The process is the goal.

I watched a beautiful little film called Still Mine.
It’s based on a true story about 89-year-old New Brunswicker Craig Morrison.
Morrison sets out on a journey to build a more suitable house for his ailing wife.
Using the same methods his shipbuilder father taught him.
But on the way, he runs into problem after problem after problem.
After watching the film, and wiping away a tear, I thought a lot about struggle and accomplishment.
I remember, as a boy, accompanying boxers to an inner city gym.
I’d watch them pridefully endure horrible conditions and physical torture.
Finally realizing that their hardship was an integral, and desirable, part of their identity.
Later in life, I saw comedians bomb.
Artists destroy hours of painstaking work.
Writers, including yours truly, paralyzed in a fog of doubt.
But the best endured.
Because they loved the process.
They were one with the work.
They had something they had to “get across” to the world.
Thomas Mann wrote, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
That’s true of everyone on an inspired journey.
Basketball was more difficult for Michael Jordan.
Politics was more difficult for Abraham Lincoln.
Civil rights advocacy was more difficult for Dr. King.
Teaching the truth of our humanity was more difficult for Jesus.
The greatest don’t see an endpoint.
They’re driven by the realities of the here and now.
By the process, not the proceeds.
For them, the struggle is an integral part of their journeys, of their identities.
In fact, and they probably don’t even know it, the process is their goal.
For the journey and the outcome are one and the same.

Thank you kids.

I watched the championship game of the Little League World Series.
The skill level was extraordinary.
Pitchers painting corners with fastballs and changeups.
Patient batters working the pitch count.
Fielders diving and gunning out runners.
Confident and alert base running.
They looked like they’d been playing the game for decades.
They haven’t.
They’re children.
Eleven, twelve and thirteen.
And I wish more business people were like them.
Humble and gracious.
In victory and in defeat.
Curious and passionate.
Students of their game.
Proficient in the fundamentals.
And a steadfast desire to be the best.
But most importantly, grateful friends and supportive teammates.
The all African-American Jackie Robinson West team played their hearts out.
Becoming a symbol of possibility.
And an inspiration to the entire city of Chicago.
The South Korean team won, and then they bowed.
To the Chicago players and their parents.
At that point my heart warmed.
I felt proud to be a human being.
Thank you kids.
I wish more adults were like you.

Desire is the ball.

Desire is what makes the economy hum.
It’s the name of the game.
Stop and look and you’ll experience the vibrant force of desire all around.
Neighbors mowing their lawns and washing their cars.
Girls and boys putting on makeup and splashing on body fragrance.
Children getting dressed for school.
Fans on their way to a ballgame.
Friends texting.
Citizens voting.
Entrepreneurs downloading software.
Families heading to prayer service.
Men and women browsing bookstore shelves, painting pictures, and tending gardens.
Desire is life.
Life is desire.
Lack of desire is clinically referred to as depression.
Prolonged lack of desire by the masses is also called depression . . . by economists.
Desire is what gives us a sense of purpose and hope.
Desire is what keeps us hungry, curious, and adventurous.
You are currently experiencing desire, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Desire is also what fuels relationships.
My desire for meaning and attention keeps me hopping on airplanes and hunting and pecking at the keyboard of my MacBook.
I’m driven to help passionate people like you be the best they can be, for themselves and for others.
Your desire for understanding and solutions, for control over your chaotic environment, drove you here.
Our desire for achievement and identity, our hunger to stand out and to make a difference, is what keeps us connected.
My university degree is in economics.
Supply and demand.
Guns and butter.
X/Y plots.
The hard stuff.
Thinking about it now reminds me of something that George Bernard Shaw once quipped.
“If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion.”
I’ve reached a conclusion.
My informed intuition, rich through years of experience, confirms that demand is about the soft stuff.
It’s not the curve on a graph.
It’s the feeling in someone’s gut.
It’s not a trend.
It’s a hunger.
We are feeling, then thinking people.
Hearts, then minds.
We desire, all the time.
And reason is simply a tool to help us advance those desires.
Desire is what animates the marketplace.
Desire for control.
Desire for attention.
Desire for validation.
Desire for contribution.
Desire for excitement.
Desire for status.
Desire for growth.
Desire for belonging.
Desire is the stimulant.
Desire is the ball.
Please don’t take your eyes off of it.

Our culture is marketing.

“Our culture is marketing.
This is what we do.
And what is marketing?
Trying to get people to do what you want them to.”
It has the ring of poetry or song lyrics.
It’s actually from a talk by the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.
Kaufman is a very thoughtful human being.
He has written some wonderfully daring and inventive screenplays.
Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Charlie oozes authenticity.
He also has a disdain for marketing.
He sees it as a plague of “mass distraction and manipulation.”
I feel what he feels.
The marketplace is brimming with frivolous, spiritless, and outright deceptive people and brands.
As a society of thoughtful human beings, we can certainly do much better.
But I don’t see that reality as a condemnation of marketing.
“Marketing” is simply a descriptor.
Just like the word “movie.”
It’s not inherently evil or manipulative.
The outcome is driven by the marketer’s intentions.
Sure, most marketing is bullshit and crap.
An offense to our sensibilities, a waste of 30 seconds.
But so are most movies.
And they rob us of 90 minutes.
So let’s stop condemning marketing.
And the media, movies, video games, books, businesses, schools, banks, and government.
If we’re mad as hell, let’s get off of our comfortable pulpits.
And do the hard work of making, and demanding, better ones.