Thomas Friedman is perhaps the most recognized and respected columnist of our time. His twice a week columns in the New York Times should never be missed by those in business or those just concerned about geo-political happenings in our world. His books should be on everyone’s “must read” list as they may be strategic plans for survival in the early 21st century. Take a look at last Wednesday’s column and you will understand exactly what I mean.
Although not as political as most NYT opinion page writers, he does have some advice for President Obama for his second term. He suggests a slight expansion in his “Yes We Can” slogan. We all need to begin to hear “Yes You Can” and “Yes You Must” if individuals are going to stay ahead of the game in our rapidly changing economic environment. Friedman talks about the hyper-connectivity of the world and the marketplace and then suggests it is incredibly important to be constantly learning and changing along with the technology. His comment on how education in the past gave you a foundation for your entire career, but today it may merely be a starting point for lifetime learning, should be really taken to heart.
Perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking part of the article is when Friedman talks about the inequality of today’s workplace. As the economy has improved over the last four years and the stock market has more than doubled, there has been an increase in the inequality in the recovery. Some people are doing quite well but an increasing number are not. A major theory has been broken apart. In the past when the economy got better and productivity improved everyone seemed to benefit. Everyone was elevated with the tide. Today there seems to be a divide happening, perhaps driven by this hyper-connectivity and technological explosion. The divide seems to be between those who have kept up, constantly changed and rode the trends of the new economy and those who have not. Those that have not kept up seem or at least appear to be so much more backward and mediocre. In the past you didn’t need to be cutting edge to survive as there was much more need for a loyal, better than average worker. This doesn’t seem to be the case today.
The news is not all bleak in that Friedman also lays out a path for individual change. What is needed today is something much more than IQ. The Friedman theory is that success and failure may be determined by PQ, the passion quotient, and CQ, the curiosity quotient. Passion is all about how much you care and how much you want something. It is about your drive and motivation. Your willingness to put yourself out there for something you truly believe in. Curiosity is a different trait. This is all about your thirst for learning. Your desire to grow every day and constantly stay abreast with the latest technology and latest thinking in your field. Friedman talks about lifetime learning.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Friedman theory is that it talks about things that can be changed, that can be worked on daily. IQ is something that is kind of fixed, right? PQ and CQ seem to be things that can be grown constantly. What is your “learning” plan for this year? The good news is so much of this can actually be done for free. Do you use iTunes U on your iPad? When was the last time you searched and read for 3 or 4 hours on the Internet on topics such as Accountable Care Organizations or the Affordable Care Act and its impact on PBMs? In other words going beyond just a quick look. What was the last lecture you attended not organized by your work? How are you keeping up with technology?
The interesting thing about PQ and CQ is that they seem to be interrelated in some way. The more you grow one the more it stimulates the other and vice versa. Passion leads to curiosity that leads to learning that leads to more passion. Just the process is both uplifting and stimulating if you are in the right place. The results of this work go beyond getting another diploma as they are visible everyday and in everything you do. Try it out.