Back in 2009 after discovering that 40% of my friends were out of work and many weren’t doing anything to improve their skills or expand their network, I started regular meetings where I promoted the idea that even when you aren’t doing something for pay, do something anyway.
I created a website called No ShortageOfWork.com for that community. We published articles of interest to unemployed people and I interviewed many interesting people.
Over the years that website morphed into a journalistic endeavor and we stopped having meetings. Later I began publishing my writing in larger and more respected outlets.
Because maintaining the website and keeping it secure against hackers became such a burden I decided on April 28, 2016 to shut down that website. I’ve archived the stories and will probably republish them somewhere else eventually.
Here is the text “philosophy” page; I think you will find it interesting.
VISION – People naturally want to explore, learn, work, and teach. We can all do these things, even when there are no direct economic incentives providing motivation.
MISSION – To help people want to explore, learn, work, and teach – and to show them how to take control of their own motivating forces. To evolve from a one-person effort to a community of people who share a vision, and who help others enrich their lives.
PRINCIPLES – We want to stay true to our vision, allow the mission to change slowly and deliberately, and be flexible, creative, pro-active, and unafraid of experimentation when implementing our mission.
WE SERVE PEOPLE WHO ARE:
- Employers with no budget
- Afraid of losing their employment
- Students looking for work experience
- Returning to work
- Interested in being of use to others
- Interested in teaching or learning
- Ideas that can help change attitudes and approaches
- Articles that offer specific guidance and help
- Newsletter in which you can ask for help, or offer it
- Blog in which you can comment
- Social network where you can build a profile and meet other members (by invitation only)
NSoW promotes the idea that it is better to work for free than to not work at all. Of course, this is not always true, and there are minimum wage laws that prevent work without pay in certain circumstances. If you object to this idea, please consider reading this letter from Brooke (founder of NSoW) to some dear friends who question what we’re all about.
There is no shortage of work – An economy might not have enough jobs to go around, but this is because there aren’t enough employers with the resources to provide you with economic incentives to work. But there are plenty of things to do that will benefit others and yourself.
We’re all in this together – Our social, economic, and even personal problems are too big to solve by ourselves.
Not Altruism, but “enlightened other-interest” – Commerce is about meeting the needs of others. Before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations describing the “invisible hand” of self-interest, he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which discusses the reasons we should treat each other well. During periods of unemployment, NSoW wants you to help others, even if you are not paid, simply because being of value to others is a good way to spend your time. We are confident that, in the long-run, doing so will be in your self-interest because of your improved knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will make you more employable.
Time is an asset – Each of us owns the same number of hours in a day. Each of us can choose how to put that time to work, or choose to sell our time to another so they can choose how we will deploy our time. Time is always a wasting asset – if it isn’t used, it wastes away.
We live in a world of abundance – Actually, most of the people on the planet live with desperate shortages. But, if you are reading this, you probably live in a world of abundance… a part of the world with an obesity problem because of too much food, collapsing home prices because of too much construction, and a financial crisis because of too much money. Our problems are ones of motivation and allocation, not scarcity.
We own the means of our own production – During the Great Depression, most work was found on farms or in factories – which required capital, land, and machinery to be productive. Today, if you are reading this, you are likely to be a “knowledge worker” – or at least you qualify to be one because you possess a brain. You own the assets you need; you just need to put them to work.
Learn to ask for help – There are more people willing to help you than you think. During hard times, many enlightened people will work without pay for the education, experience, and sense of accomplishment.
Give something in return – If someone teaches you something, at least give them your attention and effort. If you put someone to work and cannot compensate them with money, do so with experience and education.
Pay it forward – It takes tremendous effort and expense to bring an adult to the point of being a net benefit to others. The world does not owe you a living as much as you owe the world a return on its investment in you.
If you want to learn something, commit to teach it – Teaching helps others, and it provides motivation to learn.
If you want to work, put others to work – Even if you haven’t the resources to employ others, why limit yourself only to those things you can accomplish by yourself? People crave meaningful work, so if you have a worthy mission, do not give up too early on finding others to share in its implementation.
Exploit opportunity – not people – Treat others as you would want to be treated. Ask, “What if everyone behaved like me?”
Let your conscience be your guide – And associate only with others with a conscience. (Beware, while institutions may have rules, and organizations may have a culture, only people have a conscience.)
Take the bull by the horns – Perhaps your circumstances are not ideal, and they may well be caused by politicians, the economy, or greedy businesspeople, and if you are doing something about those things, we applaud you. If not, what ARE you doing?
Reasonableness – “Amazing secrets” for becoming wealthy have no place here. No Shortage of Work is about common sense approaches to working and learning.