Author and Economist Umair Haque is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on reconceiving capitalism. He recently published a series of essays on HBR meant to challenge our ideas and assumptions about life in the context of capitalism. Here, he makes the case for abolishing the trade-off between meaning and money:
When I say, ‘stop trading meaning for money’, I emphatically don’t mean we should do the opposite: start trading money for meaning. Instead, we must detonate this toxic trade-off — for while it might not irreparably poison our lives, it surely will diminish, reduce, and wither the worth of our limitless potential.
Step out of your shadow, the carefully constructed almost-self you’ve been instructed, encouraged, cajoled to settle for. In this big-box store of the human spirit, the only choices on offer are money or meaning. You can be the jet-setting exec (banker, trader, technocrat) with a soul as deadened as the waning arctic winter — or the underpaid teacher (artist,writer, designer) struggling to reach the high summer of prosperity. It’s up to you not just to reject and refuse those dilemma-ridden choices — but to rebel against them and forge better opportunities; above all, the opportunities that make up a life worth living.