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As Thomas Friedman points out, just doing your job in an average way — in this integrated and automated global economy — will lead to below-average wages. Sadly, average is over. We’re in the age of “extra,” and everyone has to figure out what extra they can add to their work to justify being paid more than a computer, a Chinese worker or a day laborer. “People will always need haircuts and health care,” says Katz, “and you can do that with low-wage labor or with people who acquire a lot of skills and pride and bring their imagination to do creative and customized things.” Their work will be more meaningful and their customers more satisfied.
Innovation, creativity, lifelong learning, passion, entrepreneurship, personal mastery — these are the qualifications our children are going to need in order to do well in the 21st century.
They’re the qualifications we’re all going to need. And at the end of the day, these traits come down to one, seemingly un-business-like thing: love. True, lasting success is increasingly going to be measured by our ability to love our work, to love learning, and to love the people we serve.
Do you really care about your work? And will your children? Because if they don’t care, they’re going to do an average job. And average just won’t do.
At one level, our society already gets this, as witnessed by the ever-increasing pressure being placed on kids to do whatever it takes to succeed. (Get better grades! Better scores! Better hobbies! Now!)
But even more important than what we achieve is why we achieve it. When we do things because we “should,” because we want others’ approval, or just because we want the money, sooner or later things fall apart. (Exhibit A: The financial crisis. Exhibit B: Britney Spears.)
So how can we help our children find and follow their callings, instead of just training for a career? How can we tap in to our own passions, and find ways to do what we love that also pay the bills? How can we evolve our educational systems so they better honor the whole person? And how can we learn how to do business in a new, different, more loving way?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these important questions.
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