Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Doing Well, Being Well

My bubble has an underlying guilt motivator. A cultural wiring of hard work and earning what you get in life. There will often be conversations about whether someone has 'done well' in life. The measures are usually external. Salary, responsibility, authority, conspicuous wealth, titles, degrees or any other signals that you have earned respect. That you aren't seen as a loafer. That you aren't a parasite on society. That you are adding value.

One of the aspects of privilege that I am aware of is that I can opt out of this. I don't consider everything I do as a reflection on other people. I don't consider what they do as a reflection on me. I don't identify with my narrow group. White, male, 25-54, english-speaking, university educated, Top 1% of the global wealth (when I was working, just outside that now that I am not), and a citizen of both South Africa and Britain. I don't come from any oppressed group other than being the youngest sibling. I am significantly taller than my oldest brother, so I am at an advantage in pushing back. When you are part of an oppressed group, I can see the appeal of identifying with that group and proving that they are equal to all. Part of my privilege is that I don't have to.

Tall and Short

My problem with 'doing well' as a measure of success is that it is relative. It also requires external signals that can be measured. As soon as you have to display progress, a lot of energy ends up being put into marketing. Energy gets put into influencing and getting recognition. This ends up attaching expectation to everything we do. I don't like that. I like the idea of being able to do things for their own sake. I like the idea of being able to dive into the internal stuff. The stuff that can't be measured. The stuff that can't be held on to.

I like the idea of being well.
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