Here's a list of things that used to be a safe bet, the things that responsible people used to do:
- get good grades
- go to college, preferably a famous one
- get a job with a good benefits package
- buy a house
- squirrel away lots of money in your 401k
Here's a snap shot of where we sit now:
- the cost of a degree has increased 1200% in the past 30 years
- half of college graduates work jobs that don't require a degree
- 38% of them work jobs that don't even need a high school diploma
- the average college student graduates with over $28,000 in debt
- just since 2001, 42,400 factories have left the United States
- mortgage default rates continue to rise
- state and local governments are carrying $2 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities
The industrial dream is over. We can no longer get rich, or even make a decent living, by doing what we're told. That first list - it's broken. It's dead. It can't help you now.
We have no choice, we have to take back control of our lives, creatively and economically. Before the factories came, we were all farmers and artisans. We all ran our own businesses. We learned a skill, something that our community valued, and made a living exchange that value with others.
It took three generations for the industrialists to beat the creativity out of us. It wasn't easy, either. Henry Ford had a hard time getting farmers to sit in dark, dangerous, boring rooms for 10 hours a day.
He did it, though, and now we have to undo it. We need to re-teach our children that they can create value. We need to teach ourselves that lesson, too. We need to embrace a new "safe list", one that feels really risky to the industrialist within us.
This is the new safe list:
- find something you like to do
- do it in public, for free, for years
- share it with your friends
- form relationships with the people who show up
This group of people who love what you do, people you've built a relationship with - that's your new 401k. This group of people is called your tribe, and it's the best insurance you can have in a post-industrial economy. These people are happy to hear from you, delighted with what you make, and eager for more.
It's hard, yes, and it feels scary. I promise, though, that's only because we were all raised to think that we can't do it. It's not true, we can do it. We're made for this stuff. We're the most social and creative beings that have ever existed. This is what we're made for.