Regarding my earlier post, I finally saw Gravity last weekend, and the movie lived up to its billing. I’m not a big fan of 3D, but made an exception and wore my funky glasses to see the film leap off an IMAX screen. Wow! does not do justice to the experience.
As great as the cinematography was, however, it was not what impressed me most about the movie. The story did that. Gravity is a tale of determination, a narrative about facing challenges and refusing to give up.
Sandra Bullock’s character finds an inner resolve that we all have, but thankfully are seldom forced to use. At least that has been the case in the American workplace for most of our careers. Certainly, all of us faced obstacles from time-to-time – a biased boss, an employer in decline, a glass ceiling – but generally speaking, the trajectory of the American economy has been up, and like a rising tide, most of our boats went up with it.
Not any more. In today’s global marketplace, American employers and workers are being challenged as never before. We face unprecedented competition, disruptive change, and geo-political uncertainty. Suddenly, for the first time in our lives, there’s a nagging worry in the back of our minds: will our life be better than that of our parents and will our kids’ lives be better than ours? Has the American Dream become a hollow promise?
Gravity answers that question in archetypical American fashion. A single American astronaut lost in space demonstrates the courage, determination and never-give-up attitude that created this country in the first place. Does she have doubts, does she waver in the face of adversity? Of course, she’s human. But in the end, she’s also the descendant of American pioneers, of men and women who refused to be cowed into defeat.
It’s the perfect metaphor for a workplace and job market that seem as inhospitable as the airless expanse of space. Sustaining a career in such a harsh and unforgiving environment can be all but overwhelming. Certainty and predictability have been choked off, and safe harbors now seem to be little more than fragile outposts.
The new universe of work is a daunting challenge, not only to our wellbeing, but to our character as well. It can crumble our self-image and suffocate our belief in the future. Even in those moments that test our hope and optimism, however, we have a sure resource on which to draw. We Americans can prevail in this new frontier – we can not only survive but prosper – if we remember our heritage … if we stay true to who we are.
Thanks for reading,