Putting the definition of success into context

Seth Godin in his interview on On Being podcast mentions that:

I notice things for a living. In an abundant economy, we do not have enough connection – we feel lonely, and we do not have enough time. If people can offer us a connection, meaning, and a place where we can be our best self, yes, we will seek that out. It may not help you build a profitable business but, it can help you make a difference in your community.

Human beings are hardwired to understand and value scarcity. We find understanding abundance more difficult.
The baby boomers valued materialism and believed in the rags to riches stories because of this. In their generation, they had more time, people were living in communities, and the scarce resource was stuff or physical goods. So, they valued more stuff, and more money. Their definition of a successful person was someone who had more money, more stuff, and better comforts than them. Therefore, the celebrities of that time were movie stars, pop stars, and industrialists, who had more money, more stuff and could afford more comforts. They were the ones who owned or found solutions to deal with the scarce resources at that point and by capitalizing the opportunity.
However, in the last 20 years, with the advent of technology and internet, many things got commoditized. Things became cheaper, and many people, especially in the developed nations could afford necessities. People began to consume more media and information as smartphones got cheaper. More people started to live in isolated habitats. All this abundance created a new scarcity – the lack of time and the sense of community. Therefore, in today’s world, the definition of a successful person is someone who is more focussed in what he does and who leads a tribe. This gave rise to a new breed of celebrities, that is, individuals who capitalized on these scarce resources such as technology leaders, and people who lead movements such as minimalism and eco fashion as these are the ones who are finding solutions to deal with today’s scarcity and creating value around that.
I am a minimalist, and I have always wondered why my parents never understood the concept of minimalism. However, now I know the reason. The things that I value and the things they valued are entirely different. It does not necessarily mean that either of us are right or wrong. We are both right in our ways and in our own contexts.This is a revelation to me because all these while I wondered why my parents did not understand me. Even though that was true, I later, realized even I never saw things from their point of view.

Economics is the science of choice under scarcity. People who know how to make choices around scarce resources create value. The bottom line is if you know how to capitalize on the scarce resources, that is, finding solutions to create value around scarcity, you win.

 

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