Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
1: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed sustainable energy resources; a sustainable water supply
2: involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources sustainable agriculture/farming/techniques
3: able to last or continue for a long time sustainable development/growth
Have you ever noticed the hustlers around you? You know, the people working two or three side gigs, driving Uber Eats every evening, and staying incredibly busy? Some of these folks get little sleep and are very proud of their ability to work excessive hours and multiple jobs. They seem to have infinite sources of energy and an amazing ability to keep going. These ‘hustlers’ don’t really HAVE to work that much, it’s just their path toward having enough money (whatever ‘enough’ is, see Episode 20: Enough for more on that).
You have probably also noticed the folks who have to work that hard and for that many hours JUST TO GET BY. I have a lot more sympathy for this second group because it’s not their choice. See Episode 13: Slavery for more on THAT.
Regardless of the motivation, be it surviving or thriving, you probably see many of these people doing or achieving seemingly impossible things during the same 24 hour day you and I have.
This is what I’m getting at with this Episode.
To these people I always think to myself, “This isn’t sustainable”.
At first I thought maybe I was just making excuse for why *I* couldn’t achieve as much as these folks in my 24-hour day. These levels of achievement and work hours can make one feel inadequate. But this goes beyond jealousy or envy. My concern is for the long-term.
Because, sure, anyone can hustle on the short term. We have all had short periods in our lives where we have to work extra hard and extra long. The first six months of raising children, for example. That time at work when you’re working toward a promotion. Writing your book.
But with these efforts, we believe the struggle is short-lived and will END in the not-to-distant future. This makes it ok.
What I’m talking about is the people who don’t get this.
So many things are UNSUSTAINABLE. Meaning, they are too SOMETHING (intense, demanding, heavy, difficult, strenuous, etc) to be continued for a long period of time.
Sprinting up a hill
Carrying heavy weight
It’s just physics. Yet many of us try to beat the system. And not only does this concern me, for our individual and collective welfare, but it’s CHEATING
You heard me. Long-term, life threatening, dangerous sustained effort is CHEATING. It’s Gaming the System (and for more on THAT, see Episode 3: Gaming the System).
When something isn’t sustainable, it is a signal that you’re doing something wrong. Or, you are making a sacrifice over a short-term.
You can’t sacrifice continually. It doesn’t work like that. Once demand exhausts supply the game is over. There is no ‘going into debt’, only bankruptcy.
These are the basic principles of physics, ecology, and economics.
Yet, everywhere you look you will see people undergoing intentionally unsustainable activities. To get richer, prettier, healthier, or more powerful.
We think we are gaming the system, but we are really harming ourselves and others.
I hope you enjoy this episode and choose to like, subscribe or follow. The best place to stay up to date is by following my blog, subscribing to the podcast or the YouTube channel.
Are you familiar with the term ‘sustainability’? You may have heard it in the context of environmentalism, and that is a valid use. I actually came to the term via my Ecology and Evolutionary Biology training.
I think sustainability is simply about being aware that things run out.
My favorite definition is something like:
Making sure what you use doesn’t get used up.
In the context of The Are vs Should Problem, I think sustainability is related to our ‘Are’.
In other words, I don’t think living unsustainably in any way, except in rare cases that are extremely short-lived, is wrong.
In an environmental sense, this means we need to get our heads around our fossil fuel consumption IMMEDIATELY. Like, yesterday. That’s not a value judgement, that’s a sustainability issue.
With respect to our personal growth, we need to make sure the changes we implement are do-able over the long term. That the energy we use doesn’t get used up during the healing process. I think this is an often overlooked element of healing.
This week I’ll unwrap the idea of Sustainability in an ecological sense but also with respect to personal growth and healing.
Thinking about the person you ARE and the person you feel like you SHOULD BE can be confusing. I think we mostly know when we are doing something that fits with our ‘core values’, but sometimes we don’t.
Have you ever wondered what your motivation is in a certain situation?
For example, you find a $50 bill on the ground. Do you immediately stuff it in your pocket? Do you look around to see who might have dropped it? Or do you pause for a moment and wonder what to do?
Ok, sure. So more people than usual are not working. Makes sense. There was some unemployment incentives, a little extra cash, extended for a longer period of time. That probably made not working and being on unemployment more attractive for a while. There were also eviction moratoria across the U.S. that reduced monthly expenses for a lot of renters. And, sure, there was some fear about being around a lot of people; especially in the food industry that was hit very hard by job losses.
And on the business side there was encouragement to KEEP workers due to the PPE money.
