Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Year of Living Anxiously

I've written many blog posts about the lack of civility in modern society, the uncertainty in the economy, and the mismatch among scope, resources and time in organizations facing profitability pressures.

The next year will be a year of living anxiously (a reference to a 1982 Peter Wier film)

As I think about the increased conflict, tension, and uncertainty we face every day, what are the causes?

*Increasing competition from a global economy at time when the US is losing is leadership role in math/science/engineering
*Increasing mismatch between the cost of living and wages earned
*Increasing costs of healthcare as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product
*Increasing costs of compliance/regulation/legal fees - we are a very legalistic society and we've created substantial increases in overhead over the past few decades to cover lawsuits/risk mitigation/legal consultation
*Structural issues with our economy. Robert B. Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, wrote a fascinating article in the NY Times on September 2, in which he notes "In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation�s total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income."

Instead of creating dozens of entry level jobs, we're paying hedge fund traders to put hot tubs in the Lear Jets. There is something very wrong about this.

Believe me, I'm not nostalgic for the simpler times of the 1970's - I'm realistic about the challenges and realities of the 21st century. However, there is a point when cannot continue the pace of work, the rate of consumption, and the lifestyle we've come to expect.

While the next year is filled with Stimulus fund projects causing people to work harder and faster, while the efforts to accelerate HIT in the US create more change management anxiety, and while people feel increasing tension to compete with each other for budgets, I will endeavor to stay true to my own beliefs.

*The nice guy can finish first.
*Treating people fairly is the right thing to do
*You can lose the battle and still win the war.
*Expressing negative emotion in leadership or business context diminishes you
*Joy comes from relationships and experiences, not from owning more stuff

I never know what tomorrow will bring or how my business and personal life will evolve. By staying calm, honest, and altruistic, I'm convinced good things will happen.

In the next year, try to reduce the anxiety level in your workplace. Let's hope it's contagious!
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