Saturday, March 13, 2010

Value Creation

DHS 122
(My Bodaisatta-sama is getting pretty scrawny lately. I think i need to practice or take more time to scribble him/her.)


Dora looked concerned. "Don't you want to know about 'Chi' and 'Gyo?' Wisdom and action."

I hesitated, and sat down again. ...

Dora smiled, thinking I'd just been joking. "Right. So, you've identified your goal and put status to the back of your mind. Now you've got to work out how to get to where you want to go. ... That's where your wisdom comes in. You've got to rack your brain to figure out how to reach your goal. And, action is just what you do to get there, based on your wisdom. Trial and error. A bit at a time."

"The problem, Dora," I said, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice, "is you make it sound so simple, and it's not."

"It is simple. But simple doesn't mean easy. Climbing Everest is simple, you just keep going up. But, it's also difficult, so a lot of people don't even try. Or give up when it gets too hard."

"Perseverance wins."


She sounded positively triumphant, as if the penny had dropped with a particularly thick pupil. "It's what Geoff said."

"Well he ain't wrong." ... "The key," she said,... "is fixing the goal in your heart."


"So," she said, "you know what your goal is."

"Write a best seller."

"OK, but you need to work out how to get there, and still pay the mortgage, keep the lights switched on. Eat, vital. And have a bit of fun every now and then."

"That'd be nice."

She smiled.

"Geoff said I need a job that's perfect for my life right now, as a stepping stone to where I want to go."

"OK. Well, I think there are three elements to every job: Beauty, gain, and good."

"More Buddhism?" I was beginning to suspect it everywhere.

"No..." she said.

"Ah." I was surprised.

"... though the principle was developed by a Buddhist."

I smiled. There we are then. "And what principle is that?"

"Value creation."

"Which is?"

"Basically that everything is neutral and only gets a value, positive or negative, through how we relate to it. And these values are beauty, gain, and good."


"Right. Say you've got the world's largest diamond. Is it valuable? Yes, if you can sell it. But if you can't, what's it's value? Which still means it's value depends on how you relate to it. Beauty is how much you like something, the pleasure you get from it. Gain is the benefit you get from it, which would be money, of course, if you can sell it. And good is how much it does for everyone's happiness and well-being."

I digested this for a moment. "You're saying we give value to things?"

"Almost. The value is created through our relationship to that thing. Our attitude."

"And this relates to work?"

"It relates to everything, darling." Dora smiled. "The more value we create, especially for other people, the happier we are."

"OK, but ... work?"

"Beauty is how much you like a job. Gain is mainly how much you get paid for it, though you could get other benefits too, like experience. And good is what it contributes to society. And different jobs have different amounts of beauty and gain and good for different people. For example, advertising might give you a lot of gain, but some people say it doesn't do much good."

"Hmmm, it helps the economy."

"Which is what other people say, especially if they're in advertising. Anyway, at the other end of the scale, nursing does a lot of good but it doesn't give you a lot of gain."

"Meaning it doesn't pay much."

"Right. Though you might benefit a lot from learning about human nature or stuff like that. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How much you like the job is down to you and can change. You might love being in advertising, love the salary, and then start to wonder if you're actually doing any good, and go on and become a nurse."

"Or you might start out all idealistic and work as a nurse and then get hacked off at having no money and go into advertising."

"Exactly. And often people stay in jobs they really don't like because either the money's so good or they think they're doing something really worthwhile. But, the point is, people are always juggling beauty, gain, and good in their work, even if they don't see it in these terms.


"Make any sense? With your old job, for example?"

"Well, beauty... definitely no. Pretty much loathed every minute."

"Anything you didn't loath?"

"Some of the people. There was a kind of grim satisfaction, I suppose, in turning something unreadable into a half decent article."


"Hmmm... not a lot. Definitely not enough for the stress involved."

"OK. And good?"

"Hmmm... not that I could see. No one ever read it."

"Right. So a pretty low score on all three."

"Yep. Bottom job all around."

"Whereas writing a best seller..."

"Well, lots of gain, obviously. Lots of good, because if it sells a lot I'll be meeting a lot of need in a lot of people. Right?"

"In some way, yes. And beauty? Will you actually enjoy the writing; all those hours alone slaving over a hot keyboard?"

"Good question. I don't know, until I try it."

Dora studied me thoughtfully, as if uncertainty was tattooed across my forehead. "Does it help? Thinking about work in this way?"

"Sort of, but until I apply it to this perfect job you're gonna find me..."

She laughed. "Point taken," and unpeeled a fresh sheet of paper from her stack.

Half an hour later, after a rigorous application of beauty, gain, and good to my life and skills, Dora came up with the perfect next step for me. Business writing.

"I just did that," I groaned.

"I'm not talking about the internet," Dora infused. "Businesses have all sorts of things that need writing — brochures, marketing material, newsletters, company magazines, lots of stuff. You could work in a PR department somewhere. Or even a PR company."

I pulled a face. "But I don't like business."

Dora frowned. "Look, Ed," she said sternly, "right now gain is your number one need, not beauty. You've got to pay the bills, right?"

I sighed.

"Plus, one thing leads to another. There are all sorts of openings you'll only ever hear about if you're working somewhere."

"It feels like a step back, that's all."

"Well, you can look at it that way," she said briskly, "or you can see it as your first step towards your ultimate goal."


"Something a wise friend of mine once advised me. You can only take a step forward if the place where you're standing now is solid. Which means you have to advance from a secure base, and i've seen a lot of people fail because they didn't do this. They started businesses or new careers with too little money, or experience, or knowledge. Or a wobbly income. Or even no income at all. And always, unless they were really lucky, they fell on their faces. This basic thing that was missing at the beginning held them back more and more as time went on. So don't underestimate the importance of gain, is all I'm saying. Because as long as what you want to do, your 'Kyo,' is in here," she patted her shapely chest, "more and more you'll find yourself moving into the position where you can actually do it."

"Can i think about it?"

"Of course. It's your life."


From The Buddha, Geoff, and Me
Eddy Canfor-Dumas

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