Sunday, February 10, 2013

We are the 99 percent. We are the elite.

That's right. Economically speaking, YOU are the king of the jungle.

We may be the 99%, but here in North America we've already won the lottery.
The rich, obviously, have more money than the poor. That's what makes them rich.
The Occupy movement has made their point about being the 99% and drawing attention to the income inequality between the elite and everybody else. For the math on this, we could talk about the power law distribution and the Pareto principle, but that doesn't make for exciting reading.
Even with all the income inequality around here we are all among the global elite. It all depends on who you compare yourselves to.
As North Americans we live way beyond what would be considered typical in the rest of the world. $34 thousand/year after taxes (per person) puts you in the top 1% globally, according to a recent CNN Money article. (US dollars, but we're close enough for the point to still be relevant here.)
We're elite, but we feel like we're average: We don't compare ourselves to the past, or to people in the third world.
We compare ourselves to the people we see most often: our neighbours. These are usually people living near us, and with typical housing developments tailored to keep the values of houses pretty close within neighbourhoods no matter where you are, you'll feel average.
If everybody you know owns a million dollar mansion, yours won't feel particularly special. Same goes for a townhouse or a tarp. You'll feel average, because you're comparing yourself with your peers.
You're in the top 50% if you live on more than the world's median income of $1225/year. In Alberta, you can put yourself in the top half worldwide by working 3.5 weeks per year for minimum wage. Of course you probably work more than that and are better off financially than at least half the people in the world.
The points raised in the Occupy movement are still relevant. The relative poverty of the many could cause problems down the road, but that's not a solvable problem until we return to living on current solar income. But that's another story.
For now, enjoy the privileges that come along with being part of the global elite.
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

What makes you awesome?

That's not rhetorical or sarcastic. Think of an answer.
If you're having trouble with that question, try this: What's your superpower?
Got one? Good, because knowing what makes you awesome can help you reverse engineer your values and help you make a difference. Because when you're using your superpower you will feel better about yourself, your role in the world, and the difference you can make in it.
But it's weird? Of course it's weird. Your superpower is by definition something that other people don't do. Doing things that set you apart is risky. You can't hide in the crowd anymore. You can't just sit back and be normal. Well, you could, but don't expect that to satisfy you.
It's that thing that sets you apart that determines where you can make most of an impact. If it makes you awesome, it's already aligned with your values, and you already know what a difference it will make.
It is, of course, easier to sit by the TV and bask in mass media. You don't have to confront any fears there. It's comfortable. You don't have to risk anything.
Easy doesn't let you contribute in the way you need to. Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan were both right in that there are no passengers on spaceship earth, we're all crew. Maintaining the world for the future is going to take all hands on deck.
The job doesn't come with a manual, except the intuition that's already inside you. Being boring and conformist won't move the needle on anything. Other people are already doing that. Instead, find ways to do what makes you awesome, and share that with the world. Shine.
It won't be comfortable, but doing things that make you grow are never comfortable, at least at first.
Get out there. Share what makes you awesome with the community. It's not just a privilege, it's a responsibility too. Expressing your awesomeness gives permission to others to express their awesomeness too.
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