The Change Equation – Candle Makers

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
Theodore Roosevelt

Work!  We need to work.  We define our lives by what we do, how we participate and by our lasting contribution to our families, communities and even future generations.  Notwithstanding those moments when we would love to exchange the “rat-race” for an extended exotic holiday, we want to be employed in something meaningful. Whether we call it a career, labour, grindstone, we are at a loss once we no longer have that option.  Work allows us to make a living, purchase a decent life that bestows stability, shelter and a place to fulfill our individual potential.

Imagine the candle maker industry’s initial response to the appearance of light bulb technology: It will never catch on.  Too expensive! Only the rich people can afford electricity. It’s dangerous. The world will always need candles.  History bears witness to the dedication of candle makers in advancing the art of candle making, even as they battled new technology on two fronts: the light bulb and the a distillation of  kerosene. Fast forward to the present! Recently, I dropped by my local drugstore and found the checkout area in utter chaos.  Instead of eight, there were only three cashiers left.  A week later, I was introduced to a “do it yourself” automated checkout that processed my purchases with elegant efficiency.

Change within the work environment strikes at our ability to be self-sufficient.   We seek ways in which to predict the types and variety of future jobs to guide our educational decisions. We allocate personal resources to increase our marketability and establish a network of colleagues.  Instinctively, we sense the subtleties within our workplace; we anticipate and muster our resources to respond to changes effectively and creatively.

And so we come to our change equation, which has been transformed once again, thanks to the flow of amazing comments that inspires this conversation.  Leaping Tracks added infinity to the equation which goes hand in hand with Richhell’s comment about our ceaseless adaptations within the work environment.

No + time = Yes = Movement = More Movement = Infinity

Technology, whether in the form of a light bulb or an automated checkout, moves forward simply because we have an amazing capacity to embrace new ideas and opportunities.  We instigate transformation, even as we struggle to integrate it within our personal career choices.  Yet, it is our remarkable capacity for optimism that keeps us determined to achieve, to learn, to grow as we continue to engage in the next movement.

Next post:  Our community and the alphabet!

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Photos: The North Vancouver Shipyard – Once the Lower Mainland’s Major Employer

79 thoughts on “The Change Equation – Candle Makers

  1. What a fascinating picture of those men – they ‘re all wearing hats – not one bare head… so another profession bites the dust, the hatters have to adapt…
    I think the young have the advantage when it comes to adapting, quite apart from the fact that they won’t be worrying about how to feed their families as they find a way to adapt…and find another job in a world where there aren’t many….

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    • I remember when men would never leave the house without a hat! And for women, there were those lovely gloves to match their hats. I agree that young people do have the advantage because of they have been in knowledge acquisition mode that prepares them for transition. (If we could always learn as fast a toddler – wouldn’t that be life-changing). As I grow older, I recognize that practice does not make perfect; rather, practice makes permanent. If I fight against the inevitable, if I refuse to look at alternative possibilities – I simply forget how to transition. Valerie, my friend, you have me thinking about an entire new post….you always give joy to any discussion.

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  2. Thank you for the shoutout. Glad I could contribute to the discussion.

    “We define our lives by what we do, how we participate and by our lasting contribution to our families, communities and even future generations.” True. Which I think is why changes at work are so stressful. Any change is disruptive. At work, change can appear to be not just disruptive but as a threat to our very livelihood, ala the candlemakers.

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    • So very true! Whenever there are layoffs, it only counts the person who has received the layoff notice. That person represents a family. When I entered the workforce, it was not uncommon for people to stay at one job for 35 years – this is no longer a reality. We live in interesting times. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas – much appreciated!!!

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  3. This is a very insightful post . I remember when a man could support a family , I remember when a woman could choose to work . Now a man and a woman both have to work and there are not enough jobs for either . You’ve given a good history lesson here . I like your equations and your positive outlook 🙂

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  4. Ah, yes, I too admire the inventors, the builders, and the makers…for they create our world in all its amazing facets.

    Your posts always present the broader concepts of our existance, and we enjoy them! Thank you!

