Do You Want to Live in a Cookie Cutter World?

Art = WorkIf your work was more than a job or a place to go, what would you want to create? What world do you want to live in?

My generation has been sold a bill of goods. Here is the story we were sold:

  1. Have lots of friends. Be popular at school.
  2. Get good grades. Graduate.
  3. Get an education. Get a degree or two or three.
  4. Date. Meet good prospects who can provide and find the one that could be a “good” partner.
  5. Get a job so and have a great career.
  6. Marry. Have children. Make sure to have work-life balance.
  7. Climb the corporate ladder. Make sure to have work-life balance.
  8. Get recognized with money and power. Buy the latest and greatest stuff.
  9. Have a bucket list (live for tomorrow).
  10. Succeed. Show off your job, career, home, kids and declare success.
  11. Live happily ever after.

And now what? Why are so many people seeking meaning in their lives? Is it because that plan is not the one we desired. This was a cookie cutter approach defining how to lead a “good” life versus a “disappointing” one. Except that we all know that cookie cutters only make great ginger bread people in the kitchen. Sameness is stifling outside of the kitchen. Would we get excited going to a museum that was filled with similar pieces of art or would want to see different perspectives and creations? Did we see the people who sold us this prescription fulfilled?

We have entered the era of stupid when it comes to work. Someone recently shared with me that it took his company “6 months to hire me but only 3 months to fire me.”  Are we so focused on our “to do” list that we forgot what business we are in? Are people simply as disposable as furniture? Is it any wonder the younger generation is bringing different values to work?  Is there a good reason why 40% of the workforce will be contingent by 2020, pursuing their art and enjoying their flexibility?

We are not victims and as Seth Godin says: “don’t wait to be picked. Pick yourself” So, what can we do (they are in no order and will require some thinking to transform into action)?

  • We need to stop numbing ourselves with how work should be and trying to keep up. Innovation, brainstorming or creativity cannot be prescribed. It’s time for us to break away from using 20th century work models in a 21st century work world. Look at the graveyard of organizations that expired like Blockbuster, Kodak and the list goes on. Ask yourself: can my organization be added to the list or not? Why? And how can you create new markets?
  • We live in a world of possibility and opportunity so start thinking about creating instead of competing.
  • Take all the cookie cutters and best practices back to the factory. One of the most important skills today is listening and then understanding what can be done. We don’t listen so much any more.
  • Ask questions. You’ll be amazed at what you learn. Think about how ridiculous it is to believe that someone else’s best practice will work for you. There is no magic solution. It doesn’t work because you are different and have unique needs. Do you really need to be on all the social media networks out there or the ones that help you and your business achieve your goals? And make sure you realize to use these networks are there to build relationships and not simply to yell at people with your marketing messages.
  • Stop the excuses. Being overwhelmed is the challenge of the day. We have always had choices and it was the lightbulb that made our world 24/7 and not technology. Why did we choose to sleep if we had light and could work all day? Let’s stop numbing ourselves with excuses. It’s a choice to be busy and it is a high price to pay. Make time to think. Let’s stop numbing ourselves with being busy, food and shopping.

If work = art, what do you want to create in the world?

p.s the definition of cookie cutter:

Cookie cutter1. cookie-cutter

Marked by sameness and a lack of originality; mass-produced. Often used to describe suburban housing developments where all of the houses are based on the same blueprints and are differentiated only by their color.
I wouldn’t live in one of those ugly cookie-cutter houses for a million dollars.
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