Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to stop thinking about the recession

This Guardian piece sums up the state of the UK economy for me. We have no plan not just for growth, but for sustainability either. It's questionable whether we need the former, but without the latter, we're pretty screwed.

It's becoming clear that we're about to hit a period where we've run out of strategy, which in practical terms means that we've run out of status quo opportunity: those who have resources will be fine. Those who do not will suffer.

At least, that's how it will play out for those who follow the "rules". In harsh times, a competitive system will be anything but fair or level - something I kind of figured out a long time ago. Resources will breed resources. Money will breed money.

The upside - and this is essential to understand - is that power is no longer limited to money. The old resources have been augmented and shifted - subtly, but subtly enough for it to matter.

In the coming hard times, those who follow money as the competitive decider will lose out to whoever has more. This is similar to tai chi, which starts out by saying that those who rely on strength will lose once they meet a stronger force. This is an unsustainable, unbalanced, unwinnable system.

The real way to "win" is not to compete, but to connect - to utilise networks, knowledge, creativity and sharing as a new form of power.

This is why sustainability is more important than growth. Growth is an outcome, not a goal. To grow, we need to focus on nurturing ourselves - as a whole, as a system - rather than competing with others. If we compete, there can only be one winner. If we share, we return to a future that has meaning, promise, and variable growth as and when.

The real divide is not between the haves vs the have-nots - if you think this, you're in the wrong mindset. We all have, and we all don't have.

The real divide is between those who want to connect, and those who will carry on fighting.

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