Anger and what it tells you.

I am so glad of this blog, and by that, I mean I am grateful to you. Sure, I could write things down in a notebook that I then conveniently lose or forget about because changing my life is too hard, too scary, too much effort. Writing things here is different because you can see it and that makes it real, indelible, a kind of commitment.

Today’s theme is anger, something I have a lot of, especially relating to work, and covering the full spectrum from mild irritation to rage. 

I spend a lot of time thinking, and occasionally saying, such-and-such “really pisses me off” or “drives me fucking mad”. What’s unhelpful about this is that it locates action and agency in the thing I’m objecting to and not in me. The reason this is a bit flawed is because if that were really true then it would drive everyone fucking mad, but this is patently not the case. Millions of people live lives that are completely undisturbed by these problems, leading to me to wonder what’s wrong with them. So a better way to look at it is that some things drive me fucking mad because they contradict my values. Therefore, if I want to find out what my values are, I could do worse than begin by looking at what is being contradicted by the things I find annoying. Here are some. This may not be an exhaustive list, but it is a start.

One.

  • Expansionism and market share. I hate the idea that businesses are supposed to constantly try to increase their market share. 
  • Why? Because increasing your market share reduces somebody else’s. But there is enough wealth and abundance to go around. Success does not have to mean constantly stealing from other people. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that four banks or supermarkets agreed to just share the consuming public between them. If you’ve got 25% of the customers, you’ve got enough. Do you have even the slightest idea how much money and effort they expend trying to increase their market share and put all the others out of business? Millions. Over time, billions. And those costs are passed on to you the consumer in the form of raised prices. It doesn’t even work. It results in “churn” which means consumers constantly switching brands when they are momentarily attracted by the latest gimmick or promotion. Market share is the exact opposite of sharing, it should be called “market grab” or “market take from the next guy” or “market jealousy and paranoia”.  But they won’t stop doing it. It is like nuclear disarmament. Nobody wants to go first because there is a total lack of trust that anyone else would join in.
  • Annoyance factors: Greed. Zero-sum games. Making yourself rich by making someone else poor.
  • Values that are contradicted by the annoyance factors: Sharing. Games where you make wealth instead of stealing it. Creativity. Knowing that there is enough to go around, and acting that way.

Two.

  • Lies and making shit up. There’s a guy I know, one of a small army, who sells his services based on expertise that he doesn’t have. Last I heard, quite recently, this guy is claiming 15 years of experience in a particular field, which I know is untrue because he’s told me himself the real history of his career, which started 5 minutes ago, and also because if he really had been in that particular game 15 years ago, he would have pioneered it, which is exactly what he is trying to imply. What’s more, he doesn’t know the first thing about his subject. It’s like if I pretended to be a medical doctor. I would not just be damaging people’s health, but the more I drew attention to my services, the more I would trash the reputation of medicine and the less everyone would be willing to pay for it. Now if you take this one guy and multiply him by a few hundred and eventually a few thousand people, actual doctors can’t make a living any more and medicine, which used to be something good, is driven into the ground.
  • Why I hate it: because it is lazy, dishonest and destructive.
  • Values: genuine accomplishment. Honesty. Integrity. Humility. Letting experts have their expertise. Making new things that are good instead of taking existing things that were good and wrecking them, for ever-decreasing prices.

Three.

  • Selling things based on fear. The foundation of so many consumer brands. Fear of crime. Fear of disease. Fear of having bad breath and being fat and unfashionable and having no friends. Fear of being a bad parent. Fear of being judged. Fear of immigrants. Fear of aging. Fuck you, Daily Mail, fuck you, Rupert Murdoch and fuck you, makers of everything from hand sanitisers to hand guns.
  • Why? Because it is exploitative and consumers deserve better than that. They deserve better than to be constantly wound up into a state of distress and then having their money taken off them.
  • Values: Respect. Decency. Treating people the way they deserve to be treated. Dignity. Integrity.

Interim Conclusions: List of Values.

Okay, so apparently I do know what my values are, and there are a lot. Just 3 items that really piss me off has resulted in this list of things that I strongly value:

  1. Sharing.
  2. Making wealth, not stealing it.
  3. Creativity.
  4. Abundance mentality.
  5. Accomplishment and expertise.
  6. Work and earning things.
  7. Honesty.
  8. Integrity.
  9. Humility.
  10. Respect and decency. Giving people their dignity, which I see as a human right.

I further notice that in just 3 examples, there are recurring themes, and the two biggest ones are Creativity and Integrity.

We didn’t even get on to homelessness, did we, or religion, or the other 1,795 things that get right on my tits. That was just the first 3 things that happened to occur to me that annoy me about my job. Yet it has resulted in a list of 10 very clear values, of which a couple are rising to the top.

I think that’s enough for right now. Watch this space for the next episode. I don’t know where this is going, but it is going somewhere.

3 thoughts on “Anger and what it tells you.”

  1. I wonder…how do you feel about the business world as a model of evolution? As in survival of the fittest. I’m assuming you’re against that? But isn’t it only fair that the people who do the most work get the most benefit? Just curious as to your thoughts.

    Also, have you ever read “Blue Ocean Strategy?” It’s about creating new market space rather than fighting over the existing market space. It’s a great book. I highly recommend it!

    Also, great post. Very thought-provoking!

    1. If I thought the people who were doing the most work were getting the most benefit, I would be absolutely overjoyed. It would be Utopia. What I see happening is that there are a few innovators who do a lot of work and they are followed by hordes of fuckwits with no talent and no imagination who make cheap knock-offs, charge pennies and drive business into the ground until nobody can make a living any more. Drives me fucking mad. That’s not survival of the fittest, it’s not survival of anybody. It’s just commodification and deterioration. Thanks for the book recommendation! Will definitely check it out.

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