I was fortunate enough to have grown up in what most would call an upper middle-class environment. I was blessed with two outstanding parents that provided for me and gave me the opportunity at a higher education as well as the freedom to make my own mistakes and my own decisions. They supported me when I failed, gave me help when I needed to get back on my feet and answered questions with an amazing skill of combining parental guidance and leadership. What I did or didn’t do with that education was my decision. I was a slow learner, my evaluation not others, because it took me time to realize that the important lesson was that life was about being there for others. Something I am trying hard to be better at doing.
Something I have learned over the past several months, and maybe this has been Gods way of opening my eyes to my failures, is that a lot of people in this country that are hurting. People that are not struggling to get the latest gadget or newest cell phone or car but people who are struggling to put food on the table and buy drinks for their family. People that are having to make decisions between buying gas to get to work and buying lunch. People that are not getting child support money because of government red tape. People that can’t pay for things they need because of medical bills from an unexpected illness and insurance was too expensive at work. Citizens of the United States of America, blue-collar hard-working people who are simply being left behind.
I have the good fortune to be able to get on my computer and write a blog. Even more importantly I have the ability to read and learn from many great leaders and people of influence. I read and discuss every day leadership concepts and theory. We talk about people skills, how to engage people more in their jobs to help productivity, the development of leaders and mentoring others to lead us and our businesses into the future. All of these are important things for business growth and the growth of our economy.
What we aren’t talking about are people who make up the foundation of business. The blue-collar regular man or woman who are the foundation of our country. People that purchase the products we are selling. People that are part of lower earnings results at retail giants like Wal*Mart and Target. People that are deciding it is more important to eat than buy extra school supplies for their kids or new clothing. People that want the opportunity to do more than just survive they want to thrive.
This is not a political blog. As far as I’m concerned politics is part of the problem and not part of the solution. My blogs have always been about people as is this one. Our economy and our national heritage is based on the foundation of opportunity. It is fueled by companies growing and earning more for its investors. That shouldn’t change. But it will change if we don’t give the workers of today a real opportunity to help the economy grow by consuming. Investment and growth should include people at all economic levels.
As leaders we feel stress every day because of decisions we need to make. I can tell you from experience it is not the same stress as wondering if I have food to feed my daughter. My ask is this; as you think about your next blog on people or leadership or the economy think past the leadership level to those that do the hands on work every day. If you were them what would you want to see changed? What opportunities would you like that they don’t have? What decisions would you make if you lived in their shoes? As a business what actions can we take to strengthen our foundation?
Despite what we may be told the large majority of people are not asking for handouts they are asking for an opportunity. People are proud and want to stand on their own. We need to strengthen our national foundation or it will collapse. We have the minds and skills to get that done if we make it a priority and take action. We can and should reward those that invest and earn their money. We should also find opportunities for those that want to be part of a strong foundation. Let’s not leave those people behind.