Ah, the thrill of the quick buck.
I own a small business making and selling handmade shea butter skin cream. Everything involved with this business is pure pleasure. That’s why I do it. It earns me some money, and that’s a plus. But the main reason I make and sell skin cream is because it feels good to make something that I love and share it with other people. And they love it.
Sometimes they tell me about how they love it and they want to order more.
That gives me so much joy. I feel proud of my creation and happy to be able to participate in a healthy marketplace.
On occasion I set up a stand at farmer’s markets. I sit there for a few hours and have conversations with people walking by about why I make Quintessence skin cream, what’s in it, and those sorts of things. I encourage people to try a sample and see how it feels.
The whole operation is incredibly simple. The skin cream itself is also very simple — it contains only five ingredients. Very good ingredients. In very good proportions.
It sometimes happens at one of these farmer’s markets that I make a sale. Someone likes it enough to fork over the cash. They nab a jar of skin cream to take home.
When they walk away, I often stand there silently beaming, inordinately full of simple joy.
When I first started out selling things, I attributed that sweet, sweet feeling to the fact that I made a sale. When spans of time went by in which I didn’t sell anything, I would start to feel bummed.
Maybe I was a failure, I thought. Maybe the whole operation should be abandoned.
Then someone would come by, we would chat, and I would make a sale or two.
Again, joy beamed from my heart like sunshine. The world was once again a good and friendly place. The entire creation was just as it should be.
It took me awhile to realize something significant about this:
I was giving over my power to my customer. I chose unconsciously to feel glum if they didn’t buy. I chose to feel joy when they did buy.
It was a disempowered way to see things.
The truth is, I had freedom about how I regarded the exchange. How I felt truly didn’t depend on the other person.
When I thought back to when I had made a sale, or when I thought back to some aspect of how I had created the lotion, again I could feel joy. I could consciously connect with this feeling. It was mine, not anyone else’s.
I had more freedom about how I felt than I had realized. I could revisit enlivening emotional spaces whenever I wanted.
But I made a sale!
Yeah, and that’s great. If you’re in a marketplace, it can feel like failure unless you’re selling well. But at bottom, you exist outside that marketplace as well. The marketplace matters only as much as it matters. I was forgetting that I existed outside the marketplace. Other things could also bring me that joy.
This isn’t to soften a person’s drive to achieve. Rather, I am hoping to bring the distinction that what makes you the best person you can be is not the love of making a sale. It can be a sign of having achieved something worthwhile, or it can also be arbitrary.
It ultimately feels much better to be moving towards becoming more of who you truly are than it ever could to make a sale.
The question is what you tether your self-worth to. If it only matters that you make money selling something, then writing is not really a very efficient way to achieve this.
If you want to write a book that feels true to you, a book which offers something original and enjoyable and enlightening, then let that be your center of gravity. Ultimately, you can make that book as big and successful as you want, but unless the emotional center of gravity rests with something durable and vital, whatever success you achieve will feel hollow.
The other side of the coin here is that you don’t need to be ambitious to be a money chaser.
Writing a book you don’t believe in because it will sell a lot of copies sounds like chasing money to me. Chasing money may also mean working at a job in which you trade your time for something that pays the bills.
Most of us need to do something like this at least to some extent. It’s important to understand the parameters of the job and feel how you want it to fit in with your larger life goals.
Avoid falling into the trap of justifying where you happen to be.
“If I don’t do it, someone else will have to.”
Is that necessarily true? Maybe you could work instead on developing the very same AI that would make your current job obsolete.
When we hold beliefs that are not true, we remain disempowered. Those beliefs take the place of real understanding.
We all decide, whether consciously or not, how much of our lives we are willing to trade to simply meet the status quo of the material world.
There is always a bigger picture. What shifts when you bring more of the big picture and long term to your everyday pursuits?