#TBT: Ignore Market Forces at Your Own Risk

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: You Can Choose Not to Be Affected by Market Forces …

"Free fall-1," © 2012  A. Omer Karamollaoglu, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

“Free fall-1,” © 2012
A. Omer Karamollaoglu, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

… like you can choose not to be affected by gravity.

It’s there, effecting the behavior of everyone you encounter. In their buying, in their giving, in their thinking.

It’s not even really about money; it’s about dealing with scarcity in time, attention, love, and yes, money. It’s not some agreed-to game that we’re all playing, like grades in school, or the fact that we all accept little green pieces of paper in exchange for goods. It’s embedded in nature, and even in pre-money societies, it always has been.

Your choice is that you can understand it and make choices based on it, or you can pretend you’ve suspended it somehow. But remember, the market is a natural phenomenon, and nature always has the last word.

Being a nonprofit organization with the purest social mission in the world doesn’t exempt you from the market. Gandhi’s tea still spilled if he knocked it over.

UPDATE: With some valuable input from @halcyontony on Twitter, here are a couple of clarifying comments. What I’m talking about here is that if an organization says that its “mission” means they shouldn’t pay attention to market forces, they are basically being self-delusional. The point I was trying to make was that you can delude yourself that gravity doesn’t apply to you because of your mission, but you’ll still hit the ground just as hard when you jump off a building, just as market forces are buffeting you all the while you talk about not taking them into account.

Tony had, perhaps, a better metaphor when he said that you can ignore the market and be at the mercy of the “whims of the sea,” or you can actually survey the situation and find the best way to navigate  it. I’m paraphrasing a little, but I think that’s the spirit of it. My point added to that one was that it’s pretty dumb to go down with the ship while the captain insists that his mission prevents him from paying attention to the storm.

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