My Basic Ideas In a Nutshell
At its core, my method is a means of harmonizing the needs of capitalism and the needs of human beings; of maximally harmonizing the requirements of the future with those of the present; the needs of the individual with those of the whole. It reveals itself differently for each individual, but overall, this method should liberate an untold amount of energy, and reduce suffering greatly.
Of course, you hear the words of a visionary type, and these grandiose visions are frequently met with derision, or indeed, can be a little “off” when it comes to the practical side of life; granted. But this one is fundamentally grounded in the pragmatics of commerce, of exchange, or the fundamentals of business. It’s just that it is also grounded in the fundamentals of psychology, personal growth, and human expression. It seeks a way of harmonizing these forces, so that capitalism—as the current primary method of the exchange of power—can become a means to enhancing people’s lives.
The reason I speak of capitalism is because that is the primary operating principle economically, not because I consider it essentially important, or the only way to do things.
I am expressing my vision here in its raw theoretical power, although I recognize that I will have to reframe much of it in terms that the average self-interested creative individual can comprehend and work with.
Here are the fundamentals:
- We operate on an animal nature level, such that we do need food, shelter, warmth, water, and so on.
- We have the higher-level needs, such as validation, expression, and self-development.
- Weirdly abstracted levels of economic behavior operate almost according to their own rules (e.g. capitalism), simultaneously meeting human needs, not meeting human needs, and variously doing what they do. To my mind, these left in the hands of fear are most likely the major source of destruction on the planet at this moment.
The human tendency to take shortcuts represents both a necessity of the mind, and our greatest danger. Without shortcuts, we could not build buildings, create societies, or even have a conversation. And yet, each shortcut, when taken as a life choice without sufficient consideration, can become a sentence that condemns us to a life we do not love.
And one of the major life shortcuts that we tend to live through is the story of what our own success will look like. Whether it’s the entreaty of our parents that we go to med school (even though we don’t want to become a doctor), or the idea that we should go into consulting (because all our friends are going into consulting, and so it just seemed like the thing to do), we make major life choices based on shortcuts.
And one of the most nearly universal shortcuts is the one that says this: “The more money you make, the happier and more successful your life will be.” All things being equal, money is nice; but since all things are not equal, this idea runs the risk of sending you decades into the future, before you notice that in the pursuit of a happiness-shortcut called “make a lot of money,” you discover that you are, in fact, not happy.
Now, it’s nice if you did accumulate money along the way. We see often enough stories of people who quit their job in finance and bought a farm upstate. Or quit their job in management consulting and went to Africa to help the needy. “Isn’t that nice for them,” some of us might think, “at least they had the money to afford to buy a farm, or spend a year without making any income.” And yes, that is nice. But the point here is not that money isn’t nice, the point is that we can make conscious choices, in which money plays a conscious role, but in which it is never presumed to be a cure-all for anything, necessarily.
These boilerplate life options—these shortcuts—are still the bulk of what appears to be on offer (oddly). Do this, make this money, do that, get that “bling”. Now, probably not that different than most societies of the past, although it may have been more like, “you’re going to be a tailor, because that is what your father did.”
Regardless, the irony is that right now so many of us have the choice of many, many options, yet do not examine them, or even understand what they are. This is changing, in no small part because the Internet is opening people to a vast array of opportunities to make money online, in this way or that. And while these too, can tend to be a little formulaic, they are providing a greater array of possibilities.
And variety and diversity is spreading in many ways throughout the culture. In 1960, there was one standard, and that was what white men said and did. In 2021, although white male culture still dominates, the roles of women, and people of color, and even a diversity of genders, are all spreading and gaining acceptance—for just a few of the many examples of this phenomenon of diversification. The world is moving from a uni-centered power reality to a multi-centered power reality; from a world where there is one right way to a world where there are many answers, and all can be appreciated. If you examine theories of consciousness evolution (such as Spiral Dynamics), you will see this change as indicative of that evolution.
These are core ideas for me:
- Liberating the creative, expressive spirit in someone brings good into the world.
- A great majority of our difficulties come from people being told “that’s just the way we do it; don’t question it, or you will be punished; shut up and conform”.
- The creative spirit in someone wants to be valuable and useful to the whole.
- The internal wounding in people, ubiquitous in every level of society, creates the majority of the aberrations that we know as greed, selfishness, control/dominance behavior, etc. (This is my long-term observation. Many many people, according to what I have seen, have constructed a personal moral analysis that says the opposite: “Nope, you are just naive; some people are just bad; trust me. I’ve seen it.” But in my view they are not noticing the depth of the wounding in people at large, nor in themselves, most likely.)
- A enormous amount of trouble comes from the over-simplistic valuation of “more money” as the solution to virtually any problem, on a personal level and collectively. It’s not that money isn’t useful; it’s that the deification of it is a shortcut causes much suffering. It becomes our boss, instead of us becoming its boss. Instead of serving the needs of a society, it becomes the proxy for all needs, which tends to collapse the other human forms of expression in weird, distorted ways which contort our nature. For example, expressions that are not remunerative become devalued. Expressions that were once shared freely become commodified in ways that seem to abstract us from others.
- The essence of making good decisions is deconstructing everything and seeing what really works for you. It means not buying a suit off the rack—such as “become a lawyer, make lots of money, and live a perfect life.” Instead, you go to the extra trouble of having a bespoke suit made, one that fits you to a tee. It requires more work up front. It requires thought.
- Cycling back to your passions, inspirations, and creative expressions, I believe this is the wellspring of inspiration from which most energy really comes—the most interesting things, that move the culture forward, and create real joy. Regardless of the amount of economic renumeration my work brings, I want to bring more of this into the world. I also want remuneration to become more associated with joy, as well, though. I want fun and happiness to become a bigger part of the currency of commerce, and I want money to take its proper place as an element of the picture, instead of the whole picture. It seems so obvious to me that this is an important part of the puzzle.
- This being the case (about your passions and personal expression), I am all about helping to breathe faith, inspiration and excitement into the idea that you can do what you love, even though I know that this is a somewhat fraught conversation in some circles. I never actually read the book Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow, but I realize that this mantra was over-simplistic for many (I don’t know if the book was, though.) Regardless, the point isn’t that you do these things in a vacuum; the point is that from the point of view of innovation, creative practice out in the world, we aren’t here just to “express ourselves;” we do so in community; we do so for and with others. We can turn it into service. We can learn how to dance with the others, to create mutually-beneficial exchanges of wonderment, even in the day-to-day actions we take. We can make commerce into wonderful exchanges, woven together with care, helpfulness, and kindness. Yes. We can. (It is a choice.)
- And following on this, is what I believe is the final principle for this moment: When you engage in a practice thus, of ever-growing conversation, listening, responsiveness, expressiveness; when you let go of more and more of that wounding which pushes you to be normative, without offering anything new or more to the culture; you actually begin to create a life you love because of the work you do. Not after the work you do. (That’s fine, but it is not my interest—my interest is to see how much energy, enthusiasm, excitement, utility and value I can liberate by fanning the flames of these particular impulses). In other words, the very crank you turn for your expression, your value to the world, and your remuneration, are harmonized (as much as possible; more and more…), into a single expression, that benefits others.
That is my goal.
 This reminds me of the planet Camazotz in the book A Wrinkle in Time, which was covered with a dark, dark layer of clouds which obscured the sunshine, and where everyone had to behave exactly the same way.