Have you been in the salad dressing aisle recently?
Let’s see, there are: Organic, Orange. Paul Newman, Paul Prudhomme. Annie, Amy. Nature Valley, Natural. Balsamic, aromatic, diabetic, gluten-free, fat-free…
On the other hand, let’s explore my mother’s choices – which were: French, Blue Cheese, Italian, Oil & Vinegar.
Thus, my darlings, has the world changed.
It used to be that women like my mother could choose careers like they chose salad dressings. If they wanted or needed to work “outside the home”, they got to choose between nursing, teaching or secretarial roles.
Simple? Yes. Straightforward? Uh huh. Opportunity to do as your wits and passion directed? Not so much.
Even today, with so many career options open to women, we struggle with work. Did you see the now-famous essay by Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic this week? Titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”, Slaughter explores the dynamics of professional success for women who want to be at the top, the unfulfilled promise of feminism, the gulf between the attitudes of men and those of women, and suggests that young, ambitious women freeze their eggs in their 20s in case they work too hard and miss the window of opportunity on their fertility.
Can we look at a bigger picture, my friends? A larger context to why there are so many anxious strivers out there, and why the workplace is hard for so many? Why, yes – let’s do! Here is the big picture context:
The world sneaked up on you and changed.
Sometimes you have to look back to really get a picture of the future. Cary Campbell Umhau, friend and founder of SPACIOUS, highlighted this interesting article on her Facebook page this week – Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade by Andy Crouch. And what’s changed the most? I’d lump all ten together and call it The Status Quo.
In my mother’s day, the majority got to dictate the status quo, and they determined – like salad dressings – that there would be one or two or maybe three ways to be “successful”. But now? As Crouch writes, there is no more majority – there were more “minority” babies born last year than “majority” babies. So what we have today is a minority majority. In fact, if no one is in the majority, then we are all minorities.
That’s a helluva shift.
And what does it mean?
It means the status quo we grew up with is gone.
And we all get to be much more agile, collaborate and create our own definition of success. Unlike my mother’s limited, status quo salad dressing choices, we face a wide array of possibilities…
And some people, and organizations are not aware of the change that has already happened.
Or are confused by it.
Invested in the past.
These organizations cling to the old status quo. They liked being the majority. It worked for them. They knew the rules. They had power.
But the rules have changed and continue to change. And those organizations will have to change, or die. We’re already seeing it happen with booksellers, camera stores, the travel industry, newspapers. Next to fall? Academia, insurers – anyone who relies on controlling information to generate revenue. Those barriers are leveling.
And where we’re going is faster, more collaborative, more streamlined, more niche – which is, when you think of it, reflective of needs of minority majorities.
Here’s a peek at the future. Right now, today, a kid is sitting with some friends in a room tweaking code that will change our lives in the next two years. She needs no permission, no credential, no template, no budget approval.
All she needs is an idea, and the oomph to see it through.
Maybe that’s the definition of our new and dynamic status quo, then: Embracing change. Valuing flexibility and agility. Collaboration. Being a part of the power of the minority majority. Limitless creation.
Those invested in the old status quo will lose. It’s just a matter of time. And those who embrace change, new definitions, new ways of being? They will truly have it all. On their terms. In ways that matter.
It’s time for you to let the old go to make room for the new. Even if it means change. Even if it means new rules or no rules. Even if it means you have to learn something new.
It’s time. Do it.
It. Will. Be. Worth. It.