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Last week I wrote a post referring to the popularity of video games and other entertainment that glorifies violence, objectifies women and simulates a reality in which irresponsible behavior and even evil have no lasting consequences. I received a number of responses questioning if I was proposing censorship or suggesting the Bible might be worse than Grand Theft Auto. While those comments might provoke interesting discussions, I was up to something very different. The issue I am raising is, what is our responsibility? Yours and mine, to spend our time and invest our talent and money in work that contributes to a better world rather than exploits human weakness.
My question reflects a flood of new ideals that are beginning to roar down the canyons of our cultural and business landscapes. It’s called Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. Increasingly it also stands for Citizen Social Responsibility and Community Social Responsibility. It reflects a new awareness that the consequences of our choices have far reaching impacts on each other and the future opportunities of our children. We are discovering the hard way that polluting our air and depleting our water supplies is irresponsible acts. We are concerned that masses of undereducated and underemployed people impact everyone’s quality of life. We are asking, what kind of future do we really want? Most of all we ask, is the society we’ve created the best we can do?
As far as passing new laws and regulations to control what we can watch…well, as many people worry, that’s a slippery slope. The best regulation is self-regulation. The best discipline is self-discipline. And that’s the realm we have absolute control over if we exercise it. We are fortunate to live in a free society that offers an amazing variety of jobs, opportunities and companies to work for. The question is, do we thoughtfully exercise our free choice to invest ourselves in work that contributes to a better world or not?
It seems we have three fundamental choices. First is work that is destructive to people and the planet. This is work that exploits human weakness, preys on insecurities, greed, and our potential for addiction. Or it pollutes our environment or poisons people. Second, is work that doesn’t really matter. We invest our lives making and selling things and providing services that are generic. If the work disappeared, no one would notice. Then there is work that contributes to the genuine quality of life, of people, and our planet. This kind of work exists in every field imaginable because people’s intention transforms work. If we consciously choose to make a positive difference and do it excellently, we can turn entertainment into inspirations, law into justice, and janitorial work into disease prevention. The challenge is to take the time to deeply consider our choices. Who do you work for? Are you proud of your workplace, your company, your industry? Would your children or your mother be proud of you? Should they be? Is your work the expression of your deepest and most noble longings? Could it be? The time we have is finite. Most of us will invest at least 40 or 50 working years in a career, profession, or series of jobs. Just what are we trying to accomplish? Life is more than a quest for material possessions. My experience is that if we get clear on our best intentions and our higher, love-based motives, opportunities will appear. Perhaps where we already work. I just met a software engineer whose organizing his department to volunteer to help small non-profits with their databases. This morning I had breakfast with a young Intel executive who is helping implement technology in hospitals and homes to reduce medical errors and medical costs. I know a group of surfers who bring medicine to malaria-infested islands in Indonesia. Surfers!
Perhaps social responsibility begins with an awareness that we are all responsible for how we invest our talent and energy. It’s something I think about every day. As I mentioned in my last post, I often look in the mirror and see my mortality. I ask my soul how much good am I really doing? Is this the best I can do?
Will Marre, founder American Dream Project
To visit American Dream Project’s home page, click here.
Recently I spent some inspiring time with David Wyman, a Professor at Clemson University who teaches leadership and entrepreneurship. He showed me his X-Y-Z model of business strategy which, it seems, has great personal application. David explained that the “X” stands for business-as-usual. Doing what you always do. When you persistently offer X to the world, the world responds by asking for more X at a lower cost. The reason is you have many competitors. You don’t make much of a difference. This isn’t just true for stuff we buy at Wal-Mart; it’s true about us. The value we produce at work or bring to our children or spouses is simply what everyone else does; we are just X. Plain vanilla in a world looking from more delicious, can’t-take-my-mind-off flavors. Being only a generic worker or father or mother or spouse means, in fact, that we can be easily replaced. The house brand of any vanilla ice cream is easily replaceable. Sure, someone may love us because that’s what they do, but they’d love nearly anyone else in the same position.
To compete, most businesses try to add value. That’s the Y factor. But Y is easy to copy. It’s like making ice cream in the popular and trendy flavors. But like most factory made ice cream, soon competitors have identical or better flavors in better packaging and at a slightly lower price. In our work or personal life, it’s like trying harder. Sure you can work later or go to a soccer game, but so do most other try-hard employees and parents. Working and living in the X and Y world is stressful and exhausting. You can never do enough. Everyone wants more for less.
