Getting Ahead and Social Capital

Today I spent the day in a workshop about Getting Ahead sponsored by Boulder County and specifically focused on helping those in poverty. The ideas shared not only fit for those is poverty but also for those in the middle class that work lots of hours and make just enough to get by on. The difference in wages between the workers and the CEO’s has skyrocketed. In 1980 the differences were around 42%. In 2000 the differences were 531% and the past 8 years has seen those numbers continue to grow at a rate that is outrageous.

My point is that there is lots of wealth in our nation. Unfortunately, that wealth is concentrated in the upper 5%, those with the highest incomes. Wealth is a good thing but it has through legislation and tax breaks gotten so skewed. These laws and tax breaks need to be adjusted or the middle class will be gone and this poverty workshop will be for me and the rest of us. Yes change is needed here soon if our country is to return to its potential.

The workshop provided some interesting ideas. One that stands out is that when we are in difficult times, all of our focus is on survival (food, water, shelter, bills, health etc) and we have no time to think about or plan for a better life. The concrete mind is busy taking care of needs and unable to think about the future, about plans to make things better, about the quality of life we want and how to make it happen. To do that planning and imagining, we need to be able to think abstractly. Survival mode is just doing what it takes. Getting out of the cycle of chaos and worry takes time to think and to explore other possibilities.

Where are you stuck and not moving onward? Have you gotten buried in debt and can’t seem to get out? Are you worried and struggling to meet your needs? If you are, you have to take time to plan, to imagine, to research, to take actions that will make it possible for you to leave the troubled times behind.

Another interesting idea is that your social capital may be the best help for you to move up to the level you want to live. Social capital is the relationships you have with people who have the ability to assist you in moving toward the life you want.

People who are connectors have lots of social capital. The rest of us need to build that capital so we can make the important contacts, find the inroads, and work with those that take us higher.

As I write this about social capital I think of not only contacts for jobs and opportunities but also people who can help develop those aspect of ourselves we wish to nurture. Examples of this would include: spiritually wise people who could help us evolve our spirit; fitness expert to help improve our health; coaches that can assist us in being more effective and others who can support and encourage our best.

Who do you hang out with? Do you nurture your contacts or not even think about this as a way to open up new opportunities? The bigger the network you create the more resources you will have available.

I don’t know about you but I have struggled in social setting and places where I know I “should” reach out and meet more people. My mind too often goes blank when I am “shoulding” on myself. When I see it as my job to interact it sometimes seems easier. I find this social struggle very interesting since I talk to people easily every day as a counselor about significant issues.

I am rambling on today. The workshop got me thinking and that is good. The more stimulated our minds are the better.