Ending The Sellout Economy

In Inspiration, Print Issues, She's an Entrepreneur by Victoria Peterson

“Rise and shine, you have to go to work.” Unspoken words of the alarm clock. How often does your soul respond with a resounding “NO!”? 

Exploring the disconnect between our job, our joy and our economy may be a way of bringing more purpose and meaning back into our society as a whole. Let’s begin exploration through the lens of our economic infrastructure. 

Consumer spending is responsible for 73% of the US economy. What is the byproduct of all this spending? I invite you to begin noticing the garbage trucks, the gas station clerks, the hotel maids, the shelf stockers and the Amazon boxers… the many service workers it takes to support this economic infrastructure. Paying attention to the people behind the scenes of our modern world is ground zero in discovering how to level up and bring more meaning into our own daily routine. 

As a society we have supersized everything. Local bed-n-breakfasts became economy inns. Local suppliers became supermarts. Local entertainment became megaplexes. The expansion of the money economy also expanded the need for dehumanizing jobs. 

Ask anyone scrubbing toilets for a living, “Why do you do this?” and the answer is likely, “This is the best/only job I could find. I have to put food on the table.” Society relegates many to sell their mind, talents and soul in exchange for security. 

In essence, our society has collectively created a new form of slavery that has snared almost all of us. The social consciousness says, “Do this job or starve and be homeless.” 

And, here is the dirty secret, as our personal appetite for consumption of goods and services rose to unsustainable levels, we all played a part in the creation of this sellout economy. 

In our hearts we know this is true. It is difficult to look at restroom attendants or those doing menial tasks in the eyes. We sense the loss of dignity and the waste of human potential. 

So, what does this have to do with me? In many ways, our consumerism points directly toward a loss of our inner connection to self and one another. Big business knows this and has actually systematically designed our world to keep us emotionally apart. Disengagement from our food source, accumulation of things, and craving of entertainment as a distraction from our own emptiness keeps the sellout economy spinning round and round. 

There it is, our collective unspoken truth. Consumption has become a replacement for true connection, respect, self-expression, development of our own talents… a balm for our inner turmoil. 

But no more. COVID-19 shut down the sellout economy. We’ve learned to live with less and to BE more. It was (is) scary for us to think about losing the security of our jobs, the dwindling of savings, the fear that we will lose our businesses or homes. The grief over lost loved ones is real, and in the midst of all of this there is also another reality… 

“Exploring the disconnect between our job, our joy and our economy may be a way of bringing more purpose and meaning back into our society as a whole.”

The reality of the gift of time, connection and creativity. Our desire for genuine relationships began trumping the excitement of another disposable bobble. The search for inner truth over outer influence is on the rise. Collectively, communities are taking back their power and owning their voice. 

For some, this has been a painful time of reckoning, as we discovered our outer world of gaining more wasn’t matching our inner desire of giving more. We lost our way, and the COVID time-out helped us find the path back to ourselves. 

Fully awake and aware, how do we make more conscious choices? For me, it’s comes down to asking two simple questions: 

What can I DeW? 

What will I DeW? 

What can I DeW? This question directs me to lean into my strengths and discover how I can express my unique talents.

My top strengths help me to seek new paths through learning, then connecting the dots and activating new models of business. These are my natural gifts and talents. Regardless of my role, from gas station attendant (yes, I did that and cleaned the toilets) to CEO of an Inc5000 company, I will be learning, connecting dots and discovering new ways to accomplish things. 

What will I DeW? This question inspires me to action. My talents today are engaged primarily in strategic planning for my company, public speaking, writing and facilitation of group discussions to support others’ growth. These are the things that provide my life with purpose and meaning regardless of financial status, restrictions in travel and all the other perceived hardships of 2020. 

In each moment, we can look at a situation and ask, “What can I DeW? What will I DeW?” This cadence invites us to live in integrity with our word. There is so much we can do in any given day. The follow-up question shapes priority and purpose; it is rooted in our core values. 

As my friend Anna Stephens has said, “I have learned that I can be in hard times and stand on a firm foundation of my values.” 

. . . 

“Rise and shine, it’s time to co-create.” Unspoken words of my entrepreneur’s soul. 

Work provides us with more than money. For most entrepreneurs, it is a calling, a choiceless choice in the way we move through life. We are willing to be the trailblazers, to cut through the noise and bring beauty into the world. We create jobs, we sustain communities, we enliven the spirits of those we meet. 

The invitation before each of us is to be aware of how our businesses add to the disposable, consumptive economy versus a more sustainable, balanced world. As a leader, asking the questions, “What can I DeW? What am I willing to DeW?” provides clarity to seek a better way. 

Perhaps from this place of common ground we can each do our part to chip away at the sellout economy.