Your Life. Your Business.

In the world of business, there’s something called a “break-even point.” It’s the only point when you are happy about being broke. It’s when you finally come out of your room and yell the words, “I am going for a bath!” at your new neighbors.  Also, and mostly, the break-even point is when a business begins to move from loss to profit. The reason this is important here is that, like a business, we all have a break-even point. Not to be confused with “breaking-point” which is that other point when you say the words “enough is enough” and follow it up with a dramatic two-hour monologue. Break-even is the real deal. See ugly figure above.
We all start at the lowest point in this curve. Growing up is when we learn the shades of right and wrong – mostly through a lot of wrongs. You learn that “I was sleeping” isn’t a great excuse for peeing the bed. You learn that pouring water on the bed is a bad idea. You learn your elder brother regularly peed the bed and convinced everyone, including you, that it was you. Then you turn six. If you were me, twelve.

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Then, you learn the completely insane powers of the words please and thank you. “All you have to do to get more cake is make a subdued face and say the word ‘Please’?” It’s like realizing all I had to do was flip the bed. But you still haven’t hit the break-even point. Your wrongs still exceed your rights. You are winding through the moody-selfish-everyone sucks except the cute girl at school phase known as you know: teenage. Right??? I know!!!!

This is a great time of your life where you can get away with a ton of crap. It’s analogous to the time in business where they say “there’s nothing in it for you to lose.” Because you are losing anyway. And then, as you are walking home on a random sunny day, you rescue a pigeon or rescue someone from a pigeon, or share your cheese popcorn with a pigeon, or think about how much mom and dad love you in spite of you being full of pigeon-shit to them.

You’ve arrived!

Welcome to the break-even point. All you need to do to remain here is help your friends when they need your help, share your food, and occasionally smile at mom and dad. A little more and you will be catapulted to profit: the point where your rights outweigh your wrongs; the point where your aunt tells your mom what a “wonderful kid” you are and you forgive her for messing up your hair.

As anyone who has started a business will tell you: “This shit got real.” The grand goal now is to get ahead on the curve. Unless you are a psychopath, there’s a good chance that you know your rights from the wrongs by this point. What you don’t know, however, is the difference between getting ahead in the curve from the curve itself. Let me unravel that for you with some help from the world of business.

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The curve signifies only one aspect of the business: Money. The more the money (than spend), the farther ahead the business gets on the curve. It doesn’t tell you that the rad jacket you are wearing was made by a 10-year-old kid in Bangladesh. Or that the cheery air-hostess that just handed you a wet tissue is eating out of the trash can because she hasn’t been paid in a year. Or that Bruce Wayne has absolutely no business acumen and acquired all his wealth from his parents. You get the point. The curve doesn’t differentiate the right and wrong. As the world of business has proved many times over, you can do anything, however wrong, and still get ahead on the curve.

This has become the widespread sentiment over the last decade. And this has scared the pigeons out of us. That’s why it’s very important to differentiate getting ahead on the curve from the curve itself when we extrapolate this idea to life. We don’t need another example of money’s ineptitude to buy happiness. What we need is an understanding of what things like money and happiness mean to us. Of what getting ahead on the curve says about our lives.

The awareness of the right and wrong is useless if getting ahead on the curve is more important than assigning meaning to and deriving meaning from the curve. It’s like being the guy that got so far ahead on the curve only to later find out the curve has no real meaning for him, and that it never did.

For most of us, the curve is a mix of a number of things, one of which, mind you, is money. But, that’s as close as we can go on the business analogy. In the curve of daily life, assigning meaning to the curve is half the effort. It’s what we call the grand purpose. And here’s a thing about that purpose curve: getting ahead on the curve means nothing if you don’t feel enough at the break-even point.

In the real world, just remaining at the break-even point takes effort. Balancing your moron-ness with your kind-ness is hardwork. Getting ahead is just your way of being more helpful, smiling at more people, and finding a deeper meaning. The point is to never keep getting ahead. The point is to find meaning even at the break-even. Even at Nothing. As this meaning gets deeper, you magically seem to get ahead. And as you get ahead you need to become okay with being wrong and falling back to break-even. Because there’s still meaning there. That’s not failure. That’s you becoming a better person. You becoming less breakable. You becoming.

Your life. Your business. Are you becoming or getting ahead?

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