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    • Thank you so much for your stopping by for a visit – so very much appreciated! This weekend, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving – your comments remind me that we owe a great deal to those who came before us. May we continue in their footsteps…

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  5. Speaking of candles. Candle makers have adjusted. I have some beautiful little Christmas candles made in the form of Santa, Elves,Trees and others cute little things that I pack up and bring out at Christmas time. All of us have received gifts of candles to light for aromas, relaxation, etc. Once a necessity, now made for joy!

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  6. So thoughtful and thought provoking. It’s true that youth have an advantage when it comes to change, and yet we were young once! So what happens? You’re right Rebecca, practice does make permanent.

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    • You are so right! We were young once. At 18 I thought everything was possible, even probable. I still do but in a much different way. Something does happen…well,that means another post has been born! Love when you stop by and make me think…

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  7. Even though here in Australia we seem to have missed the brunt of the economic instability that is rife in most parts of the world there is a growing fear that it can not be far away. How we will manage it when it does come will not be pretty. I feel it will hit those who resist it the most, adaptability will be the key.

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    • You bring up a very interesting point about anticipation – growing fear. Perhaps the expectancy of economic hardship or instability has the power to instigate resistance. I agree that the willingness to adapt and problem-solve opens our eyes and minds to other possibilities. When I encountered transitions, it seemed that adaptability was a process wherein I experienced a variety of emotional ups and downs. It was taking three or four steps forward and one step backwards. Thanks for your comments – much appreciated.

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  8. Some random thoughts:
    Personal products giant Proctor and Gamble started as candle makers.

    Practice seldom makes perfect … unless it was perfect practice. After all, if you first don’t succeed … you did it wrong …. so try, try again a different way.

    Practice makes permanent? I like that one because we tend to get stuck in our ways.

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    • You are right!!! Proctor and Gamble did start as candle makers – which proves they knew how to transition. William Procter and James Gamble did not resist change – they thrived within it. The P&G website states: “What began as a small family-run candle and soap business, grew through innovation, creative marketing and partnerships to become the largest consumer goods company in the world.” Trying again a different way is the key!!! Thanks for joining the discussion.

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  9. It is so difficult to embrace, let alone celebrate change when one’s livelihood is being flushed down the toilet. The economic climate and technology changes will eventually even out only to be replaced by another. We are living twenty years (average) longer than our ancestors and we are beginning to see the shortages brought on by over population and over consumption not to mention climate change.
    Our world is changing at a much more rapid rate than even what the industrial revolution brought on and the consequences much more serious.It is true the all of this has the potential to bring about inspiring change and invention, but that doesn’t help those struggling in the present with unemployment, lower wages,out of reach health care and jobs that will never return to what they were. The shining future is built upon the grim realities of those who carry the burden now.

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    • Brilliant and profound. I especially like your words: “The shining future is built upon the grim realities of those who carry the burden now.” Every industry, every job is in flux. And the rate of transition takes my breath away, literally. I think this is why I decided to tackle this topic. I need to revisit my own thought process. I think back to that famous J.R.R. Tolkien exchange between Frodo and Gandalf.”I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and insight.

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    • Thank you, my dear friend! Your kind thoughtfulness is much appreciated. You have an amazing blog and I am truly delighted that we are travelling the blogging journey together!!! Stay tuned for my post!

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    • My dear friend, I would be honoured to accept this prestigious award. Thank you, Maarit Johanna, for your generous leadership within the blogging community. And welcome back! I missed you!!!

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    • I am delighted that you joined the discussion – your comments and thoughts are always welcome. Glad we connected over the blogger miles. We live on opposite corners of the world and yet we are able to share the journey.

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    • You bring up an excellent point! And one that will continue to be more relevant as we go forward. We do miss the human interaction; in fact, it is an absolute necessity to our mental well-being. I might be able to get through a line up at my local drugstore faster, but I missed the human connection. When I go to my favourite coffee shop, everyone knows my name – that’s why I drop by. Coffee is coffee, but saying hello to a friend makes all the difference. Within the job environment, it becomes even more critical. Thank you so much for joining the conversation.

