The constant grind from all forms of media clamor for our attention. Political punditry, religious rants, and financial forecasts dominate discussions each day. If you believe or support one side, then by inference you must not believe or support the other. Kavanaugh and Kaepernick join company with Pope Francis and President Trump as explosive figures. Any comments about one of these one way drives you away from those who like the other way. How did we get here? Is this really all that matters?
I read a piece recently (Hat Tip to my Mom) about some of Steve Jobs’ final thoughts where he talked about the importance of friends and health (while inspirational, it remains unconfirmed that these were the thoughts of Jobs): Last Thoughts of Steve Jobs. Today, with social media it is easy to think we have thousands of friends but mostly we exist inside an echo chamber, hearing what we want to hear and discarding, even hating, the rest. It can be a comfortable place, probably too comfortable.
We all want both financial and physical health along with the freedom to live and love. On the financial side, we want to be able to earn money; save some of those earnings; invest some of those savings; and finally, be in a position to retire and support ourselves for the remainder of our time. But we are easily distracted.
Reminders From Grandma
I recall visiting with my grandmother when I was in college. As we sat chatting over a couple of beers, I said that “I hated this or that” and she lit into me. She reminded me that it was ok not to like something but it wasn’t okay to hate anything or anyone. She was right of course. From the best I can tell, most of the comments I see on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere each day need some reminders from grandma!
We can certainly benefit from the expression of a wide breadth of thought but we usually don’t listen with fingers pointed in our face. The real masters of communication are those that can persuade without all of the discord.
I recently read a quote from Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Peter Thiel, that resonated with me: “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.” In other words, get out of the comfort of the echo chamber and say what you believe, even if most others don’t.
A Dramatic Shift in Fundamentals
For what it’s worth, I believe in many respects we are probably past the inflection point in several areas including politics. We have a centralized blob that operates as government and that is unlikely to change no matter who is in power except around the margins. There are certainly good people that work in various levels of government but the term “political leader” is an oxymoron and will become even more so as the path to elected office becomes nastier and nastier.
Social media has become a giant spewing pot of politics and can easily divert you from the things that actually matter. Even corporations are targets for one side or the other depending on the cause. If I eat at In and Out Burger (assuming there was one nearby) does that make me a bad person? If I drink coffee at Starbucks does that make me a good person?
Put Your Efforts Where They Matter
Back to Steve Jobs. He talks about things he treasures and things that are not so important. That’s a great way to look upon daily life. Jobs says to “treasure your family, the love of your spouse, and your friends”. Few would argue with that. He also admits that money and wealth are just something he has become accustomed to.
Stop doing things that don’t matter. Understand what you treasure and place your efforts there.
Tune Out the Noise
What matters more is economics and how you make decisions about the scarce resources in your financial life. Ultimately, your life unfolds through a combination of things you decide not to do as well as the affirmative choices you make. These decisions matter a lot more to those that you treasure than do the often-polarizing aspects of politics. Economics trumps (no pun intended) politics…always.
Are you focusing on the things you treasure or just the things making the most noise? Start there. Ready for a real conversation?