Carrots on a String
- Background thinking on the Intelligence home page >
Let's say you have the weekend off. You wake up Saturday morning and brew a cup of speciality espresso you purchased from the local roaster. Let's say you make it in your own Italian machine.
Now, with the warmth of the mug your hands, you stroll over to the window you decorated with real maple venetian blinds. You raise them and look down your street.
Hmmm, the Jackson's just bought a new Tundra truck with the lift kit and custom wheels. It looks really tight, all new and shiny. "I wonder what their monthly payment is", you muse to yourself. "I bet I could swing that."
You take a sip, ahhh, those Indonesian beans are really good this time of year. You turn and glance the other direction. The Williams had a landscape architect re-do their grounds. It looks like a palace, all manicured and perfect. "I should call that guy," you think.
Your cell phone rings. It's the head of your sales division.
"Hey Jack, wondering if you can come in today for a little more work on that presentation. You know if we nail this one and land the Seattle account, the big guy is going to love it."
You're a bit flattered that Tommy is asking for your help, since he's considered the best closer in the business.
"Sure," you reply, "I'll be there in an hour."
On the drive to work you pass The Crane, Executive Golf Club, membership by invitation only. The boss has a membership and if you can nail this presentation and land the account, you might get invited. The annual fee is in the thousands, but it's essential to network with the big guns, and would really pay off in the long run.
Carrots on Conformity
That same morning broke sunny, as they usually do, in a remote Bahamian anchorage. You dropped the hook the night before well before sun down, grilled some burgers on the back deck and retired early, exhausted from the wind and sun. You fall asleep instantly, like a child, because your mind is clear and your body tired from a full day of physical activity.
As is your custom, you awoke naturally with the dawn light. Your alarm clock battery died months ago. You stroll around the deck scanning for anything out of place, your hair ruffled slightly in the soft morning breeze. You can just detect the slightest fragrance of some wild flowers.
The white sand beach in front of you is part of a larger deserted island that rolls off in ripples behind the fluttering palm frontage. There are no footprints in the sand, no roof lines in the trees. As the sun gains elevation, it starts to warm the condensation off the deck slowly erasing your own misty tracks.
The tops of the palms are rustling slightly; it's going to be a perfect sailing day.
The water is peaceful, topped with just the slightest ripples. It's crystal clear to the 8 foot bottom, but the low light angle gives the top of the water a rich steely hue.
Perhaps after some breakfast, you'll go exploring the island or go diving if light is good. Hard to say though, a sail down to Rudder Cut might be fun too, and position you well for the wind shift that's predicted tomorrow.
Maybe you'll do all of the above.
You wonder, briefly, what they are doing back at the office, where no one knows this protected cove even exists. When you mentioned to them you were taking a year off to go sailing, they looked at you with glazed over expressions.
Carrots on Conformity
In a consumer economy, it's in the interest of everyone but yourself to keep your desires limited to things you can see today and buy tomorrow.
Saying no to the truck, the kiss-up with the boss, the Italian espresso and the lawn makeover hurts everyone but you. It's not an accident that all the carrots are dangling from conformity.
The purpose of this website is to enlarge your universe of visible potential rewards. The golf club membership, the fancy coffee, new truck and manicured lawn are fine, if you chose them above all others.
But what if you weren't choosing from the full menu? What if you come to your last chapter having owned a few nice trucks, drank a lot of rich coffee and worked your buns off for the boss that never did invite you to his club?
What if you sold yourself short for the carrot that was the largest, only because it was the one right in front of you?
If you're not sure if you fall into the visible carrot category, ask yourself these questions:
- Did you turn down several job offers until you found the best fit for your skills and goals, or did you take the first offer that came in above your survival salary?
- Did you travel around some, checking out places you would like to live and raise a family, or did you stay where you grew up or move where the job took you?
- Did you sit down after graduation and write down your goals for your life, like what you wanted to do before you are too old to do it?
- Have you taken any steps to accomplish those life desires?
Don't get me wrong, I can't answer yes to any of these either. But, looking back, I realize those failures were due to the visible carrot problem, the inability to imagine a life substantially different than the one you woke up and found yourself in.
It was a mistake.