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  10. I understand the world of work. Retirement helped me undefine myself as a worker drone, discover more the core. Enjoyed your post. Enjoyed the photo of the dock (?) workers, an historic replay of when ‘work’ was the world of men. Enjoying your blog.

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    • Transitions, including retirement (or as I think of it as re-purposement)force us to consider the context of our lives. We are defined by our work and yet we becomes slaves to our so-called careers. I am delighted that you joined the dialogue. I have learned in my experience that there were three conversations that I needed to have: with myself, with my family and with my work. I find that each has a different logic and approach. Your comment “I understand the world of work..” is profound in its simplicity. I look forward our ongoing dialogue and shared journey…glad that we connected!

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  11. Yes, enslavement. Perhaps the generations X/Y see how parents/grandparents worked, worked and worked and will fashion different life journeys. When I was young(er) [LOL] there were no career fairs in school and I think on how ‘career’ became such a significant identifier of self. Yet it is family/friends who are here at retirement – the world of work chugs on without me. [More LOL] I enjoy your topics. Take care my dear.

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    • I worked with a Gen X who was (and still is) brilliant. He challenged me (a baby boomer) on every level. I finally said “I just have to work with Gen X – good luck – you have the “Y” generation. And they are smarter than you are!!!” We still have wonderful discussions. You are right – I think the Gen X/Y children are smarter than we were. They have seen baby boomers “right sized,” “down-sized,” “re-engineered,” and escorted to the door. I admire their tenacity, drive, optimism and courage. I’m glad it is their turn – they will be amazing…

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      • Hello Clanmother,

        I must stop keyboarding as fingers getting puffy. I am so glad you understood what I meant Gen X/Y as have some in my locale as well. They have witnessed the ‘right sizing’ and know that work is not/cannot be the central core of hearth/home. It’s a good thing that the generations do progress.

        Take care dear one.

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    • Yes, speaking as Gen-Xer I can tell you that as a kid I knew would never work at one place for 20 years or more. I watched, from my working class suburb of Chicago, as big places like International Harvester, Western Electric, GTE Automatic Electric, and many others close up, putting thousands out of work.

      Before I became a stay-at-home parent, I always felt that I had to keep updating my skills, taking jobs that I knew would give me broader experience in my field (Technical Writing), constantly trying to stay “employable.” Change was a constant.

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      • I continue to admire the Gen-Xers. Your generation figured everything out faster than we (Baby Boomers) did. You saw that the sustainability of a 30 year career in one firm was impossible, given the current rate of change. And you reacted with speed and agility that made the rest of say, “what happened – what did I miss?” And your time is not over yet – you have taken the leadership positions and will determine the next stage of work. Meanwhile, the Baby Boomers will be busy redefining their roles as the aging generation. We could learn a few tips from your generation on change management…

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  12. How did I miss this one? That shipyard was probably so vibrant and alive with men in hats going to work to support their families. Once a major employer, how did they get it all done with typewriters and carbon paper? Wow. Maybe we need to rethink all this technology cluttering up our lives–except for blogging, of course. I have the weirdest feeling when I see your”like” message popping up in my inbox. I feel like –if I have YOUR stamp of approval, all is good. Strange, huh? I’m not normally like that-I try to perfect the wisecracking fast talking banter and repartee princess, a la Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy. Can’t explain it, a very good feeling, and thank you very much. Just thought I’d share with you.

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    • What a wonderful message to receive – thank you so much! Funny thing about connections. They seem to materialize of their own accord. Several years ago, I traveled to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and signed up for a walking tour through the old town. When we came to the “captain’s house” the guide gave told us about the love story of the ship captain and his wife. When he was out to sea, she would keep lookout at the top window, waiting for him to return. I turned to my husband and said, we really need to move here – I feel like I have been here all my life. But my wonderful husband reminded me that the winters in Atlantic Canada were very cold. So I came back to Vancouver – still by the sea, but only a little warmer in the winter. I have always loved the sea…so it would seem that we are indeed kindred spirits…

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