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2010: Turning Over a New Leaf

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What is the point of all your great efforts these past few years you may be asking? In 2009, it was enough to just hold on, keep your business or income afloat, and try to make it through each month. There wasn't a whole lot of growing to do unless you were one of the firms that grabbed onto the government's life line to be pulled out of the hole you put yourself in. For the rest of us, we are left to our own devices to pull ourselves out of the hole others left behind.

All the progress made in 2008 by motivated entrepreneurs and optimistic working folk was flushed down the old porcelain convenience post Lehman Brothers' collapse. 2009 was the year to hang on for dear life and hope you made it through. It was like standing on the Titanic watching all the Big Banks jump into the lifeboats leaving you two choices: sink or swim. If you managed to swim in 2009 and not get pulled down with the ship, you might be asking, what do I do now?

The New Year 2010 has begun and with it green shoots of Hope have sprung in the hearts of the resilient. Larry Summers, President O's Chief Economic Advisor, swears that "everyone agrees that the recession is over." Those words ring false for the millions upon millions whose incomes have been cut in half or completely wiped out, for the tens of millions more whose net worth is a fraction of 2007 values. For the millions of jobless or financially devastated who feel abandoned or forgotten, these words inspire rage and despair. Those left to their own resources without lifeboats over the past 16 months do not agree, Mr. Summers - the recession is not over, not for ordinary folks, not by a long shot.

So what is it all about, Alfie? What was the point of all that? Where do we go from here?

We muddle through the day to day financial stress trying to make sense of the senseless and nothing rings true except for old truths. We read about the need for financial regulation, the methods for resurrecting incomes, the possibilities of official guidance or support and all of it really means nothing in the face of the bigger truths. For all the menial, trivial, and hard reality of paying the bills, and creating value to stay alive, it all comes back to one thing: what is the meaning to your life?

Why are you or any of us here? What is this whole thing - life, liberty, financial ruin all about? These are the questions for millennia; these are the questions for the moment at hand.

I don't know the meaning to life if it is not to help others as we help ourselves to serve a higher purpose by making the world a better place. While that may be a deep truth, it will not necessarily pay the bills.

The question for 2010 then is how to do we make the world a better place, a world where human beings care for each other more than their wallets, where common folk are not left on the curb as "fat cats" step over their writhing bodies, where ordinary heroes rise up to take back the world they create every day in every way. When will the values of ordinary people who do the "right" thing consistently and without prompting reap earthly rewards for their humanity? Must we always be trumped by the overwhelming self-serving indifferent powers that be? How can we take the reins and ride our own way to freedom?

I ask all these questions of you, because I have been asking these of myself.

It can get pretty hopeless out here in the wasteland of the devastated American economy. I look around and see great misery and suffering, some of which the rest of the world has always known, but for my generation is new. What do I tell them, how do I bring them hope for a better future?

First of all, I want to remind everyone, even those facing homelessness and bankruptcy, it is never just about money. There is always a bigger picture.

Money makes the world go around only to a degree. It buys us food, shelter, clothing, perhaps medical care and education. Things we need to survive. But we already know it does not buy us love, nor does it buy us compassion, or sensitivity to the pain of others, nor relief from apathy. That comes from the heart. That comes from a greater place than cannot be explained easily in words.

So while you are going through your great financial challenges and hoping to pull yourself up from the boot straps for 2010, remember one thing: there is always a greater plan. This too shall pass and you will be once again back on your feet having learned important lessons along the way.

Remember too: it's only money. Money pays for your lifestyle, keeps you in your home and in the mainstream of the living. But it does not say who you are, no matter how much you have or don't. More importantly it does not reveal how you are inside, your heart, your mind, your soul. No matter what, you always have that.

Sometimes we think, I am so good, why is this happening to me? Haven't I done so much for so many, shouldn't I be rewarded for that? Yes, absolutely. And so we are rewarded every day for our good deeds in the warmth and support we give and receive from others. Not necessarily in monetary terms.

What does all of this have to do with Good Business and earning a living? Everything. That is what we cannot forget. We are not our bank books, portfolios, or careers. We are living breathing souls with Goodness on our side and a greater plan guiding us through it all. We can't forget that. The good don't always die young; sometimes they live to be very old like Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa. Financial reward is not necessarily in the picture.

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Monika Mitchell is the Chief Executive Officer of Good-b (Good Business International)a leading new media company xcelerating the movement for better business for a better world.
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