Our dollars are votes. When we spend money on something, we are voting for more of it, although our consumer culture doesn’t want us to think about that. We are encouraged to satisfy our (imagined) needs without a lot of thought about the implications of our choices.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Photo courtesy of Praveen Kumar[/featured-image]
There’s a bigger vote than our dollars or euros however, and that is our time. Time is the biggest vote of all. How we spend our time is a vote for the type of person we aspire to be.
We vote throughout our productive lives – and by “productive lives” I’m not talking about the 30-odd years of the traditional career (which, in itself, is an anachronism), but the time we spend producing each day for our company or the volunteer organization. Every day we vote for more of one thing and less of something else.
Most jobs today offer more room for improvisation and self-expression than people often take. Jazz is like this. So is the game of hockey. Both offer room for individual improvisation within the context of a shared structure and group goal. At work, most of us are in a band but we shy away from the solo opportunity. We look for ways to accompany someone else.
Of course, it’s one thing to think about this in the abstract for a few minutes, but then you realize that…
- You have over 10 (100?) unread emails waiting for your attention.
- The forecast is due.
- The meeting needs to get rescheduled.
- The important customer is angry.
So we miss the room to improvise because we’re busy.
During this season of renewal, I hope you’ll reflect on how you’ve been voting. It’s not important if you’re not perfectly happy with your recent votes. It is important however that you imagine what perfect would look like, and outline the steps you’re going to take to vote differently.
Postscript: I listened to a podcast today featuring Barrett Ward, the founder of FashionABLE, a for-profit company created to provide great products for American consumers and sustainable wages for women in Africa. Here is an example of someone voting for something he believes in, and an opportunity for us to vote for the success of his mission by supporting his company.