A Call to Action: Do What You Love

March 12, 2016

It’s taking-over-the-world time. 

waterfall

Let’s quickly dispense with the preachy.

I believe every person should be able to have their basic survival needs met without having their life completely ruled by their job. Those survival needs include adequate eats, enough clothes, a home of some sort to live in, some way to get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, and access to basic medical attention when needed. And an iPhone. I’m kidding (maybe).

Then there are the other basic needs. A person should have an hour of free time every day for their physical health (exercise, going for a walk), an hour of free time for mental/emotional/spiritual health (meditation, prayer, contemplation, journaling, counseling, whatever suits you), and at least an hour a day for fun, relaxation, and spending meaningful, quality time with family or friends. A job should not stand in the way of these basic needs, it should support the fulfillment of these needs.

Don’t think these are basic needs? Yeah, I don’t care about health and happiness either.

Lastly, I believe the ability to do meaningful work that one is called to do should be a reality for every person.

Whoa, slow down there. Not everyone can do stuff they want to do. Someone has to clean the toilets. 

Sure, someone has to clean the toilets, but do they need a job where that’s all they do for forty hours a week or more? How about ten hours of cleaning toilets, ten hours of doing something completely different that they’re damn good at, ten hours of doing something they love and are learning to get good at, and ten hours of giving back to the community? Isn’t it possible for there to be a system that accomplished all of that while still meeting people’s survival needs and their basic health and happiness needs?

Maybe I’m just an optimist.

Enough with the preachy. Now, let me dispense with the cynical. I’ll try to be brief.

Why can’t we have those things? They seem like simple things to me. With all the amazing technological innovation that has come in the last century, with all the wealth and abundance that exists, it seems achievable to me that we could spend our time living quality lives. But it appears, at least in my corner of the world, that we are moving away from this, not towards it.

Why? Because the system is b-r-o-k-e-n. Broken like Communism was broken.

Take public companies as an example. Their goal is to grow, grow, grow, a bit like the cancer that just got cut off of my arm thanks to having my basic medical needs met (for which I’m extraordinarily grateful).

That is because public companies are owned mostly by people who don’t even work for the company, but by “shareholders” who want somewhere to stick their money and make it multiply at a rate that often defies the laws of physics and common sense. So the companies themselves are literally wired to attempt to achieve those magnificent, and usually unrealistic feats, at almost any expense. They become short-term focused and make wonky decisions. But it ain’t really their fault, it’s just that the financial incentives of the decision-makers are lined up to do this very thing.

The game becomes all about growth and profit in order to serve the hungry ghost shareholders first and foremost.

Serving hungry ghost shareholders first means customers take the back seat and employees take (get stuffed in) the trunk.

Enter unspoken mantra:

More with less! Work harder! Be a better cog in this machine! Take this role that might be sucking your soul, but be grateful, because I’m giving you wages and benefits! And frankly, you should consider yourself to be one of the lucky ones because look at all those unemployed people out there (who, incidentally, we were the ones to fire back in 2008 and 2009 and never rehired since it was a lot cheaper to have you do their job on top of yours and we could feed our hungry ghost investors more)!

But I must be careful not to imply that we are simply victims of a system. We do play our part in feeding this machine, knowingly and unknowingly. For starters, we generally choose not to challenge the status quo. And of course, we tend to consume, consume, consume. The problem with that is when our wants and desires far exceed our survival needs and our basic health and happiness needs and our need for meaningful work, we start to make compromises. These compromises ultimately cut into our survival needs, our basic health and happiness needs, and our need for meaningful work.

Soon enough, we find ourselves stuck in the system, often feeling like victims. Worse yet, some of us (I regretfully admit I fit squarely in this round hole) spend our workdays serving that very system… helping to make it stronger and more deeply entrenched in our culture.

Alright enough with the cynical stuff already!

Because I have a dream. 

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I have a dream that one day, ordinary men and women everywhere will rise up, take stock of their lives, their children’s lives, and the lives of those around them, and consciously remove the shackles we have put on each other and ourselves.

I have a dream that we will collectively rise up and shed this industrialized, corporatized system of growth-and-profit-at-the-expense-of-basic-human-well-being, just as we seek to shed the antiquated, harmful systems of thinking that underpin racism, bigotry, religious fundamentalism, and any other form of oppression of our fellow human beings that does not serve our ultimate good.

I have a dream that a movement will begin… one in which our neighbors, friends and family will begin to rise up and shed the so-called security of their corporate jobs… and that commerce will once again be reigned by ordinary people doing business with other good people in their very own communities, serving each other and supporting a fulfilling way of life for all.

I have a dream that our world’s largest companies will wake up to find that this movement has taken hold, and that they must change the way they think and behave to survive in this new, fulfilling world where well-being is placed above the values of consumerism and shareholder profits.

I have a dream that companies everywhere will discover their true place in the world—as authentic and bold organizations designed to serve our survival needs, our basic health and happiness needs, and our need for meaningful work—and that this transformation will be driven by leaders who choose to take the risk of following the authentic and bold path.

I have a dream that people everywhere will begin to wake up and realize their calling—that artists, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, will flower and flourish, and will rediscover the simple joys of freedom, of following one’s heart, and of a job well done.

I have a dream that bold individuals who embrace their own authentic selves will start this revolution. And I have a dream that I am not the only individual who shares in this dream.

If by chance you do not share in similar dreams, no worries. I appreciate you making it all the way to this point of my optimistic, caffeine-induced visions of a new world order.

If by chance you do share in similar dreams, I would sincerely appreciate you passing this message on to anyone you think might also share in similar dreams. Regardless of when you happen to come across it. Tweet it. Email it. Or use one of those other buttony-things below. Whatever you kids do these days.

But most importantly, live it. If you’re an artist, a freelancer, somebody with something to offer this world who is willing to take a risk and follow the road less traveled, then by golly, take that road my traveling friend.

Because your inner spark can start a fire around you. I need your inner spark. We all need your inner spark. The quality of our lives and our children’s lives and our children’s children’s lives depend on it.