Stay alive or be alive?

I recently watched a documentary on the struggling retailer, Sears.
And something simple, yet profound hit me.
Stay with me as I attempt to unpack it.
For the past five years, I’ve been working on a philosophy of life.
Along with various ways to get it across to people.
A movie screenplay, two books, and, most recently, an online learning program.
The online course is called “How to Be Alive!”
It highlights a distinction between staying alive.
Staying certain, calculating and comfortable in life.
And being alive.
Being curious, compassionate and creative.
It’s designed to help people who feel stuck.
People who spend much of their time anxious and worried.
People who feel like they’re not being themselves.
People who often wonder, "Is this really all there is?"
Now, there are those who don’t need the program.
People who find comfort in the predictability of routine.
And fulfillment in money, status and things.
They simply want to measure and compare.
Optimize the status quo, and… stay alive.
I know many who subscribe to that way of living.
In fact, it’s the overwhelming majority.
And that’s fine.
But while watching the program about Sears, I realized something.
In business… in the marketplace of products, services, entertainment and ideas.
It’s not fine.
Because in that environment.
The only way to stay alive IS to be alive.
To be curious and compassionate.
To be daring and creative.
To dance with the tension of uncertainty.
Because you’re serving people who are relentlessly searching.
For unique and more meaningful solutions and experiences.
Do you see?
Sears is trying like hell to stay alive.
And because of that defensive strategy.
Sears is going to die.
It’s a paradox.
The prince of paradox, G.K. Chesterton wrote:

“If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.
If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again;
that is, you must be always having a revolution.
...if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”

Not “continuous improvement.”
To succeed in the marketplace, you must be always having a revolution.
You must feel people’s present desires and problems (not your desires and problems).
And then be moved to do something about it.
Without certainty.
You must feel the tension of the unknown.
And then make the investment and see where it takes you.
It’s what innovators like Bezos and Musk are doing.
And what Sears and Ford and other “stay alive” organizations are not doing.
They’re not embracing their uniqueness.
They’re not living from a place of possibility.
They’re living from their fearful past.
So if you want to stay alive in 2019, then BE alive.
Spread your unique wings and fly.
And in order to fly, you need something solid to take off from.
And nothing is more solid than your inner spirit.
And the desire to improve people’s lives.

Tom Asacker