In the article,“Making it in America”, in the Atlantic, Adam Davidson writes about how to create and keep a job in our globalizing, mechanizing, economy. It’s a deep look at the impact of the shift to globalization and how “the rewards for being skilled grow, while the opportunities for unskilled Americans diminish.”
One of the passages really stood out for me:
“Productivity, in and of itself, is a remarkably good thing. Only through productivity growth can the average quality of human life improve. Because of higher agricultural productivity, we don’t all have to work in the fields to make enough food to eat. Because of higher industrial productivity, few of us need to work in factories to make the products we use. In theory, productivity growth should help nearly everyone in society. When one person can grow as much food or make as many car parts as 100 used to, prices should fall, which gives everyone in that society more purchasing power; we all become a littler richer. In the economic models, the benefits of productivity growth should not go just to the rich owners of capital. As workers become more productive, they should be able to demand higher salaries.”
It reminded me that the way forward, is not to go backward. It’s to embrace change and empower yourself with skill. Personal productivity is a powerful tool for surviving and thriving in a world where better, faster, cheaper is the name of the game.
In my experience, the key to productivity is to apply it to meaningful problems and to flow value along the way. To keep my own productivity in check, I use a guiding question: “Am I working on the right things, at the right time, with the right energy, the right way?” While the question itself doesn’t hold all the answers, it does hold the keys that help finding them.
When it comes to “making it,” I think productivity is one more lesson we learn from business that applies to life. It’s an area we can invest in for the rest of our life, for the best of our life. It never goes out of style.
Photo by Jane Rahman.