The point is, there was a lot of money artificially pumped into the economy to keep us afloat while businesses ‘took the hit’ because no one would be spending any money, people would get laid off as a result, and our economy would tank.
Instead, what I have seen, and heard, and read about, is some businesses doing extremely and surprisingly well during the pandemic. Fast food and restaurants pivoted, closed their dining rooms and focused on to-go and drive through service. Breweries switched to canned six-packs delivered. And on and on.
But even more surprisingly it seemed that everyone and their sister started being or remodeling their homes. People moved from the city to the country to buy more square footage with pools, home offices, and workout rooms. People who already lived in the country remodeled their kitchen and added a bonus room. But like the service industry, many of the suppliers could not have people in the factories and the supply of materials and homes could not keep up with demand. Which drove the prices up. But that didn’t stop anybody.
And maybe that’s what’s so surprising to me. Not only are we not supposed to have the money to buy things now, we are spending money on things we don’t necessarily need. And on top of THAT, we are paying too much for those things.
Does that sound like a busted economy to you?
How in the world can the economy be so healthy that people can afford to not work as a result of a global pandemic?
So the next question is, are people just incredibly stupid, about to be broke, and headed for homelessness? Some would say yes but there is little evidence to support that theory.
The theories are all over the place. By the time I post this there will likely be twice as many articles online but I’ll post a few:
Over the last few weeks we’ve been hearing a lot about people quitting their jobs and not going back to work. Some economist coined the term, ‘The Great Resignation’ to describe this more-than-usual number of people leaving the workforce. Also called the ‘Big Quit’, there are something like 5 Million more people not working than there would be without Covid.
And I have been wrestling with what I see as a contradiction to all this unemployment. When I look around I see businesses with more work than they know what to do with. Sure, some restaurants aren’t as busy, but they are the ones complaining that they can’t find anyone to work. And contractors have more work than usual, but no laborers to do it. Something is going on that doesn’t make much sense.
There’s a lot happening, and it could be my own myopic viewpoint, but I think there is great confusion in the US economy right now with so many people ‘not working’ yet so much work to be done. No one’s working but everyone is buying or remodeling a house?
This week I’ll explore my thoughts, share a bunch of links to various articles sharing their thoughts, and ask you what you think. Preview below, full Episodes this Friday at http://www.chrisburcher.com.
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I learned about the personal inventory reading Carlos Castaneda’s book series about Don Juan and the Toltec ‘men and women of knowledge’.
The idea of a personal inventory describes the process of examining one’s total life from every possible angle. By looking inward and examining one’s life, we can summarize all the things that we have done, what has happened to us, our system of beliefs, and what comprises our ‘self’. This is a metaphysical list of our interests, quirks, tastes, ideas, opinions, coupled with our history and experiences.
In essence, the personal inventory is all of the things that make you, you. It is the comprehensive descriptive list of you.
Think about how complex that is; and seemingly infinite. But the personal inventory is not infinite. It is very much finite. And it is very much different for every person.
A personal inventory is as unique as you are, and it describes your uniqueness.
And the process of figuring out who you are is fundamental to progress.
At the very least this process will help you figure out your Values (Episode 46) which are the backbone to personal growth.
And the personal inventory is not just a one time deal. This can be a dynamic process we use throughout our lives to check-in and remember where (and who) we are.
Sure, the first time through can be exhausting and take a while. But after that it’s fairly easy to remind yourself of the fundamentals, add new things, and check in.
More than anything, going through the motions of examining your life, really spending some time on it, and looking at who you are is only going to help.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic or negative I am sharing my thoughts about a topic near and dear to me. More often than no, I believe people suck at their jobs. I don’t think this suckage is always intentional and I do not believe people WANT to suck at their jobs. I am not here to blame individuals for their suckage nor to suggest this is necessarily related to the individuals.
My point here is to suggest that there is a problem with the SYSTEM of employment, work, the market, whatever. The arena ‘out there’ we participate in from multiple sides. We are simultaneously the consumer, the client, the employed, and the employer. We are the consumer and the consumed. We are supply and demand. We are it and it is us. And so the irritatingly slow service we get at a restaurant is as much our fault as anyone involved.
