Part One: Feeling Shaky
We took our eye off the ball. I’m writing, of course, about the current political turmoil south of the Canadian border in the United States and its ripple effect felt around the world. Turning away from my company-building activities and website analytics for a moment, I think to myself, how did we end up here?
I know how I personally ended up here. I was, and possibly still am, socially unconscious. For me, things are pretty comfortable. I like my job. I got married. I went away to university, got hired, started a business. After work I go to the gym, go out for dinner, see my friends. As a Canadian, I take social security for granted. I’m safe, nourished, and healthy.
But…In just the blink of an eye I’ve started to feel uncomfortable as a result of political processes south of the border. My sense of equilibrium was lost as the ground underneath me felt unstable, rocked by the quakes of an unhealthy malnourished society.
I tried to process and to work this out. What if we nourished our society with the same effort as we give to nourishing the self? What would that nourishment look like? Citizens with diverse problems that talk to each other? Folks, like me, not staring at my desk but getting out there and working on societal issues with the same vigor as I do at my job?
Why haven’t we done that so far? After some introspection, I’ve decided that this was what was true for me – neglecting the bigger picture is a function of how much money I have in the bank. Yes, I said it, money. It almost feels to me like I’m opening myself up to scorn from myself and from others by admitting that for me, money has been a source of comfort, and lack of funds has been a source of discomfort. Money is not the motivation, it’s not the goal, but it’s so so often the means. Money means I can hire more people, afford the gym, go out to the movies with my friends. If I think of my life as one turn on a 24-hour clock, then a lot of my time is already up, and I’ve spent most of it getting fit, getting educated, and earning a living. Yes, I’m a regular volunteer, but I’m mainly trying to get to a state of personal stability, by earning money.
It is this personal feeling of stability and the right amount of personal safety/ security/ belonging which has led me to the right timing and temperament (described as “metamotivation” by Abe Maslow), to turn my lens towards my social contribution. But is it too late now? In my opinion, there’s no “right” amount of time or minimum time requirement for an individual to spend thinking about societal issues. My thesis of this article is that it is our struggle to get to this headspace that results in fragmented, disjoined, unsynchronized efforts, and our cyclical societal problems.
So then, how can I/we get from individual-thinking and into a social consciousness?
Part Two: Waking up
What if we formally changed our reward system in all aspects of our life? If money is distracting us from finding social stability, could we possibly redirect money and reimagine our reward system?
What if individuals choosing social impact careers were the highest paid and most rewarded members of society? The same structural system that puts us to sleep socially could awaken our best and brightest minds towards community contribution.
We could reward our students for an emphasis and achievements in social studies. We could reward our businesses with tax incentives designed to support employee social activities.
Immediately we could and should reward our employees for social activities and initiatives. Google offers its employees 20% of work time or one day per week to work on anything that helps Google. Wow! That’s the same as offering fifty two additional vacation days. For companies that want to participate, but don’t have a Google-sized bank balance, what about government tax incentives or government/foundation funding matches for employee bonus days (or weeks) off to support social impact activities? Or company encouraged/sponsored breakfast activities before the work day? Or company-organization/participation in weekend social impact hackathons?
I’m sure that there already are structural frameworks, best practices and supporting organizations and I’ll need to do my research to find out more. If we are going to change the reward system, we must reward most highly the people and organizations who develop, facilitate and organize social impact activities with tireless commitment.
Whatever my next steps are, I can definitely start now even if I start small. I’m “meta- motivated” to write about this topic, but it took me a long time to get here. There will always be thinkers whose polarizing views are shunned by the majority. When we decide to let them into our mainstream thinking, it means that we, the mainstream, missed something important.
I’m starting to wake up from social unconsciousness.
– CEO, Clausehound Inc.
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Rajah is the Founder and CEO of Clausehound.com — a $10 per month DIY Legal Library containing tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentary and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.