Creating Sustainable Value



“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk (prolific American writer)

This phrase “creating value” or iterations of it (“value added,””valued service”) is a corporate platitude that is tossed around like many other ambiguities in the office setting –“synergies,” “leveraging,” “innovative” all come to mind.

I’m not referring to nor am I interested in broaching the subject of corporate culture lexicon. And by no means do I want to conflate value with a form of a revenue-generating activity (to continue with the MBA terminology). I’m referring to realizing something of value, insofar as it benefits others. From start to finish. Creating something that did not exist beforehand, that will be remembered, and will impart a net positive effect unto others.

From my previous post “Navigating Through Life – My Perspective”:

“Naturally the value of what is good depends on the person and their own abilities and motivations, and can vary in shape and form, such as, but not limited to: social action & campaigns, philanthropy, volunteering, donations, job creation through entrepreneurship, investing in start-up organizations, scientific & technological development, artistic creation of music and the arts, any number of inventions, development cooperation aid, public policy to address social issues, etc. And we should instrument such accomplishments and impact onto others through our personal sphere of influence while exemplifying integrity and demonstrating humility along the way of leaving our impression on the world.”

You can be a messenger or you can be the author. You can undermine and destroy by criticizing and complaining or can contribute and create by encouraging and empowering. By enabling. (More on that subject in an earlier entry, “Enlarge Your Circle of Influence & Enable Others and Yourself”.)

One can elect to be proactive or passive in their day to day approach toward living. I have most certainly oscillated between the two states, and will likely continue to do so, which I attribute to human nature. But I am convinced that the latter option of inaction opens the door for manipulation and abuse, it breeds complacency and indifference.

Along these lines, I can grasp and comprehend the noble and just intentions of religion, through act of prayer, yet I surmise that more still can (and often should) be done. Prayer makes us feel good, and a movement of the well-intentioned can prompt change for progress, but the singular act of praying may not be effective from a pragmatic view of civilization and the tangible outcomes resulting from the accomplishments of man’s efforts. This may be an exaggerated claim, but targeted, evidence-based and accountable initiatives are what have made serious dents in the spread of malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS from killing millions needlessly and preventably (via mosquito nets, more effective drugs, social policies, etc.) — not simply through wishful thinking. To be sure, altruism associated with wishful thinking/prayer can and does serve as the foundation for money donations and philanthropy generally speaking. However it is precisely the wishful thinking coupled to action that creates what I would define as value. And hopefully new medical advancements will one day soon manage to eradicate such diseases from existence.

Those who make up the generation to which I belong, “Generation Y” — born in the decades of the 80s & 90s — can otherwise be dubbed the “CV Generation.” We are consistently reminded of the importance of such and such experience for one’s CV, constantly thinking how such a career move or company name (“brand equity” in the aforementioned corporate world) can affect one’s standing, at times attempting to cope with a job that is displeasing for the sake of the résumé. An entertaining article garnered considerable attention and went viral on the subject of managing career expectations for Generation Y “yuppies”, the term coined for a young urban professional, within the context of social media image crafting: the newfound pressure of feeling obliged to broadcast to the world how exceedingly well we are doing, despite underlying realities that may be starkly different. I can comprehend the gravitas of reputation management and track record as manifested in CV form, but I surmise that it is often overdone and can serve to constrain an individual. It is almost imprisoning in certain instances and it can derail decision-making as its influence can be overbearing. At times it may force one into to commence and/or to prolong an activity that is neither beneficial to the person nor to others. There is no value added save for several words and lines on the highly coveted and ubiquitous curriculum vitae.

Floating through this wonderful and extraordinary opportunity that is life to provide valueless outcomes, or toiling under the guise of falsely-labeled “value-added” services, is not what we dreamt, let alone thought of during childhood. So why do it in adulthood if other modes of genuine added value, within the paradigm of benefiting others, are available and when we are capable of pursuing such avenues?

I’ll conclude with this excerpt from a piece on entrepreneurship and uncovering value-added opportunities:

“There are a lot of problems out there that can and should be solved, and not just because it’ll be great for you, but because it’ll be great for everyone,” Friedberg says. “Once you have this premise — once you’ve found the right thing to do — the strategy is to first know what you don’t know, the tactic is to grind, and the value is to remember: there are plenty of places to innovate.” 

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