The election of 2016 was one of the most challenging and divided elections in American history. It is alarming to look our country’s discontent squarely in the eye – but that is what we must do now.
In the early ’90s, I was deeply involved in politics and wanted to support positive and progressive change. That quest ended after I delivered our first Inspired Work program. Participants positively changed their lives in 48 hours. Suddenly, politics seemed slow, cumbersome, and shallow. This is where I sit today.
Following the election of 2016, half the country was angry and disappointed. Somewhat ironically, it was anger and disappointment that drove the other half to elect Donald Trump to lead our country.
I believe that all of the candidates failed to address the real cause of the anger and malaise plaguing our country. The rate of change has left so many people on the sidelines. Promising them jobs and bringing us back to Mayberry isn’t the answer. Promising to end outsourcing when we outsource more jobs than any other country in the world isn’t realistic.
The real answer is understanding how to change and make use of the innovations and resources in front of us. I know this because helping people do this is my mission, vision, and purpose.
Showing others how to change and reinvent themselves takes a level of courage and clarity that eluded our candidates – but it is absolutely what so many of our brothers and sisters need. Recently, I listened to a senator talk about how our workers need to be retrained. For a moment, I felt a sense of hope. Then he said that we ought to be training steelworkers to become truck drivers.
Truck drivers? In the next few years, millions of truck drivers will be shown the door as safe driverless trucks become widely available. None of our candidates addressed this dilemma; as a consequence, anger and ignorance prevails on both sides of the fence.
We actually need to go back 300 years to find a scenario parallel to the one we are currently in. The Industrial Revolution handed out pink slips to more than half the world’s workers. That event didn’t end work, but it did change work. During the Industrial Revolution, political and civil unrest broke out in the United Kingdom. People were at a loss as to what they would do with their futures and how they would feed their families. It took a long time for that era to end and for a new one to dawn.
This is how the history of work moves. The waves will continue to push change on us ever more quickly. The only opportunity we have is to use those waves to our benefit.
Today is a time to practice compassion for everyone, to look toward the individuals who voted for the past as well as the future. We have no choice but to step into the future, and for so very many of us, doing that will require new outlooks, new skills, and more optimism than ever before.
No one person can do all that for us. No one person can take that action on our behalf. No one person can take us into the light. It is our responsibility to throw the switches and turn on the lights in our own lives. For those of us who believe these words, it is also our responsibility to help the others find their way.
This country gave me my life, education, and a platform to succeed. It seems that we are headed toward a band new square one. What that means will be revealed in time.
Regardless, I am signing up for the future, and I am here for anyone who wants to come along.
David Harder is the founder of Inspired Work.