Thursday, December 9, 2021

Lessons from History


No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history. ~ Will & Ariel Durant

I began my day with a guided meditation from the Mindful Movement, breathing and listening to words that helped me create deeper relaxation and heightened my awareness of my body in the present moment. I was encouraged to shower myself with smiles of gratitude and self-love in a process of healing. It has been decades since I first engaged in meditation, then moving forward tentatively under the impression that I did not know what I was doing. Now I know everyone is unique and there is no right or wrong way and that people reach meditative states of consciousness through many diverse forms of practice. 

I facilitated basic meditation interactive workshops numerous times at professional counseling conferences, orchestrating processes like visualizations, chanting and breathing. (Handout) I have reached the conclusion that everyone who wants to participate effectively in the labor force, can benefit from embracing wellness practices. It seems to me that we do get a better understanding by looking at our personal evolution with openminded gentleness, balancing our personal acceptance with as positive a slant as possible.

I am in the first week facilitating the  December GCDF Training. The students are getting familiar with the learning platform. They are hearing it is my job to serve their needs and that I love doing it! The current  discussions revolve around policy, technology  and the history of workforce development, as an orientation to the 12 Core CareerDevelopment Competencies we will fully explore during the next three months.  

Well into my second decade instructing, first in classroom and fully online since 2009, my journey is now is about bringing the experience to an ever evolving level of Artistry. With a cadre of other instructors that have refined their delivery over the years, we bring in the latest concepts with significant diversity of thought and share in the joy of receiving incredible appreciation for our efforts.

I give a lot of time to this endeavor because I believe practitioners and those they serve have a need to feel worthwhile and be productive. Everyone has a unique set of values, interests, aptitudes and skills and logically will be most successful doing work they truly love. When people are on a healthy path that fits who they are, they will embrace education and training, accept words from mentors, experience hope, be motivated and become empowered to explore levels of excellence. They will find and be proud of their own personal expression of engagement.  We provide services to meet the needs of career and workforce development professionals so that they can deliver services to those they serve. Is not helping people experience truly worthwhile employment at a decent rate of pay a very noble endeavor?

In addition to the group public discussions, during the first week students are introduced to their personal Blog, a place to electronically keep a diary or journal of their thoughts as they engage. Keeping track as life unfolds provides a written history that helps us understand our world, ourselves, others, change, society, and the decision making process. All of this helps us better appreciate our personal evolution. There are tools available to engage every possible learning style.  Throughout the training I will share exerts from my current online Blog, Employment Counseling for the 21st Century.

I have encountered academics spouting the belief that a scientific research resource becomes obsolete within 5 years.  I ask them if they really mean that is only possibly true when new information has “proven” that the thoughts and conclusions in the older documents are no longer accepted universally as correct knowledge. Especially today, we need to understand the past and explore sources of information and understand lateral reading. Education is gift worth opening with a critical eye, as often as possible when opportunities are presented along our path. Whatever we choose to pursue, it is just a lot more fun when we reach the higher levels of achievement and success.

This is one of the best online training courses I've ever taken. You are an amazing instructor, coach, professor. I enjoyed your wonderful stories, your experience and history. I appreciate the varies different speakers along with everyone's feedback and perspective. … I'm more seasoned in many areas. Thank you Michael for such a great opportunity for us all in this course and making this experience wonderful and memorable. ~ Treniska  Bonner 2021 GCDF Graduate

Monday, April 19, 2021

In Search of the Truth

Fake News is believed by most to be a deliberate distortion or fabrication of information spread by media or social network sources. Propaganda is often viewed as bias or misleading information generated to promote or publicize a particular political idea. Marketing on the other hand is more accepted in the mainstream. Portrayed as scientifically based with the possibility of earning Degrees through higher education, it is generally described as the study of methods and strategies to put products and services in the hands of consumers. All three are about persuading people to accept particular points of view.  All three have been discussed in terms of ethics. While fake news and propaganda by nature tend to be regarded as amoral, marketing actually has a federal law that says that “ an ad must be truthful, not misleading, and when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.” FTC Truth in Advertising.

The Internet, advancing Technology and social media have complicated the picture. In the 21st century just about anybody can publish and disseminate their point of view and actually in fairly sophisticated fashion. As consumers of information in the digital information age, we get to choose what we want to believe and what we want to see and now there are algorithms to help us.  Basically they are  processes or rule-sets that are programmed into computers to solve problems. While physicists and scientists and other professionals use them to facilitate solving a multitude of technical issues, browsers and social media platforms use them to determine our preferences. Be assured, your political preferences and buying habits are very quickly determined and you will receive “marketing” to extract your vote and money. Of course it is comforting to receive confirmation that our beliefs are correct and it is nice to get our product desires fulfilled with greater speed.  But, we also know that some of those selling ideas or  products or services, will sometimes mislead. 

