I feel as if there is a significant volume of works adoring, in a sense, and vilifying the scarcity mentality in our culture. I was fist exposed to these concepts by Brené Brown, and I was challenged by her first TED talk. Personally, I was inspired and motivated for the longest time by the “greed is good” mantra. I felt the constant longing for more was a staircase that drove us to higher levels of personal and professional development. Life is not simple. I learned that it could just as easily be a death spiral that we were riding. Having taken this train ride up and down over my career, I have learned one key element. The lack of satisfaction with what we have or achieved thus far in life is not the panacea of upward growth I once thought when it is anchored in the bias of scarcity. We are consumed with desires for more time, effort, energy, goodwill of others, and building our professional kingdoms (power) while burning ourselves and others out. It will never be enough; there is always another mountain to climb.
Further thought provocation arrived when I was pressured to define scarcity and its possible causes. The conversation began to focus on root causes in our culture and my sub-culture. In Southern California, we, for the most part, do not suffer from any real form of scarcity. So, the best causal idea was to attribute scarcity mindset to a misguided belief of insecurity. Scarcity mindset and fear are interwoven, and I believe they are mutually reinforcing. It might be a fear of loss, of limited attainment, sustainability, achievement itself, or not knowing what is coming next that develops the fear and sense of scarcity. These fears are the life blood of insecurity and lead people to extreme levels of consumption. It is the “more for you is less for me” taken to an aggressive stance. The void we try to fill by over consuming everything can never be filled because of a nagging scarcity fear. It is a zombie-like craving that controls and takes away bits of our humanity and the enjoyment of everyday experiences.
At some point in your career, you arrive at a moment when you start questioning everything. You wonder what will be the next challenge or goal that should be undertaken. I thought a lot about what I had received, and what I am giving back. This was the first step for me. I stopped and began to question my motives, desires, and long-term goals. I bounced ideas off people, sought out feedback, worked with a coach, and took more time to be with my family and friends. I made no significant changes or jumping to a different track of life. I made a few tweaks here and there and had a realization that my thinking had to change. Like everyone else, I am a work in progress, and each day I hope to make a positive contribution to my endeavors. I am more content with what I have achieved, adjust goals and pacing, and finally appreciate how much I enjoy helping others to achieve their aims.
I intentionally did not edit or refine from my first draft…I just felt like writing tonight, and this was what was on my mind.
Back in February, I decided to close or curtail the use of a significant number of my social media accounts. At the time, this radical action included the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, discussion forums, and general new sites. The first week was troubling as I felt a nagging sensation that I was being delinquent by not looking or logging into these platforms. For Twitter and Instagram, I did not have much of a choice as I closed my account. I also closed my tumbler account and unfollowed nearly all, if not all, WordPress blogs. There was a distinct feeling of loss as if my favorite security blanket went missing. I finally understood Linus.
After a month, the feelings of neglect and loss are all but dissipated. There is no sensation of obligation or failing to meet other people’s expectations regarding my involvement. There is a surprising upside to the amount of free time that has been created. It is a lot easier to find time to work out and see friends when you do not have as many digital obligations. This is not to say that I am some overgrown child that lives in their mom’s basement. We all have a lot of things competing for our time and attention and this is a surprisingly easy group of items to cut out to allows us to spend time more meaningfully with those that actually matter.
Just doing my part to keep my life a little simpler…
In working on another project, I completed some research on Management Theory. I found the reading insightful and wrote some thoughts on the topic…
Modern management theories arose out of the industrial revolution through the First and Second World War. Modern management theories adoption was occurred slowly because of the belief that organizations were too diverse and the practice would only work over a short time (Witzel & Warner, 2015). As discussed by Len Nixon, modern management theories focused on maximizing productivity and frequently treated employees as a cog in the machine. Scientific approaches were employed to standardize processes, select appropriate workers and reduce employee movements. Along the same lines, division of labor, defined rules and regulations, and the more formalized relationship with a defined chain of command was established between employees and management. Modern management theories were embraced widely and have applicability in today’s workplace (Nixon, 2003).
The postmodernist movement humanize employees and encourage management to increase worker productivity by considering the needs of the employees, developing incentive systems, training, and have career pathing (Nixon, 2003). Additionally, the division of labor took on a team-based focus, management became more concerned with motivation and communication, and the hierarchy and rule system became less comprehensive (Nixon, 2003).
The modernist management practices are utilized today in manufacturing and many industrial settings (Nixon, 2003). Additionally, these management practices are frequently used with inexperienced workers and entry-level positions. As the jobs become more complex and the workers more skilled, postmodern management theories become commonplace. Basic job functions benefit by initial scoping through the modernist theories. However, employees are the key element in most businesses and thrive under postmodern theories. By combining these two sets of theories, modern managers are better able to understand employee motivations and improve productivity. Employees need to be needed, want to be appreciated, rewarded for their efforts, and work on tasks that are engaging. The postmodern theories of management allow managers to understand these feelings and design tasks that will deliver for the business and the employees at the same time.
I love to read, but it is nearly impossible to read as much as I wish. Between professional and personal obligations, there is not enough hours during a day. Unfortunately, the volume of brand new material released every year does not allow me to see my reading list dwindle very far. For every book I knock off the list, it seems like I add two or three new ones to take its place. This does not even account for the material that I want to read a second or third time.
We all have dreaded commutes and repetitious physical activity time such as working out in the gym. I am an advocate for using this time to listen to books. I find driving or working out on cardio equipment is a perfect time to help knock down that reading list. While I certainly enjoy listening to an audio book, I do not do it all the time. I find that if I listen to audio books too frequently that I will usually begin to daydream and let my mind wander off the material. So I cycle between listening to music and listening to audio books. Usually, it is two weeks of listening to books to one week of listening to music.
When I am in a more audio book focused mindset, I knock out an additional 20 books a year by simply using the time in my car or working out in the gym. I do not read in the evenings at anywhere near this rate and typically finish a book a month. Listening to books allows me to expand my annual book consumption by over 100%.
Additionally, I prefer to listen to books that are more personal interest versus reading more business focused material. Only about one in three audio books is related to business or personal development. The other two books tend to be biographical, historical, or educational in nature. I am not one that is fond of listening to works of fiction. I do read fiction, but it is almost always on my Kindle. For me, a talented fiction writer is someone who can take me into the world of the book and leave my sense of reality. I lose all track of time and sense of place while reading and stop seeing the pages. The story exists in only my mind’s eye. I have never experienced this while listening to an audio book…I think it is just something about the process of reading that allows me to join the book’s world so vividly.