As part of our generation’s ongoing quest for authenticity and truth amid the clutter of biased opinions, inaccurate facts, and commercially-supported messaging, one complex theme keeps getting overlooked; the virtue of being exclusive. By this I mean the importance of streamlining every aspect of your life, to ensure every element that would typically have an influence on your daily decisions are aligned.
It’s easy to do this on the Internet, almost to the point of risking the proliferation of narrow world views. With Twitter we can play the role of our own media editors, following only those sources of information that we trust and agree with; with Facebook we can hide news feed updates from people who post non-copasetic pictures, links, and updates (read: ultrasounds, special offers, and attention-seeking emotional statements about the hardships of life); and with blogs we can hone in on exactly the unchecked biased opinions that we identify with, furthering our exploration and understanding of a specific subject matter or set of ideas.
The trickier elements to control, or rather ignore, are those that come in the form of influential people in our lives; our friends, family, clients, guests, peers, coworkers, suppliers, employees, and stakeholders. The challenge isn’t tuning out the unapologetically-controversial comments that your Grandma drops at Christmas dinner, but rather the demands that influence our behavior by those people who financially support our lifestyle in some way. It’s easy to criticize the faceless banker on Wall Street, but the analyst who put the value on a set of seemingly standard collection of mortgages without realizing their toxic nature was simply executing a somewhat standard formula on behalf of his boss, who was asked to determine the value by his institutional buyers, who were just trying to achieve the returns demanded by their investors. No particular person can be blamed for society’s misdirected ambitions; at the same time, every person can be blamed that would allow themselves to be surrounded by influencers who aren’t in alignment with one’s core values.
This is just as true for the brand strategist who accepts the job from a client who doesn’t share the same views on environmental or social responsibility; the real estate developer who decides to build with irresponsibly sourced wood because his clients are demanding a cheaper product; or a hotelier that allows their vibe to be tainted with the opinions and demands of people who aren’t aligned with their core clientele and ultimate vision.
You see it in actors, like the difference between the movies that Sean Penn chooses to do versus the choices of Brendan Fraser. What would our decisions on who we allow to direct or produce us look like if they were all up on the big screen? Would you end off your days pleased with the integrity that you demonstrated in the face of ambition, or regretful of your application of talent and effort towards misaligned objectives under the false pursuit of success and riches?
And therein lies the challenge for us all. To be selective with the hand that feeds us, for it’s those that feed us that influence and shape our behavior the most. To only work for people or companies or organizations or clients or guests or patrons or investors that are aligned with our own selves and our own sets of values. Even at the cost of monetary wealth. Because if your entire life is spent surrounded only by people that make you more yourself, that’s the greatest form of wealth that I can imagine.
…from the desk of Dickie