Prioritizing Impact Over Interest…
First of all let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have interests. We all have interests. Well, I have come across some teenagers whose main interest seems to be in being disinterested. But even that is an interest (I guess). So, it would be absurd for me to suggest that we go through life without being interested in anything.
What it does mean is to be mindful of the impact of the things we are interested in, as well as mindful of the impact of our pursuit of those interests.
There was a time when I would have never subjugated my self-interest in my own economic well-being to any bleeding-heart notion of impact making. I was a staunch free-trade capitalist. After all, I was taught in b-school that the corporation exists to make a profit for shareholders and those cogs ensconced in that vast network of cubicles are simply commodities that are useful towards that end. Right?
Wrong! But that is where interest leads you when it takes the high road over impact. That is, until that road tends to develop increasingly large pot holes and ultimately completely collapses as it did in 2008.
So, prioritizing impact over interest certainly means we pursue our separate interests (as Milton Friedman would encourage), but we first and foremost choose those interests (as well as the actions we take in pursuit of them) wisely based on the impacts they will ultimately have. We may have an interest in alternative fuels, but we don’t pursue that interest in a way that has the impact of destroying entire eco-systems. We may have an interest in pursuing a traditional VC-backed start-up that ultimately goes public and we cash out and live out our days filthy rich…but we don’t do so in a way that has an exploitative and detrimental impact on the 1,000′s of people built of the same flesh and blood that we must utilize in pursuit of that interest.
So, prioritizing impact over interest certainly means we pursue our separate interests, but we first and foremost choose those interests (as well as the actions we take in pursuit of them) wisely based on the impacts they will ultimately have.
To downsize the examples to more day-to-day terms, I live in a place known to have the most beautiful women in Costa Rica and after living here for going on 2 years, I can attest that it is perhaps true. Does that interest me? Well, even at 52, hell yes, indeed it does. But I will not prioritize that interest over the detrimental impact that following it could have on my marriage.
I could go on and on with examples. Hopefully, however, you have caught my drift?
So, I will stick to my initial guns and say that impact mindfulness first and foremost is about prioritizing impact over interest. Can you see why…now?