We are all unique and we all have our own personal beliefs and core values we have acquired through life experience. The vast majority of us also have a personal smart phone with an extensive library of information. However, too many do not explore Lateral Reading. In essence, rather than fully engaging by taking a deep dive into every aspect of an article, a website, or any “marketing pitch” we find online, we instead choose to become fact checkers. We open another window and search for opposing points of views. We check the validity of the information as it is being presented by scanning other websites and research sources or reviews, to get additional opinions. The process helps us understand, providing other interpretations to help us determine if we are consuming fake news, propaganda, a marketing campaign or well researched and fairly reliable sources of factual truth. Student Fact Checkers is well worth exploring. . 

Added to the mix, are “scientific facts” and “academic research” which are reported over and over again, becoming mainstream beliefs,  until the day when new information unveils a new understanding and we come to a realization that perhaps we have been wrong! Unfortunately, far too many people in the world of Career Development and Employment Counseling have become stagnant, operating with outdated information. 

In Working Ahead, Moving Forward™, NECA’s GCDF Training, we explore concepts from many different directions in an attempt to elevate consciousness. We move beyond the delivery of “text book” education and explore thoughts that are needed to be successful in the 21st Century. We customize the training to the needs of each student as they participate and continually elicit “ah ha moments,” a sudden, more expanded understanding. Clearly in the 21st Century with an abundance of information coming from many different directions, we are all challenged to not only adopt a commitment  to ongoing education, but to continually evaluate what we are choosing to believe. 

When it comes to the future of work, “late adopter” is the same thing as “out of business.” ~   Jacob Morgan

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Resilience and Renewal, the Promise of a New Year!

  “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards

2020 provided a quite incredible ending to the first decade of the 21st Century. It was far more than protests and demonstrations reaching alarming heights, coming from many directions, while a shift in national politics was unfolding. The Worldwide Pandemic unleashed a flood of accelerating Trends within an evolving Universe and the unfolding of the Labor Market. While buying products online and long distance electronic communications were already on the rise, they were both accelerated dramatically with the shutdown of many storefront operations and the growth of significant domestic sequestration. The “official” unemployment rate shot up from a pre-COVID February number around 3.5% to a whopping 14.7% during April and even at the end of the year was still over double the early year numbers, hovering around 6.7%. Of course, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts those in the labor force which they defined as people who have looked for a job in the last four weeks. The real unemployment rate according to TheBalance, a part of the publishing family, offers calculations that include the underemployed, marginally attached and discouraged workers. They reported a 22.8% rate at the April height and an end of year rate still hovering around 12%.

Last summer on 60 Minutes, Taiwanese-born American Educated computer scientist Dr. Kai-Fu Lee explained how Artificial Intelligence will continue to replace repetitive functions on jobs, making the rather startling statistic of a loss at “40% of Jobs Worldwide during the next 15 years. “ Dr. Lee’s doctoral dissertation was about a computer speech recognition system. He worked as an executive with Apple, Silicon Graphics, Microsoft and Google on way to launching Beijing based Sinovation Ventures.  His latest book is “AI Super-powers China, Silicon Valley, New World Order.” 

As businesses were scrambling to survive the loss of COVID 19 sequestered employees and customers,  Time ran the story, “Millions of Americans Have Lost Jobs in the Pandemic – And Robots and AI Are Replacing Them Faster Than Ever.” 

Manufacturing is still alive and has been showing growth in the US Economy, but it is not because of returning employers that left for a less expensive 3rd world unskilled labor force. To function in a high wage country, factories must be high tech and employees are no longer laborers with low education. Employers are advertising for people with”

  •   Knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering processes
  •   Ability to work with computerized systems
  •   Ability to read and write machine programming code
  •   Ability to read manufacturing blueprints
  •   Ability to operate automated manufacturing systems
  •   Understanding of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical systems


Employment and Career Development Counseling most certainly will be in demand  as the economy continues to evolve. While there is a flood of high tech options entering human consciousness, the draconian scenario of being overrun by superior androids, are not predicted by respectable computer scientists as part of the near future.  AI is great at collecting and analyzing huge amounts of data and able to make predictions about human behavior (what we are likely to look at and perhaps buy). But computers do not have emotions or feeling, cannot experience empathy and really are not creative.

As counselors we listen to the stories of those we serve and help them reframe their perceptions into healthier approaches of interacting with the universe. Of course we can appreciate the evolving technology, as available tools to help us provide the best possible information. Because it is our trade we have the experience navigating career and employment systems and can facilitate an easier journey for our customers. Traditionally employment counseling has been described as Choice, Change or Adjustment. We help people find their optimum path, make decisions about what they want to do. Sometimes they are in transition, needing a new job or training to move in a different career direction. Sometimes the conversations are about behavioral modifications or attitude adjustments to function better, stay employed, and grow positively within an organization.

To take our profession to a level of artistry, I believe we need to understand labor market trends, make a commitment to life long learning, and associate with people who are embracing optimistic and healthy expressions of existence. Fundamentally however, at the heart of counseling is an ability to deliver kindness with unconditional positive regard. We feel the energy when we touch a soul and know when we are truly engaged in healing.

There is an incredible amount of work to be done and new opportunities are continually emerging. We choose our sources of information and together we are all contributing to the ongoing evolution of the universe.

Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.                                                          ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin