In the course of writing books describing hundreds of livelihoods that people can pursue, we’ve been able to repeatedly interview leaders in over a hundred different fields. Most of these industries have undergone the most dramatic transformations in their histories. Some fields, like typesetting and word processing services have virtually disappeared. Others like executive search and various medical services are so different in nature as to require entirely different skills to do well. Careers become obsolete – sometimes replaced by technology, sometimes in the way people live.
Think what’s happening to retail stores like Sears, Radio Shack, and J.C. Penney. One thing has remained the same, however. Established industry leaders can often be the least likely to grasp the scope and scale of the changes going on around them. Too often they’re like the horse trader who asserted horse-less carriages would never put him out of business because they scare the horses. They just don’t believe they have much to worry about.
That’s precisely what happened to Clarissa. Her referral business was dwindling, but she attributed it to an extended seasonal down turn. The point came when she did acknowledge that people could get services like hers for free on the web but for the longest time she was convinced that if she just cut back on her expenses she would be OK. “There will always be people who want a live human being to talk to,” she told herself. As the days passed before she had to close her business, she vacillated between feeling out of control and becoming overly perfectionistic for fear that if she made even one slip up she would go under.
What Clarissa needed is what we all need in times of change, clarity about what’s really happening and what aspects of it we can and can’t control. If she had been clear as to what was happening, like Annette did in realizing that first the fax machine and then the Internet would change how businesses got information about upcoming events, Clarissa might have been able to use the referral service as the basis for an app that she might fund through crowdfunding on a site like Kickstarter.com or Indiegogo.com. Or she might have morphed it into a web marketing company, helping the subscribers she had been providing referrals to for so long to establish their web presence. In other words, clarity about what was going on would have enabled her to be proactive, and prevented her from concluding, as she did after her business went under, that her fate was out of her control.
Limiting or short-sighted beliefs about what is happening can also prevent us from making changes we want to initiate ourselves. Donald had misgivings about his work as a marketing executive for some time, but he didn’t believe that there were any other options unless he gave up the lifestyle he wanted to preserve. After his wake-up call of being unable to continue an important presentation, however, he knew he had to change and soon left the company he’d been working for. Eventually he saw that he did have options. He started his own marketing company representing socially conscious companies and ultimately his annual earnings exceeded that of his previous salary!
Gaining clarity means distinguishing what we hope will happen, fear could happen and are programmed to think will happen from what actually is happening. It’s the ability to observe objectively what needs to be done.
What beliefs are preventing you from looking at your current situation objectively? What trends are you hearing or reading about that you’d just as soon not believe? What changes do these developments suggest you consider making? What beliefs are causing you to conclude you can’t do what you know you want and need to do? How could you see your way to concluding differently? How have others made the kind of changes you want to make?
For an initial free consultation to explore a sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact us.