Top 10 Items For A 21st
Skilled workers of every age have prized their tools. I recently visited
a Museum of Natural History and was amazed at the craftsmanship and precision
of the sextants and chronometers that allowed explorers to map our world in the
18th and 19th centuries. Such tools must have cost many years' wages for
the average person! I was reminded of how my Grandfather prized and
cared for the tools he used on his farm. I vividly remember his showing me
how to work a haybaler or oil the harness for his team of horses, tools from an
age that is long-gone. But it brings up the question: What are the
tools for our age, and what are the skills we will need to keep them
"sharp" and useful? I suggest the following tools for your
21st Century Toolbox:
- Extreme Self-Care: Just like early explorers took
extraordinary measures to protect their compass and sextant, keeping them
in beautifully finished wooden boxes, so in tomorrow's world we will need
to be well-oiled, rested, polished and precisely balanced.
- Response-Ability: In an earlier generation, a
farmer could experiment with new crops or buy a "new-fangled"
tractor over a period of several years. In the 21st Century, change
will occur daily, and the ability to respond instantly will be the
difference between success and total "crop failure."
- Resource Management: In the 1930's the American
Dust-bowl disaster was caused by a belief that the land was endless and
resources were boundless, so farmers destroyed the sod, laid bare the
land, and the wind simply blew it away. In the next century, the
most successful will be those who manage their resources and have the most
efficient reserves of creativity, time, space and energy.
- Character: My great-uncle was known for the
beautiful walking sticks he made by hand, carving them during the long
winter months. Each one was unique and they have become family
heirlooms. In the 21st century we won't leave our mark on wood or
stone nearly as often as we will leave our mark on the memories of those
who buy our products and services. But I expect the quality of our
character will show through just as clearly as the marks he carved into
those sticks testify to his patience, strength and dignity.
- Fence Mending: Robert Frost wrote a poem about
"mending wall", and said, "good fences make good
neighbors". For a thousand generations, that meant piling rock
upon rock, or stretching wire from post to post. In the 21st
century, the principle remains the same. Boundaries, roles and
responsibilities must be agreed upon, be clearly marked and be maintained.
- Simplicity: I once heard that until the end
of World War II, it was rare for any human being to eat anything that was
not raised and harvested within 25 miles of them. Ask anyone who lived
through the Depression if they remember the miracle of an orange, brought
by special shipment all the way from Florida, as a Christmas treat.
It happened once a year! In the 21st Century, those who achieve
extraordinary success will be those who, in the midst of clutter and
chaos, choose to simplify their lives, focus on their priorities, and
pursue their goals.
- Insatiable Curiosity: Something drove explorers to
risk falling off the edge of a "flat earth". The
"Mountain Men" (and women) explored the American frontier, and
every child asks, "Where do babies come from?" or the eternal,
basic question, "Why?" Curiosity will remain an essential
tool for the new age. It will drive some to look, listen,
experiment and learn new skills, while others will quickly be left behind.
- Risk Management: This is a 20th century term for
an ancient principle: Those who are too timid, get left behind,
while those who are too impulsive, usually die young. In the 21st
century, we will rarely face risks that are life-threatening, but those
with the ability to accurately assess the risks and potential rewards in a
new situation will flourish, while those who blindly resist change or
blindly run after every new fad will quickly fail.
- Contextual Creativity: My grandfather had no use for
"modern art". He scoffed at the luxury of throwing paint
at a canvas or using "gutter language" in poetry. For him
creativity was grafting a branch from a pear tree onto an apple tree, and
art meant growing more wheat per acre than any other farmer in the county.
In the 21st Century, the most valued creators will remain those who
can work with what lies at hand, and fashion something new and useful from
what others have discarded as old, familiar and useless.
- Lofty Aspirations: In every age, ambition counts
for something. During the Depression, there was no more devastating
allegation than that someone was "lazy." I remember my
Grandmother scoffing that a neighbor "will never amount to nothing,
he doesn't expect to!" Perhaps, in the new century, the most
important of all tools will be the expectation that we can succeed, that
we can contribute, that we can make a difference. Past generations
expected life to be difficult, but they also expected to endure and
overcome, and that expectation was tangible, it was as real as spring
after the winter, and it kept them going. Aspiration is a powerful
Whatever items you choose for
your personal toolbox, choose wisely! To make a living and provide value
to those around us, requires the ability to start with a vision, blend it with
skill, and produce a result that has value in the real world. Almost
always, whether it's the artist's paintbrush or the surgeon's scalpel, that
means using tools. Please consider these ten for your toolbox!
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Copyright 1999 by
Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. May be freely copied and distributed as
long as you include the following information:
Written by Dr
Philip E. Humbert, author, speaker and personal success coach. Dr Humbert
has hundreds of tips, tools and articles on his website that you can use for
YOUR success! It's a great resource! And, be sure to sign up for
his FREE newsletter! Visit him on the web at: http://www.philiphumbert.com"
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