Ming the Mechanic:
Doing things that work

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Doing things that work2003-08-29 11:42
22 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

There's an ongoing conundrum I have in my life, about how to both do good things that need to be done, and also happen to make a living from it.

Let me address it from a different angle, and provide an answer, even though it isn't one I entirely like.

I will often lean towards the new agey concept that if I just put good thoughts and works out into the universe, I will naturally be supported or rewarded in return.

It is a bit like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean, and hoping somebody will find it and that something comes back. And if I'm in a bit of a hurry I'll just kick out a whole bunch of bottle messages.

I happen to have done that enough to know that it works. However, it is also very indirect, the results are unpredictable, and they happen by a timing I don't control.

Now, the more sensible, practical and grounded alternative is that I more directly create that which I want to happen.

If I want water, should I sit and pray for it? Should I write extensively about my problems finding water? Or should I just dig a well?

If I want to go to the movies, do I sit down and make positive affirmations, and visualize that somebody will come and take me to the movies? Or do I just get on the bus and go to a movie theatre and buy a ticket?

Things happen when you do something that makes them happen. Some activities are much closer to the target than others. If I want water, starting in the desert might be a bad idea. If I want to bake bread, a screwdriver is not the best tool. If I want my garden to grow, writing doesn't help.

Same thing with money. You make money by doing something that makes money. Duh. Certain activities in certain settings make money. Others don't. If you want money, you need to do some of those activities that make money, in the manner and in the environment where they happen to work. You are free to invent something new, but it has to work.

One of my skills is as a computer programmer. That can be a potentially lucrative and rewarding thing to do. However, that doesn't mean that if I just start programming, I'll automatically be rewarded handsomely. Not any more than a ditch digger will be rewarded for just starting to dig. You need to dig in the right place, a ditch that will be useful to somebody, and they have to agree to compensate you for that.

There's a structure to making things that work. Not just one structure. The trick is to find the structure that works under the circumstances. If you need to build a bridge over a chasm, you need to analyze the geology, the wind conditions, and many other things, and you need a considerable amount of knowledge and tools to create the right design. And considerable skill and manpower to actually build it, with the proper materials and techniques. Then the bridge will work, and you can drive over it. If you screwed up one of the steps, or your plan wasn't connected with the real world, it just wouldn't work.

So, some of the ways NOT to make money are:
  • don't do anything
  • don't make up your mind what you'd want to do
  • don't make any moves towards what you'd like to do
  • become skilled in something that isn't very needed
  • pick a profession that is badly paid
  • go somewhere where your skills aren't needed
  • don't mention to anybody what you can do
  • don't feel like working
  • don't ask for money when you do something
  • demand conditions that aren't available
  • sit down and wait
  • complain a lot
  • don't contact the types of people you'd like to pay you
  • don't do a good job when you have one
  • do something else than what is needed

    You get the point.

    It is a disconnect I know very well from my work as a counselor. Many people aren't getting what they want, because they just haven't connected A to B, and they didn't notice. "I'd really like to go out with Joleen, but she's not paying attention to me", "Well, did you ever try talking to her?", "..eh, no".

    So, the short answer is:
  • get clear on what you want to do
  • make sure it is possible and needed
  • find out how to do it
  • find out where best to do it
  • go and do it
  • if it isn't working, learn why and adjust your approach

    Very simple. So, as to money, money isn't made by being a nice guy, or even by doing good work. It is part of it. But money is made by making a profit, by getting something cheap and selling it for more. If you don't know how to do that, you hook up with somebody who's doing that, with you as part of the input or output. Which is called a job, or a contract, or a pension, or whatever.

    The how-to is often hidden, particularly when we're talking about money. The people who know how will often not tell you, or will give you a cover story. The cover story will often sound like the new age supported-by-the-universe story. I.e. that they're just thinking positive, doing good work, and money just flows to them. Not to put it down. Being positive and doing good work is great. But the secret is often that, under the hood, something else is going on. People did some much more specific things to arrive at where they are at. Maybe some of them are coincidental and can't easily be repeated. But often there's a specific structure to what people do or did in order to make their lives viable. Not any one universal structure, but many different structures. All of which you can learn from. There's always some key details there.

    I'd personally much prefer if I didn't have to figure out money making. I'd much rather just walk around and do what I'm inspired to do in life, and then receive a stipend from Universal Resources. It isn't fair.

