As a society, we have become unbalanced between consuming and creating. A key economic metric is “consumer confidence”. We honor “conspicuous consumption” as a sign of “having made it”. The external costs of overconsumption are evident — environmental devastation, distorted investment priorities, and the skewed aspirations of our children.
The internal costs of living life primarily as a consumer are more subtle but have a huge impact on our spirit.
Exuberant living is sustained through creation, not consumption.
As consumers, we ask ourselves “What do I want to buy? How shall I entertain myself? What shall I watch? What shall I listen to? What can I consume that will make me feel good? What can I own – and show off — so that others will admire (or even envy) my success?
A coaching client of mine; a top level executive in a global firm, said to me “I spend 80% of my time just gathering data and generating reports and reading the reports that I require of others. I have lots of ideas to improve our business but I just don’t have the time to create anything new.”
This is all too common at work. We spend our time “consuming” email, project reports, consumer data, and best practice studies. We spend hours each week in meetings just to “stay on top of things”. Many of our new technologies seem to generate even more for us to “consume”.
What if you made “creating” your top priority?
Immediately, new questions emerge. “What do I want to learn? What are my natural gifts? What is my craft? Where shall I acquire tools and experiences to keep advancing my craft? What practices will help me achieve mastery?
What do I care about? Where do I want to be of service? How can I make a meaningful contribution?
What future do I want to create? Where do I want to lead my people?
What projects can I initiate that will grow my skills, and those of the project team and, simultaneously, produce results that I care about? Who are the people that share my values and beliefs? How can I connect and create with them?
I recently told a close colleague of mine about a new book I was reading. Her response stunned me. She said, “I don’t want to hear about what you are reading. Tell me about what you are writing.”
Wow! She wasn’t interested in what I was consuming; she wanted to be “side by side” with me in creating something new.
What resources can you re-allocate from consumption to creation?
Creating is hard. Consuming is much easier. But each time you choose to create you will build more muscle as a creator. And you will experience the unbeatable thrill of bringing something new into world; something that would not have happened if not for you. That feeling never grows old.
Take a close look at where you are spending your time now. What is your ratio of consumption to creation? What do you want it to be?
Your next choice is the important one. It will either move you down the path of “consuming” or “creating”.
What will it be?