Very often, during a conversation, an email exchange, or following a workshop, the question of “Now what?” comes to the forefront.
Usually in talking about motivation, morale, or in creating the conditions that will make our workplaces better, a participant in the conversation will desire advice on how to get people to care more.
The response is that the magic bullet store is out of business.
And it has been for a while.
The real issue is that the current systems we have for education of our children (school), getting money to adults in an exchange for labor (work), and in taking care of both the Earth (capitalism) and the people on it (healthcare), grew up over the last 100, 200 or 500 years.
And no amount of hand-wringing (“It’s just terrible that this is happening?”), or desiring it to be better (“Can’t we all just ‘get along’?”) is going to change those systems in real, meaningful ways in the world we are currently living in.
The systems as designed are the problem.
Who organized the systems and what they believed is a problem.
The outcomes that benefit a few people philosophically, emotionally, and even spiritually is the problem.
The response to this is not to get mad, give up, or just ignore the problems in the systems and hope that they go away.
Or that someone else will come along and save us from ourselves and put everything “right.”
The response is to act to put your own hands to the levers of the systems in the sphere of influence that you can control (family, work, community, finances, social life, etc.), and begin to intentionally, purposefully, and deliberately push the levers of change.
And to do so with winsomeness, kindness, and grace.
But to do it tenaciously.
Persuasion, conflict management, active listening, responding to advance the conversation rather than to advance yourself, engaging without judgment to pull allies to your side—these are all skills that can be learned, taught, and passed on hand-to-heart, generation-to-generation.
Until we are thriving in the systems that we want to have, individually and corporately.
If the prospect of doing even 1% of that is too daunting for you as an individual inside of your sphere of influence, then you should be asking not “Now what?” but “What is it that I really want to accomplish in this limited life I have now?”
Fortunately for all of us, we were born at the beginning of a revolution in human affairs, human systems, and human motivations.
And all revolutions are scary and destructive before they are enlightening and hopeful.
Look for work first, and the hope will come.