It used to be that a man married a lovely girl and got his job in a factory or office. For thirty years, his work brought in the family’s income and the health insurance while the lovely girl stayed at home and raised their adorable children. Then, the man retired, got his gold watch and went fishing.
Times have changed.
I recently listened to a segment of the NPR show “On Being” which featured 23 year old spoken word artist Sarah Kay. She’s just back from Australia, where she performed and taught throughout the country.
Did you hear that?
“Spoken word artist.”
In contrast, when my dad was 23, he was married with two kids and a third on the way – and wore a suit and a hat to the office every day. The idea of Australia probably never crossed his mind, let alone something called “NPR”. That a girl could be a spoken word artist and make a living would have been baffling.
Times have really changed.
And what’s changed the most are the possibilities.
A kid can have an idea in his dorm room (or drop out of college) and turn it into a billion dollar business:
A woman can be on a reality show and parlay that into subsequent lines of business:
Anyone named Kardashian. [I am not going to hyperlink anything to that name. I just...can't.]
It’s not only famous people who can take advantage of today’s possibilities.
People make money de-cluttering homes.
Artists have built sustainable revenue by selling their paintings online.
Using Skype, consultants can work with clients all over the world, while still managing to be at the bus stop to greet their kids at 3pm.
People have written books solely for the Kindle and ended up making decent money – and receiving book deal offers from traditional publishing houses.
Kids put videos of themselves singing on YouTube and go on to sell out stadiums.
Employees get laid off and start a whole new company.
A former White House staffer can reinvent herself and become a successful executive coach and writer.
Who would have ever thought it?
Yes, times have changed. And the new world of work is more flexible, adaptive and collaborative.
There are new rules, and new ways of being successful. Which can be a little challenging for folks who define “success” as having the same job for thirty years, with the hat and gold watch thing as mileposts. For these folks, it feels like the times have changed too fast, what happened to the rules, and can’t we turn back the clock?
The genie is out of the bottle.
And now that people can have flexibility and a good income, now that they can have satisfying work of their own creation, now that anyone can go from being employed to being freelance to being employed again, now that time and distance is no longer a barrier to business growth – now is the time to embrace the way the world has changed and adapt to its new work rhythm.
If you hold on to the old way of work, you will lose. Because we stand at a new point in the evolution of careers, with a promise that is huge, and bright. And wildly creative.
I am in. Totally in. How about you? You ready?