Elite or Enlightened or Entropy?

I am sharing this blogpost from Seth Godn (replicated in full below) because to me he is articulating a profound truth- maybe its elite, maybe it has another name….but this is a divide not so much of money and privilege as it is a divide of hunger for learning and hunger for a better humanity.
Or, maybe its not new at all- maybe its simply that those “who make things happen” and “those who wonder what the hell just happened” emerge in new ways- not necessarily from the Ivy League business schools, but from anywhere- because they can!
As long as there is desire and an internet connection, anyone with a mobile phone can today hold the knowledge of the world in their hands. And lead!
I wrote a blogpost at work today lamenting the sluggish lethargy with which many of the business people I cross paths with regularly respond to opportunities sitting right there on the table…finding more reasons to cling to the status quo than reasons to embrace change or try something new out. The energy expended in that exercise alone could have moved us forward.
Instead- it traps us in limbo land- and I fear like Joseph Tainter proves in his 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies  – the only way to a new future is via a collapse!  Its happening all around us- media industry, auto industry, financial industry….
Sadly, those with the passion, vision and drive are either being driven out, because yes, they are behaving increasingly disharmonious and unreasonable in their frustration, or they are growing simply exhausted from tugging at a dead weight that refuses to move into the present, let alone the future.

I am with you Seth….it’s unclear, in spite of my unfailing optimistic streak, whether one can persuade the disbelievers to change their minds. It’s as if they don’t even believe evidence or facts anymore….it’s all fear-based because they have already been left behind through the acceleration of technologically-driven social and business model change, and denial is the only way to save face!

The new Elite- by Seth Godin via sethgodin.typepad.com

In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one.

In more and more societies, though (including my country and probably yours), I’d argue that there’s a different dividing line. This is the line between people who are actively engaged in new ideas, actively seeking out change, actively engaging–and people who accept what’s given and slog along. It starts in school, of course, and then the difference accelerates as we get older. Some people make the effort to encounter new challenges or to grapple with things they disagree with. They seek out new people and new opportunities and relish the discomfort that comes from being challenged to grow (and challenging others to do the same).

Perhaps I’m flattering myself (and you) but I think almost everyone who reads blogs like this one is part of the elites. It’s not because of birth or financial standing, it’s because of a choice, the decision to be aware and engaged, to challenge a status quo of your choice.

The number of self-selected elites is skyrocketing. Part of this is a function of our ability to make a living without working 14 hours a day in a sweatshop, but part of it is the ease with which it’s possible to find and connect with other elites.

The challenge of our time may be to build organizations and platforms that  engage and coordinate the elites, wherever they are. After all, this is where change and productivity come from.

Once you identify this as your mission, you save a lot of time and frustration in your outreach. If someone doesn’t choose to be part of the elites, it’s unclear to me that you can persuade them to change their mind. On the other hand, the cycle of discovery and engagement and shipping the elites have started is going to accelerate over time, and you have all the tools necessary to be part of it–to lead it, in fact.

 

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2 comments

  1. Oh my God. People who read blogs about social networking are "elites"? Only in the minds of twentysomethings who have no real experience of the world…(Yes, you are flattering yourselves. Badly…)

  2. I dont think its about blog readers at all…..it’s about information seekers, it’s about hunger and thirst for knowledge that is not filtered by one editor with a political agenda. It’s also not about passivity and consumption, but about creation, production, participation and creating change. And yes, elite is a poorly chosen word because it creates the reaction that someone like Smar- whoever that person is- has.

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