The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
My Position on Profit 2: The Passion Prosperity Reconcile
Recap: So, here I am encouraging you to turn your passion into profit, while every now and then, if you read my column, you’ll hear my ethical opposition to capitalism and its effects on the world. Am I contradicting myself? We all exist and are pursuing our dreams within a capitalist paradigm. We are all forced to some degree, to participate in it. However, I suggest to you that it is built on the following faulty premises:
The Foundational Flaws
There are a few beliefs and practices I’ve identified that point to flaws in the foundation of capitalist thinking:
1. the concept that no exchange of real value is required to be successful at capitalism. (i.e. “I’m in this to make money, and will sell whatever people are willing to buy.”) This violates a basic ethical principle of true prosperity which requires that equivalent value be exchanged such that both parties benefit.
2. Infinite growth. Economic growth in capitalism-as-practiced is based on the belief that every month and every quarter, the capitalist corporation can (and must) post higher and higher profits. I suggest to you that one cannot sustain infinite growth on a planet with finite resources. Something has to give.
So, the question is: “How do we reconcile our desire and efforts to turn our own passions into profit in such a system?” In other words, “how do I succeed in business without exploiting people and destroying the planet?” Is it even possible?”
Right after last week's column, I watched "Capitalism: A Love Story" the film by Michael Moore, which highlights the more evil aspects of the greed, the callousness, the exploitation and disregard for humanity that has been encouraged and elevated to an art by capitalism’s “profit at all costs” mentality.
This, to me, is the most glaring downside to the whole pursuit of business within a capitalist ideal: that people confuse and equate exploitation with survival and prosperity. The truth, however, is that sustenance, survival and prosperity are all possible without having to resort to capitalism’s darker side.
One key point made in the movie is that if we are to change the system as it is practiced, such a change needs to be global and total. In other words, nothing short of a revolution, a complete dismantling and overhaul of the entire system will work to stop the exploitation and save the planet.
However, there are many obvious, and not so obvious challenges to such a revolution. First, of all, according to the film: “The system has built into it, propaganda: the ability to convince people who are victimized by the system to support the system and see it as a good.”
In other words, some of the most vocal resistance to changing the system will come from those at the very bottom of the system’s hierarchy—the workers—who have been convinced that their future success is tied in to maintaining things as they are.
Rethinking the Paradigm
Therefore, we must first dispel many misconceptions about what Capitalism is, and also and see it clearly for what it isn’t. We must uproot a fundamental belief system about what it means to be successful within this paradigm. This may be the greatest challenge. In fact, even now, as you read this, you too, may be experiencing thoughts and words like “subversive,” “un-American,” “dictatorship,” etc. as a result of the emotional connection many people have with what it means to strive within a capitalist ideal.
However, here are some new ideas, among many others that one needs to accept and realize as true:
- Capitalism does not provide for the well-being of all of people.
- Capitalism creates wealth for one class at the expense of another
- Capitalism does not equal democracy and freedom
- Capitalism is not holy and just
- Success in business does not have to be a win-lose proposition.
- There is harm being done to others as well as the planet as a result of the system as it is practiced. This destruction may be irreversible.
Remaking the Paradigm
As these changes in thought taks hold, we can then begin to change our behavior. The things that we create and sell, how we create them, and the underlying basis of it all can be re-made according to some new ideals including:
- Refuse to create or sell anything that destroys life, lowers the quality of life, infringes on the rights and freedoms of others or that is manufactured in ways that do.
- Practice “fair exchange” (not exploitation) as the basis of prosperity
- Create value for the consumer in the form of a product
product= “a high quality object or service in the hands of the consumer, in exchange for a valuable.”
- Implement democratic ideals in the marketplace (one enlightening feature of Moore’s film focused on businesses that are actually owned and operated by the owners in a true democratic—one person one vote-fashion.
What it will require
Such new practices will require certain discipline and decisions:
It will require being an independent thinker.
It will require having an inviolable set of beliefs and behaviors, and the courage to act according to them despite how the masses act
It will require sticking to those beliefs and behaviors and to accept the consequences of those actions.
It will required developing a long-time perspective. In other words, it means realizing that your activities have consequences on others and on the planet, and choosing to act now based on the long-term consequences of your actions.
Admittedly, the above is a gross simplification of a complex topic intended to be a starting point for discussion. The simplicity of the approach is not meant to imply that such a global revolution in thought and practice is easy. However, if such a revolution in thought and practice is to come, it must be adopted first by those on a local, individual level. Such a revolution will only come when there are sufficient numbers of people who are thinking and acting differently about themselves, about their goals, and the rights and freedoms of others, and the sustainability of our actions and practices on the planet. Only then can we truly reconcile our pursuits of “profit” so as not to lose our souls in the process as we pursue true prosperity.
As the title of my book, Turn your Passion into Sustainability wouldn’t have had quite the same ring to it, but perhaps, those of us with an eye on the true significance of what we seek as passionpreneurs, can unofficially choose a new mantra: Turn Your Passion Into Prosperity! Now, THAT, has a nice ring to it!
Note: Where will YOUR passion take you? What sort of life would you experience if you could? Find out what's possible as you turn your passion into profit. Check out my new adventures on jamaicaninchina.com.
Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to www.bestofsaipan.com!
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt
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Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of over two dozen books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several businesses in the US, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com)