Friday, April 16, 2010

Make Work

Make work! The term sounds more like a honey-do than a principle to order your life around. That would, of course, be honey-do as in the spousal request or demand, not the melon. As I recently discovered, however, like all such terms, make work has several different meanings.

Grange and Kira @ Twin Rocks Trading Post.

As I was surfing through financial web sites the other day trying to decide whether America in general and Bluff specifically is in recession or out, inflating or deflating, prospering or regressing, I ran across an article entitled 21 Best Money Tips Ever. The title intrigued me, so I clicked on the link and began to read financial advice from captains and captainesses of industry.

For the most part, I found the stories somewhat trite or completely indecipherable. There was one, however, that resonated with me. It was by Joline Godfrey, CEO of Independent Means, an organization that teaches financial literacy to families and children. Having been raised in a trading post family, I was not sure I knew what financial literacy meant, but it seemed important, so I read on. Joline’s advice was, “Raise your children to make a job, not take a job.”

While it is true that I have rarely been employed by someone other than myself, I have often thought that may be because I am actually unemployable and as a result have been left to shift for myself. Until recently, I had not truly considered the possibility that my parents might have designed me that way.

Based upon the structural flaws I am intimately aware of, at this point I am not sure they designed me at all. Be that as it may, I am certain they did intend to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in all their children. Although they frequently deny paternity, there is incontrovertible evidence I am indeed their offspring, so I believe the tutelage was universal.

From a young age, I have been employed; first as a filling station attendant and now Indian trader and restauranteur. Indeed, I have been almost continuously working for the past 40 years. Which leads me to question, why my kids, at ten and almost 14, are still unemployed, and what do I teach them about jobs.

It is estimated that there are 29.6 million small businesses in the United States. In fact, those enterprises employ over half the country’s private sector workforce, hire 40% of high-tech workers, represent 97.3% of all exporters of goods, represent 99.7% of all employer firms and generate a majority of the innovations that come from American companies. So, it seems Ms. Godfrey is on firm ground advising us to make our own work.

People often ask whether our children will take over Twin Rocks Trading Post or Twin Rocks Cafe when they are old enough. “No!” Barry and I resoundingly reply. “Why not,” is the typical follow-up question. To which we really do not have an adequate response. Barry and I love the trading post, dealing with local artists and buying turquoise jewelry and Navajo baskets and rugs. We also genuinely enjoy the cafe, although mopping up after 10:00 p.m. is admittedly not much fun. So why don’t we want the kids to have the same experience? Wouldn’t working in the business unusual as turquoise mercenaries be fun for them too?

Young though they may be, McKale has expressed interest in working for NASA, currently Kira wants to be an astrophysicist and Grange thinks engineering might be exciting. I guess the answer to the question is that we want them to pursue their own passions, not ours. Maybe they will indeed start their own businesses and “shoot the moon.”

While times like these make us wonder whether we should be working in steady, predictable government jobs, with benefits, we know our passion lies in the art and people of the Four Corners and the Colorado Plateau. Besides, we both realize everybody already knows we would be terrible employees. Even I would not hire us, so we must make work.

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

No comments: