The economics of discomfort

There’s a great post on CNET about the Future of Capitalism.  I won’t retell the whole thing here, but it provides a great answer to my previous post, If feedback is so great, why is it so hard? It’s not a direct answer, but see if this makes sense:  feedback is hard because it acknowledges that control of your future involves lots of other people. And this feels scary, arbitrary, and unpredictable.

source: wikipedia

source: wikipedia

If you are working in a job with a boss, you can work with that one person to agree on your future.  If you have a bad boss, this isn’t so great, but you can go find another more agreeable one and move on up.  This is the source of much of the negative political behavior in today’s stereotypical corporate environment.

If the future of capitalism involves recapitalizing assets that have been undervalued, then behavior strategies popularized by characters like Michael Scott of The Office are doomed.

Your talent represents a great asset… something you can trade, hedge, remix, or share to generate value that others will buy.  So you can use your talent to work in Chris Anderson’s “Free Economy” to earn a living.  But you have to invest with your asset and add value to the abundant, free resources through aggregation, synthesis, distribution, and other means of improvement.  You must use your knowledge, skill, attributes, and experience as a unique lever to create new things like a service experience, an insightful article, an assembled computer, or beautiful music.

In the days when a person worked a lifetime for a company (or a land-owner), the responsibility to take care of your talent belonged to them.  And all benefits of using your talent went to them.  In this emerging new economy, technology has enabled you to benefit directly from your talent like never before.  I won’t get into all the political scenarios being mentioned out there, but the bottom line is that individuals have increasing freedom to make something happen in their lives if they aren’t happy with the more traditional approaches to work.

But freedom comes with responsibility (darn).  And this is where the answer on feedback comes in…  markets are really good at finding stuff that works, and even better at culling out stuff that doesn’t.  Feedback is hard because it involves finding out what parts of your offer are not working for others, and often represents resistance to your aspirations.  And it’s not only your opinion that counts, it’s the opinions of the social group around you that assemble into a shared reality-of-you that count.  And feedback is the only way to discover and make sense of those opinions.

Investing with your talent in this kind of economy can be extremely uncomfortable.  As the saying goes, The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.