With THAT out of the way let me list a few examples from my personal life that have happened over the past couple of weeks whereI encountered someone sucking at their job:
-the employee at Home Depot who didn’t feel like finding the ‘customer needing assistance in plumbing’ and either didn’t respond to the request or was going to take an hour to reach me
-the drive thru attendant at McDonalds who thought it was appropriate to share their life story (inappropriate level of detail) with me rather than give me my credit card back
-the general contractor who thought it was cool to tell me, repeatedly, he was emailing me a quote but never intended (apparently) to do so even after multiple conversations and texts
-the electrician who thinks ‘next week’ means ‘whenever he feels like it but much longer than two weeks’
-the state employees who contradict each other about the steps to take to renew a passport and where said steps are to occur
-the bank employee who thinks ‘direct deposit’ means ‘mail a check’
-the bank teller who can’t look up my account from my id (standard procedure and preferred), but requires my account number (normal way I do it)
I could go on.
And a lot of these might be related to incompetence. Often the employees’ misbehavior is a result of simply being disgruntled. And mostly I can empathize and even agree with these sentiments. Many of these jobs suck, convey suckage, and perpetuate that message to the client/customer/consumer. I get that.
And sometimes staff are more afraid of their bosses’ reaction than a customers. I get that, too. While I have seen customers be rude, I have seen more bosses to tyrannical. Again, I sympathize.
And more than anything I get that the work conditions, pay rate, hours, and commute inherent to many of these jobs (especially the hourly pay rate) SUCK so bad that it is nearly impossible to convey positivity to the customer.
I get all that – it’s not that I don’t understand WHY the behavior is occurring. No, what amazes me is that it is allowed to perpetuate. I don’t blame the EMPLOYEE, I blame the SYSTEM.
Call me naive, because I am, but I fundamentally believe there is a solution to this, and really almost any, problem. And if you have listened to my Accountability (Episode 68) episode you know where I stand on this issue. So what gets me, when I see an employee act questionably, is why they persist in the SYSTEM.
Because, checks and balances. Adaptive management. RIGHT? Don’t we HAVE these things? Aren’t we sophisticated human beings that put taxpayers in SPACE and drive around with smart phones?
So when I see misbehavior in the market place, I conclude that the SYSTEM is screwed somewhere FAR upstream from the problem I am observing. And I’m right about that. We SEE the symptoms, not the problem.
And SOLUTIONS to these problems also lie upstream. For a start, how about the whole shareholder model? When businesses exist to profit for shareholders, I don’t see solutions to problems related to employees and customers – because THAT’S NOT WHAT THE BUSINESS DOES.
Do you know what I mean? I’m not trying to sound harsh, because obviously not EVERYONE sucks at their jobs, but I find myself saying this over and over again in my daily life.
It may be the CEO of the famous social media company that can’t seem to tell the truth nor make good decisions about our privacy or his responsibility.
It maybe the doctor with the horrible bedside manner.
It could just be the asshole at the coffee shop who can’t seem to take your order without insulting you or someone else.
Hell, it could just be the person in Home Depot who, rather than help you find what you’re looking for simply tells you, ‘I don’t work in that department.’
At some point in the not-so-distant past you have had an experience with an employee who not only let you down, but left you wondering how they could possibly still have their job. That is what I’m talking about this week.
It’s a real conundrum, because, like Competition (see Episode 6) which is supposed to regulate free markets (but doesn’t, spoiler alert), there are supposed to be checks and balances that reduce the propensity for people to hold jobs when they do them poorly.
The beginning of my investigation into the ‘Are vs. Should Problem’, or the struggle many of us experience between the person we ARE and the person we feel like we SHOULD BE.
Have you ever experienced this? Most people I ask say, ‘doesn’t everyone?’. But I really don’t know. All I can say is that I, personally, often feel like I have a natural reaction to a given situation or decision that is intimately coupled with one or more alternative decisions. Usually that first inclination comes from what I feel is ‘me’, while the alternatives come from . . . somewhere else.
I believe we get ‘shoulded’ by our families, our churches, our schools, our jobs, our neighborhoods, our cultures, and other ‘outside’ sources.
And by ‘shoulded’, I mean that we are taught norms and rules that we are supposed to obey, whether they make sense to us or not. And the struggle, or the dissonance, occurs when our ‘feelings’ differ from what we are taught.
The example I always use, and what started it for me, is about work. Most of us are taught that we have to work at least 40 hours a week at some kind of 9-5 job in order to live our lives. Personally, I have always rejected this notion and am convinced there is another way. I don’t understand why so many institutions impose this sort of norm. My ‘are’ says I can justify my existence, make a contribution to society, and earn money to support myself by working 20-30 hours a week on my own schedule as long as i get my work done. And usually this is MORE than most people would do in their 40 hour 9-5. But, the ‘should’ of the career world just doesn’t support this notion and I have a conflict. And a struggle.
Maybe that’s a bad example, but I go into much more depth in this episode and the following 18, so far, where I get into the details.