Unlike the world’s great religions, the Tony Hsieh Unified Happiness Theory is not entirely settled. It involves establishing balance among four basic human needs: perceived progress, perceived control, relatedness, and a connection to a larger vision. And because Hsieh’s life is his company, the test subjects are Zappos employees. “I’ve got a few different frameworks, and I’m just figuring out how to combine them,” he says without irony or even a smile. “I think I’m pretty close.”
In today’s global economy here is what is scarce:
1. Quality land and natural resources
2. Intellectual property, or good ideas about what should be produced.
3. Quality labor with unique skills
Here is what is not scarce these days:
1. Unskilled labor, as more countries join the global economy
2. Money in the bank or held in government securities, which you can think of as simple capital, not attached to any special ownership rights (we know there is a lot of it because it has been earning zero or negative real rates of return).”
Jonathan Fields is awesome. This is a must read. What he says here applies to just about any career or life choice.
Let’s move on, “The average person also doesn’t have the business or legal education, the negotiating skills…” The only business education I had was what I learned building my own things, from mowing lawns in summer to DJing in college and working minimum wage jobs here and there. No B-school, just the very same training anyone can get with initiative. As for law school, while it did train me to be better at researching case-law, everything I learned about financial markets was on my own, through my own self-study driven by a deep interest. As most lawyers will tell you, their formal education was essentially a ticket to a job (not so guaranteed any more) where, for the first time you’d really start to learn the practice. And, for the record, it’s a pretty safe bet that I wasn’t all that good at negotiation and I hated the back-and-forth posturing that often went on in the name of a “win” I wasn’t all that invested in.
So, what’s this really all about?
It’s about the assumptions we make about people and what that reveals not about them, but us.
It’s about how we sometimes assume into existence a facade of reality that doesn’t exist in the name of rationalizing our own inaction. It’s about pointing to people who have done something and saying “well, that’s good for them, but I don’t have all the advantages they have,” when, in reality, the “they” we are talking about aren’t all that different from us.
Why do we do this?
Because, if we own that fact that what we want is within out grasp, even if we need to work hard and train in the ability to make it so, and we still don’t act, we are faced with a level of cognitive dissonance that makes us feel really bad. Bad about ourselves, and bad about the lives we unfold.
So, instead, we make assumptions that allow us to never try. Which keeps us from feeling the discomfort of uncertainty and novelty and change and risk. But also leads to so much sadness. So much futility. So much frustration and surrender. And beyond the way it affects our own lives, it robs society as a whole of the amazing gifts we have to offer, had we only owned the truth of our own potential and learned the skills needed to handle and then harness the journey.
During the last several weeks, Thomas Piketty’s magisterial Capital in the Twenty-First Century has earned great protestation on the heels of great praise. As the hits keep coming, I am reminded of the experience of another courageous, insightful truth-teller: Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose work the Rockefeller Foundation supported when I…
I am passionate about everything in my life—first and foremost, passionate about ideas. And that’s a dangerous person to be in this society, not just because I’m a woman, but because it’s such a fundamentally anti-intellectual, anti-critical thinking society.
When you fail early, it might be worth realizing that this is part of the deal, the price you pay for being good in the long run.
When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.
You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.