A few years ago, on a hot summer day outside a cafe in Los Angeles, California, I met Lynn Fang1 in person for the first time and, after a stream of increasingly existential questions and cautious probes into each others thoughts on the existence of extraterrestrials (a stream dotted with moments of awkward silence), we found ourselves coining the term, and discussing the concept of, lifestyle support, the idea that people should be so transparent in their lives (online and offline) that their lifestyle would be an incentive for others to support their work.
By being honest and open about how we live, we can give the people who gravitate towards us (or who work with us by matter of happenstance) the ability to make a conscious decision about whether or not they want to support our lifestyle by paying for our work and doing business with us.
I had mostly forgotten about this discussion with Lynn until a few weeks ago when my friend Ali Dark2 recommended that I read Breaking the Time Barrier3, a free ebook for anyone recognizing that selling your time--one hour for X dollars--eventually creates a barrier to earning more income.
I’m not a collection of hours,” Karen said. “I’m the accumulation of all my skills and talents. I’m wisdom and creativity. I’ve stopped seeing myself as a punch card. My clients don’t see me that way either. Yes, sometimes, I’ve had to change my client’s mind-set. But it starts with me, first, just as it starts with you. You have to forget selling time. The best thing you could do for yourself is to get the concept of time out of your head.”
a value-based approach to pricing your services is a powerful way to break through the time barrier.
The book shares an empowering perspective and I highly recommend it. It's a quick and fun read that uses storytelling to convey knowledge.
While I found myself nodding in agreement to most the book, there was something on page 27 that caught my attention and reminded me of the meeting with Lynn a few years earlier:
"Should a client be asked which lifestyle they want to support?”
I believe the answer should be 'yes'. I believe that people should ask themselves what kinds of lifestyles they want to support. They should buy products and work with people who are in alignment with the values that lead to the lifestyles they agree with.
I don't believe in the lifestyles of "the rich and famous", the owning of multiple mansions, yachts, and private airplanes. I wouldn't want to work with people who follow those lifestyles or even seek them out. I wouldn't want to pay them money or buy products or services from them because doing so would be a vote for their lifestyle, a vote that says I agree to help support such a lifestyle (or the pursuit of such a lifestyle).
I realize, as I type this on my MacBook Air, that in today's world of monolithic corporations it's hard to know what lifestyles you may be supporting by buying certain products or services.
But corporations are nothing more than a big collection of people, so we can start there. If we start with the people first, then we have to start with ourselves.
Is the lifestyle of the people you do business with important? Absolutely.
Your act of doing business with someone else helps to support whatever lifestyle they lead. If they're not leading a lifestyle that you agree with--if your values and their values are not at least somewhat in alignment--then supporting their lifestyle will violate your own values by supporting opposing ones.
If someone else believes in the lifestyle you lead--if someone believes in the values that drive your lifestyle and the values that influence the choices you make both personally and professionally--then they will want to see more of those choices made in the world and that will be a big incentive for them to support you.
The more I think about this, the more I realize that lifestyle support goes way beyond business transactions. The emotional support you give others--spending time with them, meeting them for lunch, agreeing to attend parties, etc.--supports their lifestyle too. And perhaps that's why I'm so selective with my time and so careful about who I relate with.
The term "guilty by association" is usually used in the context of a criminal act, but when it comes to your lifestyle, you really are guilty by association. Your actions say a lot about your lifestyle and that in turn says a lot about what you believe and what you value, which in turn says a lot about you.
I met up with Lynn Fang after connecting with her online because I felt that we held a lot of the same values. I stayed with my friend Ali in Australia for a few weeks last year for the same reason.
The Internet opens the world up to us and lets us find people with similar values and similar belief systems, but we need to be transparent and open about who we really are for them to find us. Connecting with such people and openly sharing ideas and thoughts leads to discussions like the one I had with Lynn, which in turn leads to the development and sharing of more ideas and more discussions, thereby making the world a better place.
If you believe something--if you hold certain values close to your heart--then ask yourself if you're associating with and supporting people who hold similar beliefs. Ask yourself if you're leading a lifestyle that reflects what you truly believe.