By Jeff Klein
While I intended to post a piece on Conscious Culture this week, given that this is Labor Day weekend and given the dismal employment numbers announced yesterday, and the media’s heavy tone in reporting them, it feels more appropriate to reflect on the theme of economic recovery and jobs.
In the opening chapter of my book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, I quote Studs Terkel, from his book Working: “This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence—to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us.”
At the very beginning of Working for Good, I quote twentieth-century Syrian-born mystic poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran: “Work is love made visible.”
In the context of the Terkel perspective, work resides in a job we do for someone else for compensation. Get trained, fill a function, and get paid (and otherwise compensated). When we think of jobs we think about job security and opportunity (to move up a ladder or sideways to another job that provides us with more opportunity – security, compensation, etc.). If someone doesn’t have a job, they are unemployed and either compensations via unemployment compensation, based on their previous employment and compensation, or they are uncompensated. And, according to Terkel, to have a job is to suffer violence.
From the perspective of Gibran, work is an expression of our deepest creative potential – passion in action.
The Opportunity for Creating Value & Generating Wealth
Underlying “work,” is the process of creating value for others – to express our creative energy in a way that delivers service to others. They deliver value in exchange, in the form of financial remuneration or some other form of payment.
While many of us work in jobs and jobs can be an opportunity to express our love and creativity, and to deliver value, often jobs are just something we do for compensation. We don’t think about creating or exchanging value, or expressing our love or passion.
This morning I read this beautiful reflection on the legacy of Steve Jobs – how he made Apple great by ignoring profits. Steve Jobs, like countless entrepreneurs, are driven to do their work and to build their businesses in pursuit of vision and passion. Regardless of the scale or potential impact of the product or service they create, the underlying energy is similar.
This passion to create something new, and to deliver service to others represents the underlying spirit of our economy, yet it goes largely unnoticed or unmentioned when we consider the condition of our economy. Rather, we focus on how many new jobs were created and how many people went on or off the unemployment rolls.
What if we focused on, supported and celebrated individual and small group efforts to create value and generate wealth – for themselves, their communities, and the economy overall – by expressing their passion in action, by turning their talent and interests into products and services that deliver value to others?
While we cannot expect that everyone will become an entrepreneur, if we recognize that small businesses (including sole practitioners) create the majority of jobs in the United States and fuel innovation, and if we focus our attention and resources to create conditions to foster more entrepreneurial activity, we may ultimately find ourselves with an economy based more on love than on violence, and create a more vibrant economy in the process.
Jeff Klein is CEO of Working for Good, a company that activates, produces and facilitates mission-based, Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns and Conscious Culture development programs.
Jeff is a founding trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and authored the award-winning book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, to support conscious entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, leaders and change agents at work. He will be offering a 6-week tele-course entitled It’s Just Good Business, beginning September 22, 2011.
For more information visit workingforgood.com