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Observations from the World of Business — What People Are Thinking


27Jan 2011

Given that I  meet with business owners, leaders of non-profit organizations, as well as front-line workers from across the country, I have the opportunity to “take the pulse” of what people are thinking and feeling in the world of work.  I thought I’d share some of my impressions.

  • Less sheer fear and panic. Overall, there seems to be a reduced sense of overwhelming fear and panic about the economy continuing to tank (like there was 12-18 months ago).  There is still a low level of fear and anxiety, the pure panic has resided.
  • Cautious hope. This is not the same as cautious optimism.  I am not hearing that many people are optimistic about the future — not yet.  There are still too many unknowns, as well as large problems that need to be addressed.  But they do have hope that things will continue to get better.
  • An acceptance that “life is tough”. People seem to be coming to the realization that life (and success) is not easy.  At least in the circles I am running, the entitlement mentality seems to be waning.  There is less whining and more “we are doing what we have to” to make ends meet.
  • Less blame, more personal responsibility. Early on, during and after the initial months of the financial crisis, there was a lot of anger — anger towards bankers, governmental agencies, political leaders, the other political party, etc.  Now, and I think partially due to the length the recovery is taking, people are starting to realize:  “It doesn’t really matter how we got here.  If I am going to improve my situation, I am going to have to do something about it.”
  • Long-term recovery. There clearly is the expectation that it is going to take a long time (years, not months) for our economic situation to improve.  No one is expecting a quick fix.  And some believe that life may not get back to previous economic standards for any time in the foreseeable future.
  • Underlying anxiety. People continue to have an underlying anxiety that something bad may happen (terrorist attack, geopolitical meltdown, another specific financial crisis) that will cause our economy (and possibly the world’s) to unravel.  The level of this anxiety varies greatly, from mild to paranoia.

I’d be interested in hearing if these match your perceptions or if you are hearing things different on the streets.

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