coming back. People are terrified because life itself appears to be threatened. What people don't know is that work is always changing and this change is a good one.

People are reinventing how they work!. They are accessing creativity and technology and retooling themselves. There is community reappearing. There are talents and skills emerging that people had forgotten they had. People are beginning to get to know themselves in a way they never knew before. People are now finding right work.

There is a new village emerging, a new fire around which we are sitting and a new way of working which we are creating, one person at a time.

The fact about work today is that it is being redefined by resourceful people who understand the opportunities in today's work environment and have learned how to match their unique needs and talents to a changing workplace that they create.

I talk about many of these people in my book, "Finding Right Work: Five Steps to a Life You Love". The stories in the book range from the rich and famous, people like Robert Mondavi, who was booted out of the family wine business at the age of 52 and emerged to pioneer American fine wine making, to other, lesser known people, who by understanding how to maneuver effectively in the new work world, have found work that is profoundly right for them.

No, the jobs are not coming back. That's not necessarily bad news, it can be good news. Its potentially good news because with the full utilization of technology and people's emerging creativity, there are more and more people finding right work than ever before. The first step always is to give yourself permission to find right work and then to begin to understand what that that means...one person at a time.

Leni Miller is CEO and President of EASearch,LLC, a national Executive Search firm headquartered in San Francisco, CA. She is the author of "Finding Right Work: Five Steps to a Life You Love".
In the book, Ms. Miller presents cases and lessons from her thirty year recruiting and search career, to explain how people from all walks of life can find more meaningful work in today's economic environment.