You’ve probably heard of the Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. The line apparently isn’t really Chinese in origin, but it certainly seems very Chinese in spirit, so I’ll stick to calling it that. I’ll let you ponder why it is appropriate to call it a curse rather than a blessing (hint: try the Future Nausea post from a few weeks back).
Anyhow, you and I, we certainly live in interesting times in the sense of the curse. So in lieu of a proper long post this week, I offer you this pick-two (at most) triangle for your lifestyle designing pleasure.
I first posted this as an unqualified pick-two type bon mot on Facebook, and a lot of friends seemed to find it thought provoking. Then I thought some more, and realized that the 2-out-of-3 nature really reflects environmental conditions during interesting periods in history, when it is hard or impossible for anybody to do all three. I used the triangle in this form during a recent talk, to get at how different people adopt different strategies to either survive or thrive in interesting times.
Then it struck me that even picking two out of three is pretty hard. Many people manage to do only one, or none at all. I mapped those to the Gervais Principle taxonomy of Sociopaths, Losers and Clueless, and came up with the legend you see alongside the triangle now.
I won’t attempt to supply or defend examples of people who’ve made each of the 7 possible choices, since that tends to excite controversy. I’ll leave you to do that yourself. But I’ll offer these archetype labels:
- Money+Beauty: Sell-Out Artist
- Money+Sense: Soulless Arbitrager
- Beauty+Sense: Intellectual Dictator
- Only Beauty: Self-Absorbed Artist
- Only Sense: Armchair Intellectual
- Only Money: Dull Douchebag
- Nothing: Drowning Person
You can of course, also add an intensity knob between “drowning” and “thriving” where drowning is 0 and thriving is 0.67. And if times get much tougher than they are today, we’ll all be demoted to Losers, and eventually to Clueless.