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Monday, August 2, 2010

The art of consumption

Image courtesy of fabulous illustration artist
 Julia Sonmi Heglund,
Consumption: what does it mean to you? If you are like most people, you are probably thinking of eating a Vegas-style buffet in a Hummer with a proud owner of a fresh pair of double Ds.

With all the (fully justified) negatives we have come to associate with excess consumption, it is time to speak in defense of the artful consumer.

A successful entrepreneur is a successful consumer. One of the key reasons why I am in business is because I am the ULTIMATE consumer. Food, literature, conversation, advice, sunshine... I soak it up.

I wake up in the morning to drown myself in coffee and stuff down my latest email intake of information and stimulation. I love to research recipes and get excited about gourmet food to the point of embarrassment. I bask in moments, hoard clothes, relish conversations and have been known to mistake random immobile objects for pie.

Chew on this: beneath the surface, and we are all animals, roaming for our next titbit of provisions. To see how deep this runs, just look at the language we use in daily life. We are constantly getting offered 'pieces of advice', are spending lazy Sundays 'devouring magazines', or 'gulping down' words. Consumption: we eat it up.
The natural instinct of a human being is to consume. We live in an over-stimulated world where large corporations have devised various mental and physical mechanism to enslave us to our needs. Our wants, needs and deepest desires now all come from magazines, advertisements and word of mouth gossips.
Rather than following our inner desires from 'within' we are now going 'without'. Without guidance, without direction, without satisfaction and without control. We are driven to fill a bottomless pit of emptiness with piles of nothing.
As business people, we have a corporate social responsibility to ensure that whatever product or service it is that we offer, it is creating something of positive value to the world, rather than just feeding more of its perceived 'needs' and 'wants'.
When I think of my label, STOC, I think of abundance. Abundance of products, abundance of creative design, abundance of sales, abundance of people to work with, abundance of friendships, connections and relationships that we make with everyone who is involved inworking with us. I think of endless supplies, endless creative and manufacturing processes, and endless customers to share our work with.
To understand the difference between overstimulated consumption and abundance we need to ask ourselves one question: Am I doing this because of INSPIRATION OR DESPERATION? If we are inspired to do what we love, abundance flows our way and there appears an infinite supply of all the things we need and desire. If we are doing something because we are fearful and desperate to avoid something (poverty, loneliness) we are immediately making ourselves victims of senseless consumption.
If you are in business to help yourself and others do more of what you love, congratulations! You have far to go. If you are in business to buy yourself a job - think again.
To consume well, establish your values and what is important to you and don't compromise. This simple piece of advice has served me in professional as well as personal life. Whilst it may not be perfect, it certainly works far better than the alternative! I've never heard anyone praised for being weak and confused.
An excellent speaker, Amir Zorghi, who runs a daily and weekly email of 'The Quest for Truth', advises us to give whatever it is that we lack, as this is what will give us what we perceive we need.
If you need kindness, give kindness wherever you go. If you are short on support, take care to consciously offer support and help to everyone you come across. Whatever you are seeking, you find it in you.
This applies in business. If you feel there are not enough reliable people in the industry you work in, always stand by your promises. If you feel the workers are often mistreated or underpaid, treat others as you want to be treated. If you feel there needs to be more independent suppliers or creative thinkers, become one!
Use the need for consumption as a tool to give, give, give more and more of your valuable product and service to servce the world. 
If that's not enough, here are the words of GOD: 'Give, and though shall receive'.
Now, be satisfied.
-Victoria A.

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