Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. – Epictetus
In the last post I started looking at demand and that’s a theme I want to continue here.
The goal for this post is to help you find out whether you have control over demand or not – and what your options are in both situations.
The oldest kind of control there is
The history of humanity is littered with examples of how one group of people organised things so that they could control another group.
I remember reading how, there was a time in the US where anyone could get control over land – as long as you were the right colour.
If there was a river teeming with fish you could build a canning factory across it and stop the people who had fished there for free for generations from being able to do that any more.
The only thing they could then do was get jobs in the factory to feed themselves.
This idea of a stream and control over that stream is an ancient practice.
From control of trade routes to control of your thoughts – that’s the model practised by every group that’s exercised power over others.
Traditionally, it’s been exercised using formal power – the power of the sword or gun.
But these days technology has created different streams and new equivalents of canning factories.
Take Google, for example.
The vast majority of people – all of us – are like fish swimming in the information ocean – and Google has built a gigantic factory that we all swim through.
Google has huge power because it controls demand – when people want something they start by asking Google and then Google decides where to send them and therefore who will serve them.
And the same goes for all the other mega services.
So what does this mean for you?
How to sup with the devil
You are advised to use a long spoon when you sup with the devil.
The Internet is a huge and complex place and the big businesses that have created effective monopolies in that space have done so because of us – because we use them.
And that’s not about to change in a hurry.
If Google doesn’t like your business you’re probably not going to have a business at all.
So, you do have to learn to live with Google – and somehow find yourself your own stream of demand to control.
But what does that stream look like?
What’s yours is mine and what’s mine’s me own
Your stream of demand is something that you control.
For example, if you have put in the effort to create process that brings in leads on the major platforms then that’s a huge asset.
Most people believe that what they do is the most important thing.
Focusing on what you do is like owning a canning factory – having the structure, the machinery, the people.
But what is it that made those canning factories in old America so profitable?
It was control of the river.
There is a constant dance going on between the people in the river and the people who want to put them in cans.
Every major player, from Apple to Facebook to Medium, need you to swim into their factories, of your own free will and get processed.
And it’s hard to escape.
Is there another way?
Most of us will never have the kind of control that these big firms have.
We have to rely, instead, on finding the smaller streams where we can build our own small factories.
The good news is that while the supply of actual rivers is finite – we’re only limited by our imagination and the needs of customers.
We live in a world where you can create your own rivers and fill them with fish.
Who would have thought, for example, that an idea like the Bullet Journal, would have taken over the imagination of millions of people and created a devoted following.
I have an article on this on the wall in front of me.
The old world is full of examples of people taking from other people because they had the power.
That old world is still there now – we’re still seeing this happening all around us.
But, at the same time, every one of us also has the opportunity to enter this new world where you are only limited by your own imagination.
And that’s a better place to be than any other time in history.
But, what you make of it still depends more on where you are, what surrounds you, than who you are.
Let’s dig into that in the next post.