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The Value of Creating Versus Consuming

Never retire. I repeat – never retire. Retirement means what? It literally means the act of retreating, withdrawing.

I hate the word. A good friend of my wife and mine is 90 years old and working daily. I will never forget his expression: “I will retire when I expire”. His mind is sharp, his health is good, and he is prosperous, and hard working.

When we are creating life versus consuming life, we are active, alive, filled with energy and zest for life.

In all things in life, creating feeds us energy and consuming drains it.

Money Workshop Lesson

I learned this lesson very powerfully when we created a money workshop about 10 years ago, and my co-creator of the workshop designed an exercise to be carried out over lunch to vividly demonstrate the stark difference between creating and consuming.

Frankly, I thought it was too simplistic, and just wouldn’t have any impact on the workshop participants. However, I trusted my partner, so I somewhat reluctantly went along.

To my surprise, the first time we did this exercise in the workshop it absolutely blew me away! To this day, it still stuns me just thinking about it.

Here is the general outline of what we did:

  1. We split the participants into groups of about 5-6
  2. We had them leave their purses and wallets in the room (we securely locked it with someone inside for security)
  3. We gave each group very, very little money – about $15 for the entire group of 5-6 people

The instructions were this :

  1. Go for lunch as a group with these ground-rules:
    1. Come back on time
    2. Each person must be well fed
    3. No begging

Here are some of the stories from the various groups….

Bussing Tables

One group went to a casual dining restaurant up the street and convinced the manager to clear tables in exchange for their lunch! He agreed, they did, and they had sooooo much fun. They laughed, worked hard, and got more food than they could eat!

They had the waitress box up the extra food and they gave it to some homeless people living on the street.

They also came back with change from the $15!

Organic Lunch

A group in another workshop went to a mall and right in the centre of the mall, one of the group members gave neck massages to shoppers (she was a masseuse) for a few dollars. (The rest of the group marketed her services!)

With the $15 plus the extra massage money they bought organic salad ingredients and they too came back well-fed and with excess money!

Fruit for Drivers

A third group went to a food market, had a light, healthy lunch and enough left over to offer an orange, apple or banana to drivers heading back to work!

Every group succeeded in eating well for little money, and even some coming back with change.

High Energy

The most obvious difference in ALL the groups was the energy they came back to the workshop in. Most often when people go for lunch, they order too much to eat, then whip out their credit card to pay, in other words, they consume their lunch. They usually come back lethargic, needing a coffee and the polar opposite of excited and energized.

After our exercise, we couldn’t keep them from talking – they were transformed and electrified.

They had experienced firsthand the difference between creating and consuming and they were on fire.

One Lady’s Experience

I will never forget one lady’s experience. She was middle aged, from England, and from a fairly wealthy background.

Earlier in the day, before lunch time, we went through an exercise in creating a minimalist budget that would satisfy yet had no extras. The purpose was to see how we can spend the least amount for food, shelter and clothing, and yet still be happy. We talked about going to the library for books rather than buying, free social events to attend and so on.

This English lady was very resistant and absolutely convinced we were nuts, and she would need a minimum of, I think it was 5,000 pounds sterling to survive.

She was rather grumpy and judgemental about the whole exercise, and really couldn’t see the point.

Then something happened! After she returned from the group lunch, she was well-fed, energized, and inspired.

As well, she was lit up, happy, and super talkative.

She saw how little she needed to be happy and fulfilled and that what fulfilled her was not consuming, rather creating the entire experience.

You see, having little sharpens the mind, gets one into action, and, well, makes you creative. When you have a lot, it is so easy to fall into consuming.

And, consuming is a vicious cycle. Looking for satisfaction in buying things which cannot fulfill us (how could they – they are just things) one can become pushed into an endless cycle of looking for more and more in an endless spiral of buying and dying.

Creating – even when you have little – lifts you up, keeps you present, and engaged.

Perhaps this is why African people seem so happy and joyful in the face of little material comforts. They have been forced into being creative so they can eat, feed their children, and pay school fees.

By the way, I am not saying abject poverty is the pathway to joy. When you have no food your brain does not function, and you cannot be creative.

I am referring to working with little, not nothing.

Business Application

So, what does this have to do with business? Simply that the act of creating your business, of building it, of designing systems, marketing for new business and being innovative will reward you in and of itself immensely.

Of course, the profits you earn can be used for consumption. There is nothing wrong with that – it just won’t be the ultimate fulfillment.

By the way, you can apply this principle all the way through your life, even when you are experiencing incredible prosperity.

For example, let’s say you reward you and your family after a lot of hard work with a vacation at a 5-Star resort.

You could just sit back and consume, and then find yourself complaining about little things, like the soup was not hot enough, and getting miserable for next to nothing. Or, you could gather as a family and start with the end in mind and say – “what will it take for us to create the best vacation we ever had as a family?”

The joy of a simple evening stroll together on the beach could remain as a highlight of the trip.

Thanks for reading….