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Egypt’s Revolution - A Reminder For Personal Development


Two months ago I wrote about the need for personal development while being redlined at work.  This redlining caused by dramatic upheaval in our internal and external environments, is turning up the heat driving many individuals to a personal tipping point.

And today, I like you am watching the events in the Middle East dramatically unfold.  Egyptians have redlined and have reached their tipping point.  While nothing is concrete, Egypt is in the midsts of revolution and it certainly seems that Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year reign is days if not hours from collapse.

No matter the outcome in Egypt, the Middle East and our world is in for even more change.  And the ripple affect of revolution will undoubtedly touch all of us and our businesses in a number of ways.  Reports are starting to surface of the impact we might feel.  For example:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports, that “international shippers are bracing for delays in the Suez Canel, a critical trade route, through which about 8% of global sea-borne trade makes it way.”
  • OPEC has said that there is a risk of an oil shortage if the Egyptian crises escalates, and we all know what that would do to prices at the pump.

John Chambers Personal DevelopmentUnusual Uncertainty
Now let’s rewind five months to last August, when on an earnings call with analysts, Cisco CEO John Chambers suggested that we find ourselves in a time of “unusual uncertainty.”  He was referring to the mixed economic outlook citing weak GDP, job creation and economic worries in Europe as headlining “a large number of mixed signals.”

Unusual uncertainty.  I think these two words capture very well, where we in business find ourselves.  There is a new normal, a normal of unusual uncertainty.  The unrest  in the streets of Cairo and the impact we will feel reinforce this unusual uncertainty that we find ourselves.

Together, the revolution in Egypt and John Chambers’ “unusual uncertainty” highlight what I believe is a fundamental truth:

No government, no union, no company can guarantee one’s security.  Security comes from confidence in one’s own skills.

Think about it!

From Revolution To Evolution
You and I, we can’t control the revolution in Egypt, the housing market, the deindustrialization of America, off shoring, fuel prices, employment figures, and all those macro issues that are the cause of unusual uncertainty.

But, what we can control - must control - is our ability to competePersonal development way forward and perform no matter the environment.  Again, No government, no union, no company can guarantee our security.  Security comes from confidence in one’s own skills.

We must continually be evolving our skills, capabilities and dare I say our competitiveness.

Unfortunately however, as they look to their own personal development, many find themselves faced with the need for a personal revolution.  They are out of work, underemployed, not fulfilled in what they are doing and they must develop themselves in a revolutionary fashion.  And look at Egypt - revolutions are not fun - today’s papers are reporting many in Egypt are “scared to death.”  Rightfully so, and our thoughts are with the Egyptian people.

Back here at home, I have talked to friends, colleagues, and others who are also frightened about their future.  Their industry and business is changing - some of which are going through a revolution.  Technology is making their once high paying job obsolete.  Their performance in better, more certain times was providing a level of security that was comforting.  But today that comfort has turned to unease, and that security to insecurity.

Paradoxically, they feel the pressure and need to do something different, but they are frozen with inaction because of the unusual uncertainty in which they find themselves.  The need for a personal revolution has them feeling trapped and unable to move forward.

Commitment To Evolution - Not Revolution
The good news is that you and I are in control of our future, even in times of uncertainty.      But to control that future of ours, we must remain in a constant state of growth and development.  The key relative to this growth is to be in a position of evolution rather than revolution.

  • Revolution suggests a radical and dramatic change.  Evolution suggests a steady and on-going adapting to one’s surroundings.  
  • Revolution is reactive.  Evolution is proactive.   
  • Revolution is crises oriented.  Evolution is strategic and thoughtful.

Start your evolution today.  Now is the time to:

  1. Do an inventory on your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to your ability to perform today and tomorrow.
  2. Look to the future and determine what new knowledge and capabilities will be required to thrive in your business and in your role in times of unusual uncertainty.
  3. Create a development plan to insure you are evolving, growing, and developing everyday.

And… commit to your personal development by continually evolving your skills - because in the end it is your ability and your ability alone that provides your security.


great analysis! I bet Mubarak is wishing now he would have evolved his system/method of governing over the last 30 years. anything to avoid the Revolution <crisis> they now face!!  
Very good analogy to the business climate we currently live. Must keep evolving or we will face a crisis sooner rather than later.
Posted @ Monday, January 31, 2011 12:43 PM by Al R
Very good Dirk. Nice job at making this global event relevant to even those in the heartland of America. I hope our "democracy" evolves enough to prevent this kind of revolution in our own streets.
Posted @ Monday, January 31, 2011 1:31 PM by Derek R
Dirk, Great analysis, This something we have just started doing with the Republican party in Lake County. Unusual uncetainty scares me to the bone. That is a great way of pointing out exactly the times we are living in. Americans do not seem worried right now, they should be. Our way of life is about to change.
Posted @ Monday, January 31, 2011 10:08 PM by Robert Cook
Dirk, a great book to understand where inner skills come from is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It's not the duration of life that matters; it's the donation of life that matters. Another great resource is "Love Is The Killer App" by the former CMO (and may still be) of Yahoo, Tim Sanders, and how he would wrestle $1mil+ deals away from Microsoft and Google when in a competitive situation.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 01, 2011 8:39 AM by John Haggard
Outstanding interpretation Dirk! Our country is not in a very good place these days and we need to identify that as Americans.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 01, 2011 1:32 PM by Dino Moran
Awesome. I love the revolution/evolution analysis. The idea of having proactive control over any situation, whether it's in business life or personal is such a feeling of both motivation and comfort. Thanks for this! Really gets me thinking...
Posted @ Thursday, February 03, 2011 11:26 AM by Karen
The peaceful demonstration in Egypt is a sign post that there's been an advancement in the internal evolution of it's people. Repressing expression leads to conflict; freedom of expression gives peace a chance. Honest communication is essential for achieving unity with simple agreement and acceptance.
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