Do you ever feel the grip of welfare economy patterns tightening around us? Even worse, do you notice a greater and greater acceptance of this phenomenon?
I'm typing this page to you tonight on a Dell computer. It is loaded with Microsoft software. I have access to other pages with just a key stroke. And this page will be read in a few hours by people in dozens of countries. People had a vision for something better. They sought out information to advance their skills and they built something that we all use everyday.
In this page, we'll feature another visionary person. I'll use call out boxes like the one just below this paragraph to present some quotes from Stephen Covey. His vision included helping people break through personal walls that held them back and then showing them how to lift themselves and those around them to new heights.
One of those walls that hold people back is common around the world. An entitlement mentality that breeds a welfare economy is present in far too many nations.
Norway has one of the biggest welfare systems in the world. Their massive oil industry pays for this overall program. But there are cracks appearing in that model.
"Approximately 600,000 Norwegians ... who should be part of the labor force are outside the labor force, because of welfare, pension issues," according to Siv Jensen, finance minister of that country. The Norwegians use the word "nave" to describe those who live off this welfare economy.
Norway has built a very large rainy day fund, but their economy has become nearly a one horse race. It is all about oil. Kongsberg Automotive has sent nearly 95% of their manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China and America. The company's CEO states, "In Norway, job security seems to be taken for granted, almost like it's a human right to have a job." He adds, "It's a bit discouraging that the sick leave in Norway is twice the level of other plants," And finally "That is to me an indication that something is not as it should be."
In America and other countries, employees are talking of more walkouts to protest wages they say cannot support them. They are demanding full time wages for jobs that were never intended to be full time positions. They seek pay commensurate with others who learned extra skills and worked very hard to advance to higher paying positions.
Fast food restaurants are great training grounds for young people seeking extra income. These jobs teach them basic skills to allow them to move up to higher paying jobs. And then the next group can move into their part time spots to learn the same basic skills.
In other countries in Europe, strikes and protests abound as nations try to rein in unsustainable public debt. Politicians who sold their countries down the road to bankruptcy with their welfare economy that kept them elected are now left with no solutions. Other than begging the European Union to bail them out. The trade off is facing up to the mistakes of the past.
In America we have generation after generation trapped in our own welfare economy. We pour money into programs overloaded with layers upon layers of government employees. Each layer siphons a little more out of the pot. In the end, not much changes and the cycle continues.
The welfare economy rolls along. Generation after generation just assumes this is how it is supposed to be. It is all they know. And we lose more opportunities and possibilities.
There is a solution. Stephen Covey laid out a great blueprint in his upward spiral. The last of his seven habits of highly effective people is often called "sharpening the saw."
Learn. Commit. Do. This is the crux of the final lesson from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Stephen Covey's personal development masterpiece is found in our list of classic books. Learn, commit, do.
Can you imagine what we could create if we replaced this entitlement mentality with a sense of personal responsibility? Instead of teaching our children to go out on strike, maybe we teach them to continue to learn more diverse skills. Instead of listening to rhetoric from politicians promising us more and greater "security", why don't we lead them to books written by entrepreneurs so they can create their own security?
Instead of sitting around waiting for someone to bail them out, why don't we encourage our children's curiosity and inner drive. Do you suppose Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or any other creator of life changing products spent their time bemoaning their fate?
What if they had chosen to just sit around and let someone else do it? What if they had taken the stance of being entitled to a government job followed by a pension as they retire at age 55?
Sharpening the saw means that we take a well rounded approach. We strive to learn something new each day. Learning doesn't end with a diploma. Times change and required skill sets change. Our new global economy will need newer, more advanced skills and products. It will not care how long you may have held your current job.
Age is not a roadblock to learning. We can all get better at new things. I have miles to go in the technology driven world. So much is still unknown to me. But if I take a look back, I can see how much I've learned in the past year. Learning does not discriminate against age.
Commit to doing something great. Can we instill that in our children? They watch what we do more than listen to what we say. So if we commit to doing something to make a difference, we can unleash a new wave of daring entrepreneurs.
Do. An action step. The final step in the process. At least the original process. But as we take these three steps in sharpening the saw, we will see something amazing. Here is some more information for you to consider.
As you learn new things, you'll be led to even more enlightenment. As you commit to more action, more people will follow you. And as you do more, more will come to you.
We have the tools at our disposal. We only pay once for a book. We get to keep the knowledge contained within them forever. We have the examples in front of us. Learn what they did, commit to make a positive difference and then do it.
This "learn, commit, do" synergy will lift up a wave of problem solvers and life changers.
A welfare economy that is strangling our world can be cut away with a sharpened saw.
Learn. Commit. Do.