    There's obviously several schools of thoughts here. What I'm talking about here is the approach of figuring out the HOW and then doing it. That is contrasted with the approach of emphatically ignoring the how, but concentrating on the WHAT. Build it and they will come. Dream the dream well enough, and the details will fill themselves in. Each school of thought is a little distasteful to the other.


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    22 comments

    29 Aug 2003 @ 12:10 by Euan @217.155.42.151 : Making big , brave moves ....
    Hang in there Flemming - it'll happen!  


    29 Aug 2003 @ 14:44 by Jon Husband @209.148.234.48 : Money, Work and the Human System
    I like this piece very much. Thank you.

    It also makes me think that there is often a disconnect between what needs doing, and what other people (the "they" to whom you refer) will pony up some $$'s for. For example, there is a clear need for clean water in most places on the planet - and yes, there are consulting and engineering firms, and water suppliers, who make enterprises from providing clean water, ow ays to clean up dirty water. AND, for every one of thoise, there are just as many enterprises making money from providing goods and services, or making something, that creates all the dirty water or uses up all the clean water.

    And this is only one small example of the so-many that exist.

    So...while your "what NOT to do" is correct, as is your "what TO do", where it gets tougher is convincing yourself that what you may have to do to make money is on the path or plane of "right livelihood".

    And I think that this is why many people don't feel too well at a deep level, because somewhere deep inside their cellular and psychological structures, they/we know that we are living and helping to keep going a seriously unbalanced system, one which often seeks to deny our humanity and interdependence, and rather preys on our emotions, desires, and our desire to "escape from freedom" (in the words of Erich Fromm).

    I too would rather do good and interesting things, and minimize the doing of things that just help keep the status quo in place, but it sometimes gets hard to swim upstream on an ongoing basis.

    So what I am trying to do is minimize in as many sensible and intelligent ways as possible the amount of money I need, so that I can free up more time to pursue things that I believe are good, useful, interesting, positive. And since I believe that the system in which we now live is unsustainable in its current configuration and dynamics, I keep on believing that some of the things which I do (or want to) and in which I invest time and energy will eventually end up providing me with some additional means in this money-fied society.

    You have touched upon these things in your story, and I firmly believe that you will find things to do that both satisfy your wish to make a positive difference and yours and your faily's need for money to provide sustenance and evolution. I think there are many people directing a lot of positive enrgy your way.  



    29 Aug 2003 @ 15:01 by jmarc : Thanks for a fine article Ming
    I am trying to apply some of these same concepts in my quest to move out of this inner city apartment i live in, to a more country setting.Got. To. Get. Motivated. Fine, helpful writing.[link]  


    30 Aug 2003 @ 01:25 by andy @81.103.144.198 : Resonance
    So much food for thought here which resonates with much of what is going on in my own mind, for now I'll just say thank you, but I'll be back. Much here to stimulate my mind as I get on with some good old-fashioned manual craft work decorating!! (There's still something very satisfying about labour which brings about a tangible end product)  


    30 Aug 2003 @ 01:49 by shawa : Hey, guys!
    If Ming´s ideas are so good, and helping you - why don´t you send him some money ????  


    30 Aug 2003 @ 08:56 by andy @81.103.216.45 : Additive or multiplicative growth?
    Old-fashioned philanthropists - those who could afford to do good works for no reward - usually had a source of so-called private income. Reading "Small World" by Mark Buchanan recently, I was struck by the contrast between additive growth and multiplicative growth. Receiving money in exchange for labour is additive growth, and no-one ever got rich - really rich - that way. Multiplicative growth is much more interesting. The more you have, the more you get. Invest, speculate etc. In days gone by the seed capital would have come from inheritance, land, property. These days few are in that priveleged position, so most start on the treadmill of the money-for-labour exchange, and most never leave it. It becomes too comfortable, or more likely remains just not quite uncomfortable enough to precipitate a change.

    One of the issues may be whether to combine income-earning and good deeds, or to keep them separate. On the face of it, combining them would seem to be preferable - isn't the ideal always held to be to earn money for doing something you love doing? - but I think I'd have a problem charging large wads of money for something I felt altruistically inclined to do anyway. The problem with separating them is that if the money is being earned additively, it'll be hard work doing something which your heart isn't really in, and little energy will be left for what really matters. So that brings us back to the multiplicative approach. The long term strategy might be, spend the first half of your working life building up capital, contacts - maybe building a company - and spend the second half making that capital work in the way you want it to.

    Just one snag... what if, like me, the first half of your working life is already gone?  



    30 Aug 2003 @ 10:01 by mx @4.62.123.106 : The Quest for the Universal Magic Key
    forget for a moment the quest for the Universal Magic Key...
    (even though it's a LOT of fun to hunt for it!!)

