Build Your Leaders

I Want Your Opinion

March 28th, 2010

Is a shift taking place? As you may know, I am working on my third book: Becoming: A Seeker’s Guide to Answering Life’s Two Most Important Questions. The premise of this book is simple: who you become and the life you live are shaped by what you focus on, and what you focus on is determined by that which holds the most value to you. I believe—in fact, I know—that nothing is more important than connection (connection to self, others, and higher power/purpose) and contribution. By making these two “Cs” your primary focus, you’ll become your best self and live your best life.

In the book, I explain that we’re experiencing a shift in values. Below is a short description of how I see this shift. Would you please take a minute to read it and answer the two questions that appear at the end?

The Great Values Shift

You may be feeling unsettled, but you may not be sure why. You are not alone. We are all sensing that a change is taking place, and change makes us uneasy. This unsettled feeling is mostly unconscious; few of us are able to articulate it. Yet it is very real.

The world is calling us to reexamine the way we look at things, to define our priorities, and to shift our values from materialism to meaning. It’s been called many names, including “post-materialism,” “the fourth great awakening,” and “the Age of Aquarius.”  I call it “The Great Values Shift.”

Values shifts have occurred throughout history. When these shifts occur, a social issue often gives birth to a movement. For example, we’ve seen women’s rights and environmental awareness give birth to movements that impact how we see ourselves and how we live our lives.

Today, “the new economy” is forcing change. Don’t look to the mainstream press for information; you won’t find much. But know that the issue is bubbling and boiling under the surface; it’s just a matter of time before it flows—rather than seeps—into our everyday consciousness.

While many factors contribute to this shift, two seem particularly relevant. First, the economy has forced many people to reevaluate their priorities. Job loss—or in many young people’s cases, the inability to find jobs—declining investments, and devastating debt are challenging many of us to reexamine our definition of success.

Second, each generation—for different reasons—is questioning the work ethic in this country.

The country’s eighty-five million baby boomers are aging. In the second half of their lives, they are becoming hyper-aware of their mortality and are becoming more introspective. Many are seeking increased meaning in their work and lives.

The forty-four to fifty million Americans born between 1965 and 1980, who make up Generation X, generally disdain authority and structured work hours and seek work-life balance. This generation works to live rather than lives to work.

Finally, the seventy-six million members of Generation Y feel that the line between work and home is nonexistent. These twenty-somethings want to spend their time in meaningful and useful ways, no matter where they are. For example, more than half of workers in their twenties prefer employment at companies that provide volunteer opportunities, according to a Deloitte survey.

Many of us are beginning to wake up to the realization that at the end of our days, it won’t be the number of cars we have in the carport that defines our lives, but the people we have loved, and who have loved us. We’ll feel good about our lives because we know we’ve been of service, and we’ll feel proud of how we’ve lived our lives.


One:  Do you feel there is a values shift taking place? Why or why not?

Two:  If so, would you share a story or quote about how “The Great Values Shift” is affecting you and/or your family and friends personally?

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3 Responses to “I Want Your Opinion”

  1. Adair says:

    1. I definitely feel there is a values shift taking place! Thanks for making me feel “normal” as I look over the last five years to see that it’s really OK that I have: quit a job, started my own business, gone back to work, gotten laid off and taught in four schools in four semesters. I am a living example of this shift because I am constantly searching for meaning in my j-o-b as a teacher and in my own business as a speaker and author.

    2. I feel the values shift as I oscillate between feeling “stuck” in my teaching job because of the poor economy and my own personal nervousness about not having a stable income and benefits, and the overwhelming desire to throw caution to the wind and do what I love.

    This values shift has awakened my husband and I to the importance of finding balance between financial security and following our passion (he’s a musician). We have learned a lot of challenging lessons over the last four years, but they have strengthened our relationship and our love for one another.

    Sometimes I see myself as being scattered and “all over the place” especially with my career, so knowing this values shift is taking place helps me feel OK about where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going.

  2. Patricia says:

    Such truth! I have been a driven, ambitious, and successful entrepreneur for two decades and 6 months ago I heard my entire being say, “Stop. Rest for a while. Go inward. Wait until the dust settles and you let go of your old ways of “doing” life and work. Wait until you are compelled to action from your deepest, most personal passion to serve.”

    I feel like I’m in sporadic labor – sometimes still, serene and excited for the new life coming, sometimes tempted to push in my old way, to force the world to see my radical views and accept my “help”. I breathe through it and KNOW I cannot “do” my work in the same way that brought me success and exhaustion in the past – by the force of my will and my personality. I sometimes feel fear as my personality gives way to presence and I wonder if I will ever engage fully in the outer world and contribute again. I also know what precious energy is wasted when we try hard to “make it happen” from a place of fear and need.

    I do believe this values shift is requiring each of us to shift what we are offering, how we are offering it and how we are present to ourselves and in the world. For those of us who charged ahead believing we could make anything happen by will and work, it is time to sit back and wait for the wave and the flow.

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