Find Your Voice

CUs hit the high notes for their members.

June 24, 2013

I am somewhat musically inclined and recall with fondness past various performance opportunities I’ve enjoyed.

I sang as an alto in the concert choir; sometimes as a soloist, duet partner, or in the jazz ensemble.  I was also a piano accompanist.

I even took the stage wearing a spectacular hat as “Irene Molloy” in “Hello, Dolly!”

These varied opportunities required a few consistent elements: Stage presence, confidence, talent, knowledge of my role, ability to follow a director or conductor, and willingness to learn a part.

Most importantly, I had to literally “find my voice” to execute any performance.  I had to want to do it!

In the workaday world—and life—we must “find our voice.”  This requires not only the figurative elements in my musical analogy, but knowing what that voice sounds like and wants to say in the first place.

Are you singing the right part—or are you a soprano attempting to master the bass line?  Maybe you have dormant abilities that would allow you to fly higher backstage?

An article in Forbes highlights the importance of matching personal abilities and interests with career choice.  Here you’ll learn, “The one belief that stands out among all the rest as the most limiting, damaging, and constraining—and contributes most to career inertia and unhappiness—is this: ‘I don’t have what it takes to do what I want.’”

The author suggests practical steps to overcome this mindset and achieve career fulfillment.

As you examine other research findings in this week’s concert program, think about how you might incorporate your hidden talents and hit all the high notes, for you and your members.

Singin’ in the Rain

Some consumers are singing the blues!  Awareness of their needs will keep us in tune.

Retirement Tougher for Boomer Children,” says Boston College.  “Three out of five Americans in their 30s and well over half of those in their 40s are at risk of experiencing a decline in their standard of living after they retire.  This compares with 4% of baby boomers.”

The explanation for this circumstance is that Generation X will have fewer Social Security benefits and less access to defined-benefit pension plans.  Further, Generation X has longer life expectancy and will require a greater reserve of funds for retirement.

On the mortgage front, “Too Many Homeowners Still Underwater.” Reportedly, “one in four U.S. homeowners with a mortgage still has ‘negative equity’” and these 13 million homeowners will continue to feel impact of the housing slump as they cannot use negative equity “to improve their personal finances.” This will make it more difficult to relocate or refinance.

Cities feeling the pinch include Seattle, Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

A  release essay from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ new Center for Household Financial Stability reveals the damage to household wealth during the Great Recession. It also explores the circumstances that led to large declines in household wealth, makes the case that such wealth has not fully recovered, and shows why all of that matters for U.S. economic recovery.  

  • Disappointing research findings reveal:
  • Household wealth, on average, is “only about halfway back to prerecession levels.”
  • Those losing the most in percentage terms were “younger, less-educated and/or African-American and Hispanic families.”
  • Subgroups losing the most had higher portions of assets in housing and “higher debt-to-asset ratios than less economically vulnerable groups.”

Here comes the sun

But the economic news is not all bad. Sing along with these findings:

“Americans’ confidence in U.S. banks increased to 26% in June, up from the record low of 21% a year ago,” says Gallup

Strong public confidence in banking is necessary for growth of the economy, and Gallup indicates “Americans’ improving perceptions of their banking institutions appear to be realistic.  In turn, this provides an opportunity for banks, their regulators, and their stakeholders to build on and create momentum for increasing Americans’ confidence.”

A further note of encouragement: In addition to an increase of the population that is confident in banking, there is a decrease in those who voice lack of confidence.

Feeling Like Gatsby?  Net Worth Hits Another Record,” says BloombergBusinessweek.  “Household net worth jumped by $3 trillion, to $70 trillion, in the [first] quarter” buoyed by stock market growth and strengthening housing prices. 

“Household debt fell because consumers spent cautiously,” Bloomberg reports, and “some growth in household debt might actually be a positive sign for the economy if it isn’t too extreme.”

Meanwhile, “U.S. Workers Feeling Optimistic, Monster’s Workforce Talent Survey Reveals.”  “Nearly half (42%) of employed job seekers are dissatisfied with their current job, with a surprising majority (81%) of the employed expecting to actively search for a new job in the next year,” the article reveals.

The good news is that despite apparent on-the-job dissatisfaction, seekers “were generally confident of finding a job,” as 79% of the employed and 75% of the unemployed felt confident about landing new employment in the next year.

Apparently, many workers want to improve their situations and outlook with a better employment match, and hope to sing from new songbooks.

Know and dance to the tunes you like.  Sing the song you want—and were meant—to sing.

It will not only be music to your ears, but to the ears of those around you who will applaud your enthusiasm and benefit from your shared talents.







Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.