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21st Century Thinking

The Stark Reality

I often hear my clients lament that we are in a time of unparalleled change. Many are struggling with the unprecedented mind-boggling upheaval the world is in. Many have lost hope that things will get better any time soon. The world economy has been set on edge and has sent people scrambling for any advantage they can find to compete in the new world economy. In 1990, Charles Handy predicted in his book The Age of Unreason that “the status quo will no longer be the best way forward.” Now is the time for the wise to strategize over how to compete in today’s market realities. The reality stands that organizations which treat people as assets, requiring maintenance, love, and investment, will have a marked competitive edge over those who see their employees as cost centers to be reduced as needed. In 1986, a study by McKinsey’s Amsterdam office estimated that 80 percent of all jobs in 2000 would require cerebral skills, rather than manual skills and one-half of them would require a higher education to compete. The stark reality is that most people, for many different reasons, are beginning to find work outside the walls of traditional organizations by selling their time and services as a self-employed, part-time or temporary worker. The way business has been done is a dying breed. No longer can we expect to work 40 hours a week for 35 years and retire with the Gold Rolex.

What can be done to compete?

The only way to compete in the 21st century is to stop thinking like someone from the 19th century. What we find is the notion that those who continue to invest in themselves through learning are the ones whom will more effectively ride out the waves of change and are able to strategically anticipate future changes. During an economic downswing, competitive organizations will spend time re-tooling their organizations and its employees. Competitive individuals will likewise take time during a transition to learn and grow to compete. Change is not easy and will require the structure and accountability. The new economy for many will require a re-branding or reinventing of who they are.

I recently spoke with a friend who has been out of work for some time and the reality is setting in that to compete will require such a reinventing and a great deal of change. This kind of change requires a commitment and desire to change. For many the pain of changing is greater than the pain of staying put. To compete – we will have to get uncomfortable – learn new skills – take on new ideas and do things we have never thought of doing before or were too scared to try. Not everyone is ready to make such commitments and that is ok as long as they realize that the world is not going to wait for them. To effectively face change, one must understand their purpose and passion in life as well their core beliefs. Staying true to your core will help you navigate through the changes ahead. I spend a great deal of time facilitating effective change in organizations and their leaders. Organizations and leaders that desire to re-tool, re-think, and strategically plan to compete in the 21st century. If you’re ready to make significant, powerful changes in your life, please contact me today.


Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach and found of Maximum Change Inc. Taking Leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. He works with leaders to facilitate the development of  life purpose, life balance and achievement of greater success; encouraging leaders to take active and consistent steps toward reaching goals and objectives. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: philip.a.foster | (615) 216-5667

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