Whose life is it anyway?

I am still shaking my head after I read this headline, “Majorities of Americans Lay at Least Some Blame for Economic Crisis on Media and Advertising Agencies for Causing People to Buy What They Couldn’t Afford”. This comes from a Harris poll that was conducted in late March.

As I was thinking about this a picture came to mind. It was of an advertising person with a shotgun. He had this shotgun pointed at the head of a man. The man was walking with his head down into a WalMart. The two walked down aisle after aisle filling a shopping cart with stuff the man didn’t really need. You could see other similar pairings of ad folks with guns of various types forcing men and women “shoppers” to fill their carts. At the checkout people were digging into their pockets to pull out their shiny credit cards from BofA and Chase and Citibank. As they left WalMart, the consumers felt the sun on their faces and as they walked to their cars the ad folks disappeared and the shoppers developed a case of amnesia, not remembering it was the ad people who “forced” them to buy all this stuff they didn’t really need.

You know that I am having a bit of fun and feel sadness, too. There is a deep-rooted belief in our land that someone else is responsible for our lives. In surveys like this we can see that we project this responsibility onto advertising agencies. The problem with this approach is that nothing will change. I will project the responsibility for the next thing I don’t like onto some other group and happily believe I am an innocent victim.

What if I am responsible? What if I created this situation? I believe that I have responsibility for the current economic crisis. I know that I did not always act in a way that was sustainable with my business and how we used our money. I know that I supported a system that was focused on maximum profitability and had little concern for people and their communities. I know that I can be a force for changing what isn’t working, and it starts with accepting completely my accountability and never projecting it onto anyone else.

I invite you to consider taking responsibility as well. Change requires enough of us to act with accountability to achieve a tipping point that creates a new system. A system that brings back our focus on humanity, and releases our attachment to growth at any cost and mindless consumption.

Please tell me what this stirs up in you.

Until later,


Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

2 thoughts on “Whose life is it anyway?”

  1. Thomas,

    Thanks for posting this astonishing poll. Playing the victim and not realizing accountability will result in a repeat occurrence. True introspection and ownership will change how we as consumers can have direct control over our economy. I am looking forward to that.

    We can do better and we shall.


  2. i certainly agree thomas – i am the one who is responsible for the way my life unfolds and that is so connected to my thnking – i will return to your site again and continue the inspiring journey through your work – thank you – maureen

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