Human beings have been trading stuff for an awfully long time. Some say for 150,000 years. It’s one of the biggest differentiators between us and the animals. It’s made our lives rich and cooperative.
Here’s how it works…
If one guy is great at making stone axes, and another guy is great at making wooden spears, then it helps everyone if they stick to their specialism, and swap stuff. In one sense, it’s simple math.
Ug takes 1 day to make a stone axe. He’s good at it, because he’s practiced a lot.
Stig takes 1 day to make a wooden spear. He has a natural way with the tree’s product.
Ug never found the wooden thing easy, his fingers don’t work that way, so when he makes a wooden spear, it takes him 2 days. Stig is equally inept with stone axes. It just doesn’t bend the way his lovely wood does. It takes him 2 days to make one.
Both of them need both tools.
So if they are uncooperative and selfish, they simply make everything for themselves.
1+2+1+2=6 days total work.
However, if they stick to their specialisms, and Ug makes two stones axes, and Stig makes 2 wooden spears and they trade, then the calculation creates a different result.
1+1+1+1=4 days total work.
That’s two extra days created, one each, which they could use to make cave paintings, or practice their craft, or hunt more food, or hump Jane, or each other.
Trade has become outrageously specialized in today’s world. We’ve gone way beyond spears and axes.
What is your specialism?
What can you do that no one else can do? Or what could you do, given enough hard work, that no-one else can?
That’s what makes you special.