This online magazine, The Borough, is all about innovation. But we don’t just want to innovate for innovation’s sake.
The world is changing around us. There have only been a handful of times throughout human history that worldwide paradigm shifts have taken place – the bronze age, the iron age, the Reformation, the industrial revolution, and so on. These are times when the entire way of life and way of thinking of all mankind has shifted due to massive societal changes.
We are currently in the middle of one of these paradigm shifts. You’ve heard it called many different things – the information age, the technological revolution, a global economy, etc. But it means that from top to bottom and back again, everything is changing.Change to the #middleclass has caused the disappearance of traditional #jobs. Click To Tweet
Here at The Borough, we face these changes head-on.
And today, we’re focusing on the economic changes in the American middle class.
The New Paradigm
There are two books which have identified and clarified this shift: The End Of Work – The Decline Of The Global Labor Force And The Dawn Of The Post-Market Era by Jeremy Rifkin and JOB SHIFT: How to Prosper in A Workplace Without Jobs by William Bridges
In a short summary, these authors describe the main change to the middle class being the disappearance of traditional jobs.
In the past, new technologies provided more jobs. New sectors had appeared to acquire all the displaced laborers when automation replaced workers. But in this age, we’re witnessing support nets for these jobs falling away in droves. Claude Whitmyer said it this way,
“Downsizing, outsourcing, and the use of temp workers; the total quality and re-engineering movements; the new emphasis on teams and individual empowerment; and, of course, technology, are all pushing us away from the notion of jobs as a static, stable career path and toward a more flexible reality of temporary job assignments based on the skills needed to do the tasks at hand.”
The three key sectors, agriculture, manufacturing, and service, are not finding ways to provide jobs anymore.
What it Means for Us in the Middle Class
These days, for us in the middle class, we’ve gotta be way more creative.
People don’t stay at their jobs for decades anymore, and businesses are adapting to that and protecting themselves from the consequences of it. So you have got to be ready for it, too.
We have to view our full-time career (if we even have one) as only a part of our work portfolio. We have to view ourselves as entrepreneurs of our own lives, finding ways to maximize our time, making the most of every opportunity for income, and sometimes forcing our way into success (not dishonestly or sinfully, of course, but with determination and hard work).
This means side-jobs, ad hoc or contracted work, running small businesses outside your normal 40 hours.
How to Deal With It
So there’s the problem, and most of us have not adapted yet. So how exactly do we deal with this paradigm shift? Here are a few techniques:
Purposefully build your network of relationships, understanding that any of these connections could one day be a client of yours.
- Focus on life-long learning and acquiring new skills so that you can always offer something more to the marketplace.
- NOTE: You gotta understand that this rarely means you have to go back to school. It means that you take every opportunity to learn, spend time reading, get mentored by someone, etc. It might even mean that you participate in a non-traditional form of school, such as the one written about in this article.
- Learn to recognize unmet needs in the community and in the marketplace so you can figure out ways to fill the niche.
- Comprehend how the changes in society are going to change your business, products, and strategies.
- Find ways to monetize doing what you love. If you don’t, you will exhaust yourself doing things you do not love.
- Understand that altruism and doing good in your community is often supported by different grants, tax breaks, and NGO’s.
A Spiritual Perspective for the Middle Class
Please hear me, though. The last thing I want to do is sound pessimistic about this paradigm shift.
Yes, it will be hard to deal with change, and this particular change is especially hard to adapt to, in my opinion.
But ultimately, as Christians, we have a promise from Jesus Himself in Matthew 6:25-34:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So yes, work your butt off to learn the all about the Zeitgeist, and how you can best prepare. But in the end, we’ve got to seek first God’s Kingdom, and we will have everything we need.
Because God is good no matter what we face.
Also published on Medium.