When Life Isn’t About Money

by Megan M. on July 20, 2009 (Blog) |

I read last week on Boing Boing about Javanese batikers who aren’t interested in copyrighting their work. What? They don’t want exclusive protection for their intellectual property? Whyever would someone do that?

I think I have some idea.

Traditional copyright often seems to be all about money these days. It might be about other things, too—but wow, it is sometimes hard to see anything else through the fog of money. I think money is awesome, personally. But it is not a substitute for real life, or living in the world. It’s not a substitute for the exchange of energy that occurs when someone makes something beautiful or helps someone else solve a problem. It’s not a substitute for human connection or meaningful work.

Besides the fact that you can make money doing what you love without necessarily having to protect it with exclusive copyright (which I believe, unequivocally), there’s a separate point here about doing what you love because you love it—not for the rewards, which can be wonderful, but for the experience, which is beyond price.

You can line this up with any number of specific explanations of why you do what you do. The batikers call it gratitude for God’s work. Burners call it radical self-expression. Tolle calls it being in the Now. If you like cliches, you know that it’s all about enjoying the journey, rather than aching for the destination.

It’s why many coaches and gurus ask this question: If you didn’t need the money, what work would you do?

That’s because the work isn’t about the money, and can’t be about the money if you’re going to succeed. We talked about it in the Tribes Q&A ebook, too:

Selling goods (such as concert tickets, albums, or T-shirts) is NOT what makes you a living. Connecting people and giving them a place in the world IS. There is a huge difference between focusing on one and focusing on the other. Making a living—making money—is only a pleasant side effect of doing this right. But it is a side effect that happens all the time.

We do what we do because we want to make a difference. We want to be happy; we want to make someone else happy. We want to create something from nothing. We want to have quality and meaning in our lives. It’s not about how much we can manage to get paid to do it. It’s about making sure that we can do it.

That’s the only reason money enters into the equation. It’s an exchange of energy and value, that’s all.

Oh yeah, and one other thing…

I decided that for the foreseeable future all Idea Blueprint Girl consulting calls scheduled on Fridays will only cost half of what they normally do. I want to make sure that someone who wants to work with me doesn’t have to reject the idea out of hand because of the cost—and this will help. If you can’t afford my rates, that’s your day. (I might change the day later—but for now, it’s Fridays.)

I’ll schedule as many calls as I can on those days without completely exhausting myself, so if that thrills the bejeezus out of you, grab a slot.

So what if you have no money?

That’s okay too. Tomorrow morning I’m going to open the first Idea Free-For-All thread at That Idea Blueprint Girl, and it will stay open all day. Once it’s up, you’ll be able to find it on this page. If you have projects to cook up and problems to solve and want to do some ideastorming, stop by and share your questions—we’ll find solutions for you.

See? No exclusive copyright, no exchange of cash. Works just fine!

  • jenmathis
    This issue (how will I *pay* for things?!?) will always be the one that stops me from even getting started pursuing "my life: sans office."
  • Megan M.
    There are definitely ways around it -- promise. (If there weren't, I wouldn't have ever gotten this far!)
  • monika hardy
    lovely girl.
    brilliant and lovely.
  • BobPoole
    I love the Ideal Free-For-All! Good idea (pun very much intended)!

    Copyright. I have friends and colleagues who slap the copyright symbol on everything they create - no matter how insignificant. Of course, 99% of them never register it which means they have IP attorney is likely to take a case.

    However, in a digital world where people want everything to be free, how will authors, artists, and photographers (not to mention software developers) make their living?

    I've read some of the scenarios but I'd love to hear the Idea Blueprint Girl's Ideas on the subject.
  • Megan M.
    Dude, that one's GOOD. And actually, it might be a great concept to discuss in the open thread, since I bet a lot of folks wonder the same thing -- if you don't mind posting it there too. ^_^ Thank you!!
  • Lance
    The whole idea of "it" being about the journey - that's it! Something I believe very deeply, and when we can get to this point - where we are living the journey, really living it - then with a bit of hard work and ingenuity, I do believe the money will follow. In the end, though, it really is about those deep connections with others as we work our way along the journey of our life...
  • Megan M.
    I think the basic concept (maybe) is that focusing on what's happening to us right now (instead of always looking for later!) engenders a mindset and environment that takes care of us and allows us to take care of ourselves. That naturally should extend to making a living which, right now, means money. So far, it all makes some kind of fundamental sense!
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