I was sitting at the dinner table a couple of weeks ago with Finns, Americans and Indians overlooking a beautiful sunset on the Finnish lake. I was the youngest of the bunch and all were highly educated people. The conversation turned to what the Americans thought about the credit crunch and how we ended up here.
Answers were: bad lending – greedy people, poor transparency etc etc etc. All makes sense and I agreed.
However, I failed to chime in my two cents at the time – I was enjoying listening for a change (perhaps I’m just becoming more Finn;)
My two cents for how we ended up here.
If we take it a step further, it’s not just poor lending; it’s our North American insatiable appetite – for everything. We want bigger houses, more cars, more trips, more clothes, more food, more, more, more…
So, yes it was greed and poor lending. But, at the end of the day, it was our culture that got us into this mess. We wanted more than we could chew, more than we could afford. And no one was there (not even our morals) to tell us that this was a bad thing. To the contrary, our culture encouraged it.
But, it’s like anything in life. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. A few drinks at the bar, great, a few too many? Bad… Free time, great, too much? Boring…
It’s about the balance. And our addiction to growth is anything but balanced.
Now, not everyone acted like this and due to our complex financial system, we’re all paying for it, whether we knew when to tighten the belt or not. That’s the global society we live in.
I’m reading a book right now called “Deep Economy” and the main point the author gets across is “more ≠ better”. McKibben dives into the problems with our obsession with growth and offers a compelling case for shifting our “growth” focus towards the local economy. End result – a “community” focus that cares about the people and invests in the people.
It’s a thought provoking argument. Especially now when people have lost some 30% of their savings, the question of “where to go from here?” is probably a good question to ask.
That also means asking yourself, “what makes me happy?” Seriously, take some time to ponder this one.
What makes me happy? Well, currently, this one image makes me burst out into laughter (I’m pretty cooky sometimes…) but, overall, I think it’s the simple things that I get a real joy from, like, looking at tree reflections on a lake. But thinking big and seeing big opportunities also gets me incredibly excited.
The Globe has some good reflections on what people are thinking about during this market crisis. Interesting indeed…
So, where do we go from here?
I think, by answering the previous question, you’ve got part of your answer already;)
As for that kitchen table talk, we were all there as a “growth venturing” team. Yep, I’m still in love with the idea of high growth entrepreneurship, where the sky is the limit…
So, when it comes to the “growth” question, looks like I’ve still got some pondering to do;)