Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 180, August 2014 )
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I'm writing this from Bali, where I'm sitting in the outdoor part of our private villa, probably 800 square feet outside the house, with a covered "study" overlooking our private pool and the Indian Ocean beyond. It is as sumptuous and profoundly relaxing as it sounds, with an early morning rain just departed and the gentle roar of surf a hundred feet below.
We live in an unprecedented world, and that is not a cliché. For hundreds of years in the past, most aspects of life hardly changed at all. In the age of sail, up to the 19th Century, when this trip to Bali would have required four months and extraordinary deprivations, the world was a consistent place. Matters of medicine, military, communication, and government did not change radically.
Today, I sit here in an exotic setting, writing on a lap top computer, using the global internet, residing in a luxury hotel with every amenity one could want, yet consistent with the surrounding environment and culture. We came via Dubai and Emirate Air, a city that was once a sleepy backwater and an airline that didn't exist all that long ago. Now Dubai is a world crossroads and Emirates flies more flights daily than any other carrier.
It's not just a world constantly changing that is significant, it's the juxtaposition of the changes. The opportunities exist in how we synthesize the changes to improve our lives and the lives of others. I can run my business with a phone and a computer from virtually anywhere. (I've made more money while traveling in July than many people make in one place in a year, and I'm constantly thankful for that ability.) I can stay in touch with clients from the pool, maintain my Forum from afar (Alansforums.com), and easily complete this and another five newsletters on schedule.
It's not the change, it's the synthesis of change that provides those who are interested with great opportunity. We can find something we need online without leaving the house and have FedEx deliver it almost immediately. A dentist can take an X-ray and immediately correct a problem, and a doctor can participate in a diagnosis virtually, from long distances. We can create global customers with personal service. We can see our dogs while we travel.
I've never wanted merely more technology, I've wanted technology that can improve and augment other advances around me. I can choose to be reachable or non-reachable. But I'm always expanding my reach.
The human condition: Povertitis
I grew up poor. There is no other kind or politically correct phrase. Almost all of my friends were also poor, so we didn't worry a whole lot about it. But I did find myself thinking that someday I wanted to be able to buy things and go places that my parents had simply given up on.
When I was an exchange student, from an inner city school, the kid from Finland (my counterpart) and I kept getting thrown out (literally and physically) from first class accommodations on the Queen Mary, channel steamers, and trains. We'd sneak in from the lower class, and the crew would inevitably find us and toss us down the stairs or out in the rain. Once again, I vowed I'd travel in style some day.
However, for many people, the habits of poverty are not erased by the heyday of plenty. Even though they now live better than most, they hesitate to pick up a check, leave inadequate gratuities when they do, and will often spend hours trying to save a few bucks. They continue to deny themselves because denial has become part of their ethos, reflective not of current reality but of history.
This "povertitis" is the condition of having a poverty mentality when one should have an abundance mentality. A poverty mentality emphasizes savings and conservation, while an abundance mentality stresses confidence and consideration. Too many people are spending thousands in order to save hundreds. They act as martyrs to their own past, denying themselves developmental, recreational, and learning opportunities in order to conserve money.
Wealth isn't about money. Wealth is about discretionary time. I can always earn another dollar but I cannot make another minute. My intent is to invest in my life, not save until it's over.
I can't cook a thing, can barely make a sandwich, and this is widely known. Not long ago, my wife had to be at a board meeting for a considerable time, so she left food in the microwave for me and a large post-it note on the door which said: JUST DO THIS: THE OVEN IS PRE-SET. PUSH '"ON" AND WHEN THE COUNTER GOES TO ZERO YOU'LL HEAR A BEEP. REMOVE THE FOOD AND EAT IT.
I was somewhat offended by the tone but I was also hungry at lunch time, so I did what I was told and watched the digits descend to 0, then heard the beep. But try as I might, I could not open the door. It would not budge. After ten minutes of trying and the dogs staring impatiently (they share my lunches), I left to go get some take-out.
When my wife retuned I told her the oven was broken and it wasn't my fault the door wouldn't open. She lifted her post-it note, under which was a button that said "open."
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