I’ve kept loose notes this week, an array of unmarried thoughts…one scrap of paper simply declares, “Passion”. Draft emails include the following:
“Corporations are granted legal rights of individuals for economic purposes, but they are not subject to the downside of criminal risk (a corporation cannot be charged with murder – I think). Consider requiring corporations to prove that they provide social utility.”
“Question why, when discussing economic health, we talk about economic GROWTH? Why not SUSTAINABILITY? We have already reached a level of aggregate economic wealth that needs no improvement – the challenge is can we a) sustain such levels and b) allocate this wealth among all citizens fairly.”
The title of this entry – posed by a friend’s email – brings me to the reason I started this blog: celebration of free speech, ongoing encouragement to explore exciting ideas, and a means to communicate with friends and strangers on topics that I find important. Plan9 – thanks kicking me in the butt.
I’ve spent this week at a work conference, slouching through classes on topics that will never appear on this blog – accounting is not my passion. So how do I respond to the motivational speaker who told us to follow our passions…to make our dreams come true? This speaker traveled the well-worn path of studying a group of leader/innovators and compiling a list of common behaviors he views as secrets to success. From an Apple engineer to Henry Ford and Thomas Edision, our speaker concluded that successful people employ old ideas in new ways. Put another way, “think outside the box”…I’ve heard this before.
To be fair, most motivational speakers say things that are either nonsense or self-evident. They are forced by book publishers to concoct “rules” or “laws” or “secrets” of success, none of which could ever pass muster in controlled scientific study. But once you get past the psuedo-science, motivational speakers aren’t so bad. If they are good, they are entertaining. And if they are very good, they cause an existential discomfort prompting us to evaluate our lives. Am I REALLY achieving my potential? Do I struggle aimlessly through each day? Should I open myself to new sources of knowledge and power?
I usually answer these questions with “I’m working on it”.
A discomfort I have with corporate motivational speakers is they try to sit on both sides of the fence. They want us to be uber-capitalists, making money hand-over-fist as we crush the competition…but they also want us to be happy, fully realized individuals while we do it. Not impossible, but a bit too convenient. Pursuit of wealth often conflicts with pursuit of higher ethical/personal/religious beliefs. Let’s not pretend these pursuits are one in the same.