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End of the world… or a chance to hit the ‘Reset’ button?BadConsultant has been observing and listening hard over the past few months. Economic downturn became crisis became catastrophe became disaster became bailout became… Well, you get the picture.

[and are likely living the picture]

And much as it’s been painful to watch the sob stories and human impact of the crisis

[it must have been sooooooo hard for the auto-maker leadership to have had to ditch the corporate jets, after all]

we’ve begun to notice two common refrains.

  1. The ‘doom is now’ troupe – for whom this is just about the end of the world.
  2. The ‘unflappable optimists’ – who just don’t seem capable of being shaken out of their belief that now is a period of unprecedented opportunity.

We had thought that this was a function of the presidential election, especially number 2. But as time’s gone on, we have to wonder whether there is a wider and deeper zeitgeist going on

[Zeitgeist – great movie]

that Mr Obama has tapped into and accelerated?

And, observing all this, we have to wonder whether this is actually a period of transcendence for long-standing institutions. Not the banks. Not the capitalist machine. But instead the institutions that we all take for granted. Like:

  • What does it mean to strive – what are you striving for?
  • What is enough?
  • What is success?
  • What is happiness?

These are big questions, yet they are simple questions.

[Big and simple – like old people’s undergarments]

And we got to thinking about them because the #2’s above seem to base their optimism on the fact that tomorrow might be different and that that is a good thing. Whereas for the #1’s, everything they have taken for granted has been stripped away in a matter of months, nearly overnight; they’ve lost…

  • the career conveyer-belt
  • the promise of rewards later for sacrifice now
  • the trust that compromise on personal values and ideals is worth it in the long-run

And we wonder why they feel like the world is coming to an end.

So, as you share your jobinions, think about the optimists – and what your company is doing (or has done) to create a culture that encourages people not to live in fear of the gravy train coming to an end but instead to embrace the glorious risk, exhilaration and excitement of grabbing opportunity and running with it – to pursue purpose, meaning and goodness every day – and ultimately, to seek happiness at work.