    Everyone (every archetype!!) has their very own ways of gaining riches..

    What works perfectly for one person, may be a disaster for others..

    Focus on the ways that YOU were gaining, expectedly AND unexpectedly, in the past...

    For example, for myself and during my entire life, EVERY time I made something for OTHERS as a service WITHOUT being the focus on EARNING money BUT (!!!) being compensated, I was benefitting TREMENDOUSLY and BEYOND any of my own expectations. HOWEVER, every time I calculated the profit beforehand or was 'planning' the success, I failed utterly even when it should have worked out (and would have worked out for anyone else than me...

    just some pool-side thoughts on a lovely Saturday morning ;-)
    mx  



    30 Aug 2003 @ 13:01 by ming : Keys to Money
    It is similar for me. I can easily notice that people who get rich do certain things to get there. Like, speculating in the stock market, or selling something that looks very attractive but isn't, or manipulating the circumstances to gain an unfair advantage. But whenever I've attempted to get into the mindset of, for example the stockmarket, it just doesn't work for me. What has worked for me is, as well, to do something good for others, without thinking much about money. That doesn't mean, of course, that whenever I do that, it works. Just that what has worked has had that kind of format.

    And I must admit that most of the time what has worked for me is to do my good deeds separate from the money making. OK, my money making normally has to involve doing something useful for others, which they feel like rewarding me for. But the things I really care about, they have usually been done on a backdrop of acquiring my life support elsewhere. Like, NCN was created at a time where I had a 9-5 job with plenty of free time, and what allowed me to put a lot of energy into it at the time was exactly that there was no need to make it profitable in any way.  



    31 Aug 2003 @ 15:11 by andy @81.103.217.216 : Hypothetically or specifically?
    If you'll forgive a blunt question from a complete stranger Ming, are we talking generalisations here or are there some specific good works which lack of directly associated financial reward is preventing you from accomplishing?  


    1 Sep 2003 @ 03:41 by shawa : Andy
    Fantastic question!  


    1 Sep 2003 @ 14:58 by The Free Agent Path @67.40.84.237 : Try this Path
    Remember our dialogues with Barry Carter (Infinite Wealth) from years ago, Flemming? Way back then the content was very much around Exchange, and Money and "Knowledge Leveraging Compensation" etc...

    Seems as though you're still very much in that dialogue. And still now, as then, I recommend simply aligning yourself with a Network Marketing Organisation of quality, integrity and longevity as you already "have" the network part pretty much built (NCN membership -- a percentage WILL support you, and a percentage is ALL you need, and this Blog -- visited by what, 100's of new people every day???).

    Sorry for not sending you this privately (see the link in my name) but most previous direct emails I think you simply don't receive, or see (like my inbox is spamuged :-)

    A simple alignment on your part with a good Network Marketing program with the above qualities, can provide you with ongoing, residual income every month for years...

    Apart from that, seems the thing to facilitate most urgently is Xpertweb (which has a multi-level structure to it, as you know...)
    Cheers,
    James  



    1 Sep 2003 @ 17:54 by ming : Specific good works
    Andy, yes, very good question. And, in line with my article there, I must admit there isn't anything horribly specific that I'm somehow kept from doing because of lack of financial support. My experience is that if one gets clear enough on what to do, a way will tend to form. I do not remember any specific good work project I've really wanted to do that I didn't do. Difficulty appears mostly when one is fuzzy about it. Like, part of what I'm expressing here is my own fuzzy sense that I ought to do some other things, and I'm not very clear on what they are. If I were very clear on what I wanted to do, it would be a lot easier to help me, and a lot easier to devise a way of getting there.  


    1 Sep 2003 @ 18:12 by ming : Network Marketing
    James, well, I think solutions are to be found the region of networks doing business, or networked business, or each individual being a business. Which might be a re-invention of network marketing like it should have been. But I've never met a traditional network marketing organization that didn't give me a bad taste in the mouth sooner or later. Free Agent Path sounds good. Yes, it is about empowering oneself to work as a free agent. And I'm all for thinking like a millionaire and being one's own boss. I try to dip into that kind of thing once in a while, and usually have gotten disappointed to find that the great sounding rhetoric covered for just the opposite of what it was talking about - signing up under somebody else, throwing your energy selling some abitrary product, so that the people at the top can be good examples of benevolent rich entrepreneurs. But there's something to it, somewhere, and of course the answer is that we're each empowered business people, working freely in a network. I just haven't run into any acceptable way of doing that yet. Something like xpertweb is what I'm leaning towards.  


