What are you Maximizing?

If indeed today’s is an “experience economy,” at least for the rich part of the world and the richer parts of the poor world, how do you know what people want to experience? What are we maximizing?

Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences has a fairly useful list of standard human goals that helps with some answers. Nothing hugely surprising but a nice list nonetheless. Below is the list, with my personal reactions—for what they are worth—in brackets.

So here’s the game: of these, which do you want? What if you could pick five? Or three? Or one? Are you being honest? It’s not so easy to answer these questions. And of course there’s no right answer, no better or worse response. De gustibus!

1. Accomplishment. Achieving goals and making something of oneself; a sense of satisfaction that can result from productivity, focus, talent, or status. [I think this is huge to me. I live to make stuff.]

2. Beauty: The appreciation of qualities that give pleasure to the senses or spirit. [Another huge one for me, I think.]

3. Community: A sense of unity with others around us and a general connection with other human beings. [Not that important to me, other than at the species level. I like to think about how much we are the same as animals, but when it comes to having an identity as, say, Irish or American or really any group, I not only don’t care, I avoid affiliation and find it disgusting.]

4. Creation: The sense of having produced something new and original, and in so doing, to have made a lasting contribution. [I try not to think about this. If it happens, great, so I guess that means I want it.]

5. Duty: The willing application of oneself to a responsibility. [I can’t even understand this one.]

6. Enlightenment: Clear understanding through logic or inspiration. [This may be The Big One for me.]

7. Freedom: The sense of living without unwanted constraints. [This is so important to me.]

8. Harmony: The balanced and pleasing relationship of parts to a whole, whether in nature, society, or an individual. [I’m not sure how this is different from Beauty. To the extent it’s different, I don’t think I care about this for its own sake.]

9. Justice: The assurance of equitable and unbiased treatment. [I’ve given up on this one.]

10. Oneness: A sense of unity with everyone around us. [I don’t really feel this one.]

11. Redemption: Atonement or deliverance from past failure or decline. [I don’t feel this one. At all. This is like Duty. Huh?]

12. Security: Freedom from worry about loss. [Hugely important.]

13. Truth: A commitment to honesty and integrity. [I want this and haven’t given up, nor do I think I will. But check back with me in twenty years.]

14. Validation: The recognition of oneself as a valued individual worthy of respect. [This goes in the trash can with Duty. I don’t get it.]

15. Wonder: Awe in the presence of a creation beyond one’s understanding. [I don’t like Wonder. I like to understand how things work. A little wonder is nice when it spurs understanding or exploration—“How did they do that?“—and when it flows from novelty (which I’m big into), but for its own sake? Mneh.]

[composed and posted with