It’s been “hiding” in plain sight. You just need to know what you’re seeing.
As a Boomer, in the late-1960’s to early-1970’s I was strongly inspired by and occupied with the counter-cultural revolution. The 1969 Woodstock Music Festival with half a million people for “3 Days of Peace and Music”, and The Beatles, anyone? As they sang,
“You say you want a revolution?
“Well, you know
“We all want to change the world.”
And I absolutely knew, along with a lot of others, that we were “gonna change the world.”
During that time Richard Bolles wrote What Color is Your Parachute describing a counter-cultural approach to work, careers, and jobs by discovering how to make livelihood part of authentic living and how work can become part of a life filled with passion and purpose. That philosophy resonated so strongly with me that I successfully created my holistic career counseling and facilitation work around it for 25+ years.
However, our culture didn’t embrace or make room for that paradigm then. Over the years, many of us creating that new path were disillusioned, disenchanted, discouraged, and frustrated by the experience of continually coming up against a wall.
For some years, I’ve been tracking any signs of a shift toward what I have called a “life-aligned” culture. Now I’m increasingly seeing encouraging ones! The Covid cultural disruptions and breakdowns cracked open some beliefs and paradigms, making breakthroughs possible where previously they weren’t.
Last August I posted two blogs, A New Life-Aligned Culture Is Emerging and More Examples of the Emerging Life-Aligned Culture with many diverse examples of this new culture appearing. Now here are more signs showing up.
Several of these come from Bruce Feiler’s work about the “Non-Linear Life”:
His new book The Search: Finding Meaningful Work in a Post-Career World describes how a new generation of workers is saying “I need a new work story” and is embracing meaning over money.
In “The New Rules of Success in a Post-Career World” he states that “the American ideal of success has been built almost entirely around ambition, wealth and status. By contrast, the dynamic workforce of today—younger, more female, more diverse—is eager to rewrite the American success story in its own image. They are flouting old norms to achieve success on their own terms. Today’s workers are focused as much on the quality of their lives as on the quality of their jobs.”
His article 100 Million Americans Are Unhappy at Work – Here's How Not to Be One of Them describes the work culture we’ve been living in: “A huge flaw in the myth of success we’ve been sold is that it gazed too exclusively and elevated too reflexively only one type of hero and one measure of achievement. The only way to be successful is to always push ahead. March forward! Reach higher! Get more! This advice is wrongheaded at best and dangerous at worst.”
In his post “Want Work That Brings You Meaning? Ask These 5 Questions” he says “Gallup has found that millennials and Gen Z, who now make up half the workforce, place their highest emphasis on work that values their wellbeing. Deloitte polled the same group and found that their #1 priority was good work/life balance. Yet another survey found that six in ten millennials believe meaningful work is more important to them than their parents.”
“. . . Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers, back in 1927, wrote in the Harvard Business Review,
"We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man's desires must overshadow his needs."
And thus began a new era in advertising—one that would seek to manipulate the masses not by providing goods required for life or happiness, but by manipulating their desires.”
His work on Becoming Minimalist is all about countering and shifting that cultural paradigm.
Another example is Anne Lamott’s commencement speech at UC Berkeley. She points out the unconscious or unspoken cultural paradigm we’ve been living by:
"I bet I'm beginning to make your parents really nervous -- here I am sort of bragging about being a dropout, and unemployable, and secretly making a pitch for you to follow your creative dreams, when what they want is for you to do well in your field, make them look good, and maybe also make a tiny fortune. But that is not your problem. Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are..."
“Today’s world is undergoing fundamental shift. The pandemic, the climate emergency, the mental health crisis, The Great Resignation, and the growing social divide are making it abundantly clear: business-as-usual no longer suffices. To thrive in this new reality, we need a new language, a new north star, a new framework for business and life.”
Their article “The Life-Centered Economy: Past, Present, and Future” is very good context and a worthwhile read.
After 50+ years, I’m still committed to and gratefully working toward co-creating a culture centered in Life Itself. I absolutely know we are “changing the world.” It’s just not in the way we imagined it back then.
Millennials and Gen Z’ers, thank you for being here with your life-aligned values! We have been waiting for you for a long, LONG time.