The Desk

June 30, 2016

Troubled Landscape: Generations

So much of the time the typical comments heard about the new work force is in relation to generations that are post Baby Boom. There are comparisons. There are complaints. There are acknowledgements of positive attributes. There are concerns about the pressures they are already beginning to endure and sympathy for their conditions. There is awareness that they are deferring many of the usual inroads into adult life.

The majority of the complaints are with regard to whether the younger workforce is actually qualified to manage the needed tasks in a responsible way. Indeed, there are many instances wherein the complaints are justified. Quality of service and quality of workmanship is missing. The customer winds up needing to explain the concepts to the one doing the serving when the situation should be the reverse.

But the stream of soft, dewy faces continues to bombard the large and small silver screens. The older faces that either bear white hair or none at all become more faint and then drop out of view. Finally, a storyteller (read scriptwriter) allows us to be part of the scene being painted and we begin to see the cycle of life happening whereas we thought we were standing in a timeless environment. We are aging; it is time for the younger, newer to prepare to over the positions we once occupied. Our roles need to change.

At one time, we considered the younger generation as self absorbed and like a petulant child that demands what has yet to be earned. In a more reflective moment, we realize the Millennials are mimicking what we ourselves did some 40 to 50 years ago. We considered ourselves quite sophisticated and adult. We knew everything and were exquisite. We deserved not only what we had but had earned (and were entitled to) even more. Not only that, today’s Millennials and every generation before them feels their compensation should be much higher so that there is the ability to put their foot out of the nest in order to create their own.

And there’s the difficulty. The compensation seems misaligned in many instances. Not only that. There seems to be too little money available to be paid to the growing numbers of those who would like to be employed. Compounding that situation is the fact that inflation continues while the dollar’s buying power continues to shrink. That phenomenon is not merely because of inflation. It is also impacted by the fact that we now live in a global economy. It is simply good business to manufacture as cheaply as possible in order to sell at the highest possible markup and reap the best profit for the efforts to get to market with quality product or service.

And then there’s the issue of quality service – and training. In the rush to fill the orders and seats that are needed to create delivery, there’s something that’s being overlooked or given short shrift. It’s a precious asset. Few appreciate just how valuable it is. It’s called training. It’s sibling is mentoring. Good training will bring about quality service. Good training (and quality practice) will bring about quality product. And good mentoring will provide the insights not available in the textbook. That mentoring will also be the barometer of when the next plateau of development needs to be approached.

There's a mixture of generations working as one entity today

Previous roles are changed as life cycles evolve.

The difficulty with this easy-to-read picture is that the workforce is now a collage of generations. Some are just commencing Life. Others are in reboot mode because their previous industry collapsed or because they were downsized and cut out in order to cut costs. Difficult as it may be, there are many who are willing to subsume their ego and thoughts about their previous status in order to be included in the numbers who are employed and actually earning a living rather than being supported by government stipends or the kindnesses of strangers and family. Everyone is going through the spin cycle in order to come out still fresh and sparkly and equipped to produce because of the quality of knowledge, skill, education, experiences, and eagerness to be all they can be – and to help the business get there.

Today’s world of work is a difficult landscape.

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September 13, 2009

Social Responsibility

The September 11 observances were so moving. Some of the people who posted to my Comments on another site shared remarkable things. Some who wrote to me privately told of things that can be proven. Their statements show the bad faith and puppeteering of the day’s events. Just as with learning that the re-election of Bush the Younger was an inevitability, I was disappointed but no longer shocked at the news.

Explanations for the Inaction

Perhaps that loss of shock and social indignation is the reason so many of us allowed the snowballing effect of allowing our rights to be usurped. That was probably accompanied by (as in the Nixon regime) being overwhelmed with so many social, economic, and career upheavals that the only thing we could do was simply try to make the band-aid work to patch the gaping hole in our social fabric and livelihood.

I received many posts from a fellow in Morocco. The posts show the effects of the bombings and uranium that contaminates the environment. The quotes he provided and the anecdotes of life in the war zone(s) make me hate the fact that we, like sheep, accepted the increasingly fascist rule under the Reagan/Bush/Bush regimes and that we never had the motivation to exercise our rights as citizens to remove the ones (especially the last one) from office for failure to do the will of the people. Indeed, the majority of the people were willing to swallow the swill passed off as patriotism and a worthy national cause as truth. We blindly marched to the edge of the cliff and our own destruction in lemming style.

Racial Damnation

The fact that minorities, especially Blacks who are doomed to live out their lives in the ghetto, existing with poor education, lackluster values, their only hope contained in the deals they’re able to do to earn more than minimum wage and overcome the restrictions of welfare is consciously devastating to me. The fact that there are those who would, by example and deportment, damn others who are not of that ilk (and never were) is also disappointing to me.

