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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Self Reliance

The trend toward self reliance is growing in velocity and scope. This post is highlights of the shift that is becoming increasingly clear.
As I recall, we were taught at a young age to rely on others instead of ourselves – back in the old days:
  • parents set our limits and standards
  • teachers enforced the rules – insisted that we color within the lines
  • professors picked what we read, how we interpret it, and what to apply – to get our grade
  • employers specify the 'one right way' – thank you Frederick Taylor
  • community and peers guide how we conduct ourselves, even what we do for leisure activities.

We were indoctrinated to seek 'experts' for many things:
  • web designers for our public face
  • programmers to recreate the paper version in bits and bites
  • mechanic to decode and fix the car
  • doctors to 'fix' our health and ailments.

The paradox is while relying (depending?) on all these external elements, when doing leisure-time projects we benefited so much from hands-on learning and how to do it better from the mistakes.

Experience with my first soapbox derby racer showed me what to do differently next time (and next year's version was better and faster):
  • grease the wheels
  • boxy front is slower (air resistance), raked front cuts through the resistance better
  • adding weight equals slower speed – a steering wheel is cool, but a couple of ropes does the job at a third of the weight.

The experience taught me a process I've relied on since then:
concept > design > build > test > refine > deliver. I also learned to think beyond the specific goal to see how the external elements affect the project.

Individuals have found that large organizations, private and public, are not the safe fortresses we once thought them to be – missions are outdated, size is costly, jobs are replaced by technology, short-term management vision cause long-term negative effects, and many are dying, a shadow of past greatness, or gone – e.g., General Motors and Hostess Brands (twinkies).
If we cannot rely on the stalwarts of the past, what now? Many people have a fragile hope that they can exist in this situation, or could locate a similar role in a different organization. Following this dream is like the watering hole on the plains of Africa during a drought – each day the opportunity shrinks and there's no rain in sight.

More and more individuals are changing their approach, investing greater reliance on themselves instead of external entities. Indicators of the trend and the growing availability of powerful creative tools for individuals to use include:
  • greater involvement in DIY (do it yourself) activities
  • an explosion of entrepreneurs and kitchen-table ventures
  • more individuals working for themselves or collaborating with others
  • greater participation in your healthcare and being responsible for own health
  • chips became more powerful, so doing sophisticated things with your computer, tablet, smartphone became easier (not expert needed) – even 3D printing from your home computer
  • access to knowledge is virtually unlimited from the internet – now we are mastering filtering of information (rather than where to find it) and reading multiple authors with varying viewpoints for validation
  • blogging is personal publishing and has expanded into a living resume for professional individuals
  • Google Plus is a powerful acquisition and communications tool to connect to the world

Not everyone will be a Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), or Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google), but a significant number of people have taken off on their own. The interesting thing is, these self reliant trailblazers have better odds of success than the buyer of a PowerBall ticket has of winning the jackpot.



Want more about the new trend? Read Wikipedia - To Tell The Truth
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