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collective success

I recently had a few conversations that left me reeling. They reflected visions of success that, I realized, I rejected completely and absolutely. Viscerally.

This left me with the questions: Why did I reject that vision of success? And given that I rejected it wholesale, what was my own vision of success?

The answer is tied, in part, to the 150 or so books I’ve read since August of last year. Somehow, I couldn’t find the answer to these questions in pages. I had to find it in conversation.

We live in a world of finite resources. Some people are granted access to those resources; others are deprived of them. Generally, those who have access have military or other kinds of power legitimating that access. In short, they retain access by force.

Access isn’t collectively determined, despite that there’s (1) no proclamation from God that resources should be allotted exactly as they are and (2) the collective, past and future, often suffers greatly from lack of access (such as by malnutrition, or death by curable illness) and the consequences of others’ merciless extraction (such as barren land and climate change).

An infinitesimal number of people’s “success” is derived from depriving other people of the resources necessary for their success bare survival.

By this vision, individual “success” is actually collective deprivation.

I’m not interested in individual success obtained by depriving others. I’m interested in a collective success that sees my children and their peers with water to drink, food to eat, and enduring health.

Having (thankfully) been prompted to consider all this, I reach this conclusion: The people most revered as successes for their purported business acumen today will be remembered not as business successes but human failures; not for what they achieved, but for what–and whom–they destroyed to achieve it.

So now the questions before me are: What does it look like to contribute to collective success? How do I become a kind of successful that’s meaningful to me? That my kids will someday celebrate, knowing that I took small steps toward a less destructive, less violent, more sustainable success?

I don’t know, yet. What I do know is that I’m (1) much, much likelier to hit the target now that I know what it is, and (2) glad as can be for the conversations that helped me see what books alone couldn’t.

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  1. November 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I love for a day when we can step away from ‘us and them’ and reallise that our species is, or should be, a community. And, as such should work together.
    I loathe and reject the definitions of success which depend on more and bigger which inevitably mean that someone else has less and smaller (too often to a tipping point where survival is concerned).

    • November 29, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      I so yearn for such a day of acknowledging our interdependence. Whatever I can do to help escort it in, I will, all while continuing to reject the fleeting, dangerous more-and-bigger “success” that only temporarily looks even vaguely pretty.

  1. December 1, 2017 at 1:57 am

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