The fact that Blacks carry such a burden from one generation to the next for eternity is not a curse but a test of how resilient the race can be. It is a test of each person with any part of an identity with that race to show the best of who they are. We are leaders, all of us, and we must lead by example.

When can we stop and relax? Only when behind our own doors and still being the best we can be for our own selves and for the sake of proving to our God that He has made a good steward in us to carry out His works in marvelous ways. Each time we go slack, we invite those who would keep us under their foot and in social bondage, we confirm their low opinion of us. We sin against ourselves. More importantly, we confirm that we are an example of what can be expected of the race — the poorest in personal habits, language, work product, knowledge, and everything else.

I still remember the words of my Second Grade teacher. I can’t remember what caused her to make the pronouncement. And in the mid 1950s, elementary school classes were a mix of colors and races, all children simply there to learn and be part of the mix without regard to the differences. But she told her charges, “. . . because you are Negro, you will have to be twice as good [as the Whites] in order to be considered half as good.” Her words were to encourage us to learn as much as we could and to put that knowledge to use in all aspects of our lives.

Where are those values today? Do we teach those values to the youth of today? I think not. I believe we teach them to expect to be subjugated and cut out of the race to be best. They then opt for their own entrepreneurial path, not realizing they do not have the training and knowledge to embark on such an endeavor. Thus, they stumble and do business in a poor and slipshod way, thereby setting an example that minority, and especially Black, business people are not a good choice for goods, services, advice and so on.

How should we survive? Will we overcome?

October 13, 2007

A Purpose

There are days when we get discouraged about everything. The first impulse is to simply give up — completely give in to the setbacks and inertia. This is not some flitting fancy. It’s part of the emotion and state of mind involved in depression. And it happens not because we didn’t lift a finger and what we wished for on a star didn’t fall into our hands. No, there’s another reason for the depression.

The depression is the result of many long hours (even months or years) of striving, struggling against great odds and obstacles without rest or recreation. It seems the more we struggle, the more we work toward achieving our goal, the farther away it is removed from our grasp.

Additionally, we find ourselves not being rewarded in any manner for our efforts — or at least it seems that way on initial blush. All we can see is the hard labor, the sacrifices, the meagerness about us, the squalor, the unsavory characters that we were taught in Sunday School to give charity who are now our comrades. How did this circumstance happen and why? Is this the reward for hard work?

The fruit of our endeavors is taken from us, credit for it given to others who have done little to even merit their initials near the product. If credit is not given to another, then we find the work deleted, erased, denigrated as pitiful and having little to no value.

There is justification for this depression. It is not right, it is not fair to put forth so much effort and find yourself in a negative position from where you started. Life is about growth, not regression. Life is about becoming more capable, growing stronger and taller with each passing day. Life is about growing wiser with each experience.

And therein lies the answer to the frustration and depression. Were it an actuality that we were not making progress, there would be no one erasing what was done. No one would be trying to claim our work as theirs. And if there were not quality as part of the inherent value of the product, it would not be desired, there would be no competition for ownership of it.

What this says, then, is that we have wronged ourselves. We have put ourselves in the midst of people and we do not belong in this crowd. These people have a great deal to learn. There is a lot they need to learn about theirselves. There is a lot they need to learn about putting into a project the quality that is required in order to derive that quality at completion.

Our frustration is that, as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts it, we are striving to build our monuments to ourselves. The monuments are being destroyed and sometimes before our very eyes. We realize that with each destruction or theft, there is nothing to mark the fact that we traveled this road and had that impact on the environment as well as other beings.

It isn’t a comfort, especially if you’re in this frame of mind at this instant. But take heart. This Earth is a very volatile place. Nothing lasts. Everything is destroyed in its own time. Earthquakes will tumble mountains, tsunami will wash away entire civilizations. And with those destructions, evidence of the people and their civilization will also be destroyed. The only difference is that one was done by Man, the other by Nature.

True, this consolation is meager. But it is consolation. The other is, as I said before, if the efforts had poor worth, no one would bother to take or destroy it. Be glad that you did something that lured the avarist. You set a milestone before them, a bar over which they needed to leap and they could not meet the test.

As to the losses, especially of proper company, there is a remedy. Start today to make time for yourself. Give yourself an indulgence at least once a week. Call or email an old friend. Find a reason to laugh. Make certain you have a voluntary smile. Even if it’s a cup of weak tea, sip it as though it’s a priceless wine to be savored.

And most of all, remember to consider the little things that are still providing you with quality of life.

To pass over all of these things without thinking about them, appreciating them, is definitely the waste. It’s amazing when we take the time to look over our shoulder at the part of the field that has already been plowed instead of what is in front of us that is still rough hewn and in need of order. An occasional look back can actually bolster our conviction to push forward. There is conviction. But there needs to be a time of rest in order to consider what has already come and gone. It wasn’t a waste. It all had a purpose.

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