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Monday, January 30, 2006

ChangeThis Proposal

Inspired by friends Felix Gerena and Trevor Gay, co-conspirators at 100 Bloggers, the blog Synergy, and Rattle the Cage, I’ve submitted a proposal to ChangeThis. Stay tuned! I will be soliciting your votes.

But first I would like your feedback on my proposal. It follows.

I’m fed up with life-long self improvement evangelists and their seven steps to happiness. I’m tired of Jack Welch and Donald Trump preaching from the pulpit of unimaginable success. I’m sick of the management gurus and their how-to be what I see doctrines.

Tom Peters says, “Blow shit up!” This is easy enough to say if you own a farm in Martha’s Vineyard, free and clear, and you are pulling down 50k a pop for speaking engagements.


What about the recent college grad with an IS degree and 30k in student loans who can’t find an entry-level position because they have all been off-shored?

What about the 30-something mid-level manager whose upward mobility is limited by a gaggle of baby boomers with 25 years of tenure and an organization in a perpetual mode of right-sizing?

What about the everyman and everywoman with two kids in college and two car payments and aging parents and shrinking benefits?

Sometimes re-invention is not so easy. Or not an option.

What then?

I would appreciate your feedback.

Troy - this is brilliant! If you answer this question, I'll not only read the manifesto, I'll help you publish it. Talk to me!
I remember an occasion once when I was working in a state-of-the-art facility and we had a visit from a senior guy in a non-competitor company who were about the only other company in the UK to have anything like the kind of site we were operating. We showed him round and, rather than saying, "Oh yeah, we've got that, we've got this, we do it just as well as you, blah blah" (which, I have to admit, is probably the atitude I'd have had at the time) he homed in on 2 details. Both of them were really mundane and a pretty standard piece of kit, just happening to be employed in this whiz bang facility. Talking to him at the end of the day, he said that wherever he went - high tech, low tech, good, bad or indifferent - he always made a point of looking around for one really good idea that he could take back home. The lesson stuck with me.

Tom Peters, Jack Welch et al: sure, it's "easy" for them. Now. But let's remember that once upon a time they were struggling college grads, too, and just because they've "made it" doeasn't exclude them from having good ideas or advice to dispense. Oddly, a lot of these guys have big brains, lots of determination and drive. Some random thoughts:

- If you're tired of management or life style guru's then stop reading them. It's easy!
- Bear in mind that unless you win the lottery or rob a bank, overnight riches don't happen often.
- Your career path sometimes gets blocked. Live with it. Figure out how you sit it out. Or work around it. Or move on.
- Work isn't the only thing. There's nothing wrong with going to work, doing a conscientious job, pulling a salary and then going home. You could re-acquaint yourself with the family, develop a hobby, do some charitable work, join a club... Maybe adopt this strategy while your path is blocked.
- Bear in mind that no-one owes you a living.
- Material goods aren't everything. I'm sure we'd all love the big house, Ferrari etc but if you're comfortable, why do you want more?
Mark! I appreciate your feedback. There is no doubt that the oddly big brained boomers you mentioned have many good ideas and much good advice to dispense. This is beyond dispute. I'm just offering a slightly different perspective.
I can really feel the passion in your post. I think you should definitely write it. I don't have a problem with the gurus you have mentioned. I have read their books and bought their tapes. i have learned much from them. However, as you are well aware of, I am a big believer in learning from the gut level. I learn as much or more by communicating with people that are going through the struggles. That is the whole basis of the Hillbilly Ph.D. There is a kind of thunder at that level that I can't pick up on from the gurus. Tom Peters is a fabulous talent and a very good guy, But by Gawd, so is Troy Worman. I say write it with all the thunder you can muster. You'll have my vote
Rocky! Thanks for the feedback. I like your description of the thunder in the trenches.
Great! A CONTRARIAN view, at last. I too fell, from time to time, sick and tired of reading and listening to the gurus who proclaim to the masses that they should get up off their butts and change the world overnight.

Although feeling this way, I am well aware that Peters, Welch, Walton, Smith (FedEx), and others took DECADES to get where they are now. While they struggled to make their ideas work (and they all had a single, simple, profound IDEA that they were working on) they worked at making a living, and some even went into debt...large debt. They took risks. The raised families. They paid the bills. They worked long hours. They suffered rejection.

And that's what seperates them from the herd. The took CALCULATED RISKS to pursue ONE BIG IDEA that they were deeply passionate about. They paid the price of success.

Examine any successful person, and you will see the very same pattern. Gates, Ellison, the Google Guys, Dell, etc. ONE BIG IDEA...LOTS of Risk Taking...a DECADE or so to make it happen.

So, fellow 100 Bloggers, here's my question to you:

What is your BIG idea, how much RISK are you prepared to take to pursue it, and HOW LONG are you prepared to give it?

Okay that's three questions!

I must admit, I myself struggle to have a BIG idea. One that gets me out of the bed in the morning, and keeps me awake at night...for all the right reasons! But I keep trying. I refuse to leave this world without having a positive impact...and the bigger the better. That's probably why I commit so much of my spare time to Habitat for Humanity (plug!). But even that doesn't do it for me. I know I have more to offer, but I am still in the wilderness.

So let's not knock those who are passionate about their own BIG idea(s). At least they have them!

How damned refreshing,
Thanks Troy
I think back to the movie, "The Cinderella Man" and the abject horror of the depression. The hunger, rejection, and utter hopelessness of the times. Yet through it all our greatest generation persevered and prospered.

This time is no different. Solve the problems you are talking about and the world will beat a path to your door.

Write that manifesto ... today
You are right Troy - do it.

As you know I sign up to Tom Peters thoughts on almost everything but as you say it is easy for Tom to say these things.

I have coined a phrase ‘it takes 35 years to become an overnight success.’

In my view nothing - repeat nothing beats hard work and doing your homework.

I do not believe in overnight successes.

I think we all aspire to the aspirations that people like Jack Welch and Tom Peters proclaim.

There are thousands of people struggling to know how to make a difference and get out of the rut they are in. I took a risk leaving the comfort blanket of a 35 year career but it was a calculated risk. Most of us swim close to the edge of the pool and only when we feel confident swimmers do we venture in the deep end.

Good luck Tory I will vote for you!
Troy, I really relate to your sentiment. Sometimes listening to the successful folks coaching from the seat of success just doesn't feel good. They're too remote, and it's easy to think -- hell, it's easy for them.

We all have a guidance system, a combination of our gut, brains, heart. The synergistic totality of all our senses, physical, mental, spiritual. And when we get that missing piece of the puzzle, the great words of wisdom, or the special bit of encouragement, or the internal voice that makes the connection that only we can see. Our Big Idea. When it comes to us, that guidance system just says "Yes!" And we can hear it. We can feel it. We sense it.

Sometimes Tom Peters really speaks to me. Other times, Jesus, or the Buddha. And a few minutes, Troy Worman spoke to me. I heard the Word, and it was good.

But sometimes our vessel gets too full, and we can't hear anything. Empty it out. Go quiet. Go on a guru diet.

I'm looking forward to the answers you get. I think you've got an eager hungry audience. The best guidance I've gotten is the one that helps me fish better with my own fishing pole. So much of the self-help market is just fish.
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