    1 Sep 2003 @ 21:06 by The Uni-v.e.r.s.e. @67.40.84.237 : Beyond Free Agents, Pre-Xpertweb
    Mainly I was suggesting The Free Agent Path as a means to align your supporters and, I believe, empower them too in the process. I agree with you about the arbitrary product thing. However, I think the free agent path would be only an interim solution for you, as essentially it is for me too (along with a few other things, like Buying Web Businesses for example).

    Perhaps the 'real' solution for you is to craft a Network Marketing structure yourself (with a little help from your friends :o) and offer that non-arbitrary "product" (or service).

    I'm thinking that, even though Xpertweb isn't exactly "yours", you are involved, to my knowledge, with the hardcore coding of it, so crafting a Networked Structure to pre-sell it I think would be an excellent idea. Of course, brainstorming around what that might be would be necessary.

    James  



    2 Sep 2003 @ 03:36 by andy @80.1.4.106 : Fuzziness or focus?
    For what its worth, I'm in much the same boat as far as fuzziness goes (see comment above). Dissatisfaction with the way I earn my bread now; the feeling that I ought (and want) to be doing something of greater value for my fellow humans and for the planet at large; the notion at the back of my mind that I'm tied to what I currently do by the need to earn a certain level of income in order to sustain my family's current way of life.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that when you're clear on where you want to go, its a lot easier to devise (good word! - make the path, as distinct to seek it) a way to get there.

    Looking around, I reckon that those who have clear goals usually achieve. Not necessarily the goal they had in mind, but having a goal drives focused action, and action brings results, and also brings new possibilities.

    Vision, boldness, determination and action, tempered with just enough judgement. Is that enough?  



    2 Sep 2003 @ 04:17 by shawa : Andy
    Alignment with some archetypal line is a +.
    By that I mean, that what you offer must be in line with a real need, at some level - for your effort to be worth your while and people´s. And there are not so many different needs at a simply human level. So WHAT could it be that MOST - if not all - human beings need ?  



    2 Sep 2003 @ 05:22 by andy @80.1.19.29 : Human needs
    (In reply to shawa:) What do most humans need? Well, after the basics of food and shelter have been met, love. Or compassion, or affiliation, whatever word you prefer. To connect in a meaningful way with other humans. So says Maslow anyway, and I'm inclined to agree.

    All you need is love... well, I grew up in the 60s so I remember that anthem well. But although I'm not planning to go out immediately and try and embrace the whole of humanity, there is the germ of a more sober thought there. After all, the web connects people; blogging is the success it is at least in part I believe because it helps fulfill that need to connect.  



    2 Sep 2003 @ 13:00 by ming : Clarity
    I feel a role in helping others get clear on what they're here to do, and help them having places where it can happen. So, that can range from being an individual counselor or coach to creating internet environments for people to collaborate in, to maybe being some kind of organizational consultant. Everybody needs to feel good about what they're doing, and to become better at what they're doing, and to find some people to do it with.  


    2 Sep 2003 @ 13:34 by andy @80.1.0.103 : Making it happen
    That sounds to me like a much needed and very valuable role , ming, that could bring tremendous benefit. I've often felt that so many people (and I include myself in that) are mismatched to their jobs and could do so much better for themselves in so many ways AND give so much more benefit to others, if only their role matched their being better. I very nearly tried to make my own way doing something very similar once. I chickened out, because I didn't think I could make it pay. (Which of course is where this thread all started). Plus I didn't have enough faith in my own ability (probably justified!)

    Do you plan to make it happen?  



    2 Sep 2003 @ 18:53 by ming : Making it happen
    Well, I already have. The issue is more how to get clear on what the next evolution is. At other points in time it has been more obvious to me that I was doing something useful in that regard. Now that is much more fuzzy, and I feel the winds of change.  


    3 Sep 2003 @ 11:54 by Andrius Kulikauskas @195.222.36.162 : Mentor for investigators?
    Hi Flemming! Would you like to help lead our team for our proposal for "software for civil society organizations"? I will be writing more soon, but here is the latest, and see previous letters. Keeping you in the loop. Andrius [link]  


    3 Sep 2003 @ 12:06 by Andrius Kulikauskas @195.222.36.162 : George Dafermos
    Flemming, I forgot to say, I thought of you because I met George Dafermos (from Greece, he is nice and also energetic) at the software camp on Vis, Croatia [link] and he said you mentioned our work. Thanks!  


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