Monday, January 11, 2016

#11 / Rushing Up The Ladder

That's Susie Pan in the middle, the one with the "bright idea" tee-shirt and the red pants. Pan is the Marketing Manager for a Silicon Valley based company called Wirkin

On Monday, December 21, 2015, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an essay that Pan had published earlier on a Life Tips blog. Her essay was carried in the Chronicle under the headline: "No Need to rush up ladder." On Life Tips, the article was titled "You're only 23. Stop rushing life."

"Stop rushing life" is good advice (take it from someone who has almost fifty years' head start on Pan). I think Pan's article is worth reading. 

However, I must admit that I was taken aback by Pan's closing:

I just spent the last 3 hours sitting in Indigo after work, picked up a book, and read it cover to cover. I don’t remember when was the last time I did that. I don’t know what prompted me to do this either. But it felt great. I forget what it felt like to be sucked into a good book and have your mind be taken somewhere else. And I forced myself to finish it even though my mind was telling me I had 1000 other things to do and worry about.

And guess what? It was OK.

Was it productive? Debatable. Was it a waste of time? No. Did I sell a company? Nope. Will I sell a company (or create enough value in society to have monetary returns) in the next 2 years? I don’t know. But even if I don’t, that’s OK. As long as I have learned something, and that I’ve created some value in someone’s life, today was a good day.

I’m only 23. And yes, in 1.5 years, I will be 1/4 of a century old. But that gives me 3/4 of a century more to keep learning and creating value... 

I do hope Susie Pan will live to be a hundred years old, though I'm not so sure that's going to be a slam dunk, given some of the challenges that we are all facing, as our human activities tax the life-sustaining capabilities of Planet Earth. However, whatever life is stretching out ahead, for Susie or for any one of us, it gives me pause to think that we might restrict our idea about the "purpose" of that life to "creating value." 

I think that phrase is all too easily translated into the idea that the purpose of our life and efforts ought to be ensuring that the corporations with which we are associated are ever more economically successful (tying our own economic success to the success of those companies, of course, which we either sell, or don't). 

Whether you rush or amble as you move up the ladder, and whether you speed up or slow down as you move through life, "creating value" (if that means "money") is not the best way to define our ends!

That's my opinion, of course. For what it's worth. A lot of the "value" in our lives doesn't need to be "created." 

We can, for instance, appreciate (and help protect) the World of Nature, which we are so privileged to inhabit, and which is of supreme value to us, and which, of course, we didn't create at all.

And then: we can read some more books!

Image Credits: 
(1) -
(2) - Gary Patton personal photograph

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