The Abundance Economy
or Why You Have to Be the Maker of Your Life
Originally published at www.linkedin.com June, 2014
This week I have been reading The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin and The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin.
I realise they have a common thread: the shifting working paradigm in the abundance economy. OK, what’s this Abundance Economy to start with? And how come I’m struggling to find a job if the economy is about abundance? There should be abundance of jobs, not scarcity!
In the scarcity economy (the one of the XX Century) a brick is a brick, and to build a house you need many of them. To build 2 houses you need twice as many. It’s so simple. Resources are limited and who owns them defines the rules of the game.
In the Abundance Economy, value is less and less linked to physical things, shifting towards knowledge. True, you still need to build houses, but you can create value also out of knowledge, which you can SHARE and — after you create it — can be replicated an unlimited number of times.
More and more it’s not the (metaphorical) brick factory that counts, it’s what you can do with the bricks. It’s about the difference between a dull square brick shelter with no windows and a beautifully designed brick mansion. As Seth Godin says in his book The Icarus Deception, it’s about the art of what you do.
In the scarcity economy — as employees — we had to follow the rules of a production system optimised for efficiency and profitability. We were the square pegs in the square holes designed for efficiency. That’s why job descriptions were so clear cut that you had no chance to get the job if you were not a clone of the former employee that just left. It was a world of clones who gave up their freedom to be themselves, in exchange for the security of a job.
Well, now the times are a-changing, and for good this time! In the abundance economy you don’t want to be a square peg for a square hole. As a square peg you can be easily replicated and made redundant because someone else can do the same thing much cheaper.
You want instead to go back to your life call, that is — hold on tight! — to make your life a piece of art! Or to make art with your life. It’s not any more about living someone else’s dream, it’s about creating it for yourself! Super scary!
make your life a piece of art — make art with your life
Art here doesn’t mean (necessarily) painting or sculpture, it means doing what you are good at and making a difference. It’s not about going down tried and tested roads, rather exploring what you want to do and how to do it, and do it!
It’s about creating value for the society in a way that only you can do, being you-nique. Will the show be a success or a failure? You don’t know till you run it. You can plan in advance what you will do, but you can’t plan your success! You might fail, but each time you will learn what went wrong and will try again, adjusting your art, the value you bring to society, so that it is real value.
Art doesn’t mean “I do what I want”, that’s just child play, rather it means I want to do my best for my audience. An artist without an audience is just pathetic. Any artist will look for an audience for their work. And finding an audience for your art is a quest itself. If you are you-nique, you shouldn’t expect to be liked by all and everyone. Find your audience, which is your niche, and delight them.
Unfortunate, if you felt so well in your false sense of safety and accomplishment by just following someone else’s rules.
A blessing, if you “get it” and finally are allowed to do it! Because the connected economy allows you to look for your audience and share your art much easier than it used to be not long ago. Connectivity itself can be your art.
So, little homework for you: what is that you excel at, what makes you feel alive when you do it, what part of it adds value to society, even just to a small segment of it? When is it that you feel like a running car, or an octopus, or a burning fire? What does it make you feel like that? Answering these questions will help you focus your attention where it really deserves.
I’m Leonardo Zangrando.
I’m passionate about unlocking potential in people and organisations.
I help transform organisations and increase their innovation leverage.
I help people fulfil their true potential in society.
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