But there is another choice. It’s invisible to most. Nearly unthinkable to some. It’s your Z factor. (David is English so he insists on calling it the “ZED” factor.) Z is the unexpected unique value a business can create with a breakaway from business-as-usual idea. And it’s your own unique personality, interests and enthusiasm brought full force to your relationships and your work. The Z factor in business is something like Cirque De Soleil, which is a combination of opera, acrobats and three-ring circus perpetually blowing peoples’ minds in a new, unique form of entertainment. It’s the ipod combined with itunes that changed the way most of us “consume” music. It’s Cold Stone Creameries, which lets us invent a new flavor of premium ice cream every time we buy a waffle cone. (See Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne)
In business the Z factor is always what people value the most. It is more than innovation. It is the invention of new, unexpected value that creates an endless “Wow!” It always comes by over-investing in some aspect of value and eliminating what’s unnecessary. Walt Disney insisted on creating amusement rides that cost 2 to 4 times what carnival rides cost. He way over-invested in landscaping, architecture and employee training. Everyone, especially his bankers, thought he was crazy. But Walt Disney understood the Z factor. So what about us?
We live in a time of hand-wringing fear. It seems that we have all the problems a society could have. That means it’s a time for us to bring our own unique “Z” to the big game. What is it that others most value about you? If you aren’t sure, ask them. Ask them what you should do more of that you’re already good at doing. Ask them what you could stop doing that isn’t really valued or appreciated. What do you love doing, at your work, with your family, friends or spouse? How could you become the Walt Disney of what you’re already good at that you love doing? And what do you do when your family or friends express their most genuine appreciation to you? How do you make them laugh? What makes them trust you? What might you consistently do that would be the thing that your co-workers or loved ones would enthusiastically tell others when you’re not around? That’s your Z factor. It’s your unique one-of-a-kind value that is your great contribution to our future. What we all admire in others. The courageous expression of unique gifts driven by our genuine goodness. As Stephen M. R. Covey (The Speed of Trust) tells us when our competence and character is expressed at an extraordinary level of energy the whole world rejoices. It’s time to get our “Z” in gear.
Will Marre, founder American Dream Project
To visit American Dream Project’s home page, click here.
As the primary election season gives way to the general election I am concerned that the battle for the White House is still a war of new sound bites hiding tired ideas. Something more is needed.
How We Lost Our Vision
If you think wisdom, integrity, and new ideas are missing in our government leaders, you are not alone. That’s because both major political parties have lost their understanding of the four values America is centered on: freedom and responsibility, opportunity and equality.
America’s promise has always been that you can determine the quality of your own life. Where you start in life does not determine where you finish. We strive to be a society that promotes the key conditions to help us optimize our quality of life no matter what our circumstances. Doing that isn’t easy. It requires constantly balancing four distinct priorities: freedom and responsibility, opportunity and equality. If any one of these values are lost or even de-emphasized, our system is thrown out of balance. People lose confidence and our national mood sours. Today, lots of us are in a sour mood. The ideology of the left screams for personal freedom and equality. The right insists that personal responsibility and unfetter opportunity are America’s only true values. But these arguments lead us nowhere. Both sides are correct but incomplete. The result is a distorted, twisted gridlock of half-baked compromise in action. America’s true center is not the mid-point between big paternalistic government and greed-based free-for-all. Our founders understood it as a higher center. The optimization of these four ideals, not their compromise.
When leaders govern from the high center, they do it from a balance point that gives all of us the best chance for life, liberty and happiness. That’s why, most of the time, leaders who advocate policies that respect all four values simultaneously make the most sense to the most of us.
Jefferson’s “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” was designed to expand in meaning as our vision expands. The question today is, are we really committed to these ideals? As a nation are we really interested in removing the causes of avoidable suffering? Things like substandard education, unaffordable housing and health care, urban and school violence to name a few.
Shouldn’t we all be working to ensure that the real American Dream flourishes not only in the productive, creative expression of our own freedom, but also in our mutual responsibility to create a physically and psychologically healthy society for our children? All of our children?
So now our media-trained politicians tell us they are all for change. But is it really change? A Right-based platform of low taxes and uninvolved government and big military is hardly a plan that accounts for what’s happening in our lives and the world. And Left-based high-tax, we’ll-solve-all-your-problems program sounds like the 1960’s Great Society recycled. Perhaps there’s another way. A way that starts with the fundamentals of our founders. When we view the future through the lens of optimizing freedom and responsibility, equality and opportunity for all, a New American Agenda emerges.
The New American Agenda is simple: we must demand better from our government. Government has the central role in providing a safe society needed for Life and a fair society that is the meaning of Liberty. Together these play the major role in creating conditions for the pursuit of Happiness. According to research from the World Values survey, countries in which citizens report the most personal well-being have most of the following characteristics. As you read them, think about how we’re doing. What direction is America headed in?
1. Citizen voice.
2. Fair and equal enforcement of laws.
3. Lack of violence.
4. Leadership accountability.
5. Dependable government services.
6. Absence of corruption.
7. Effective regulations.
8. Universal Access to Capital, Health care, and Education.
9. Fair and Simple Taxation
10. Strong, Wise, and Good Foreign Policy
Well, that’s the list. If you’d like my perspective on what each one of these 10 factors might mean in terms of policy changes for 21st century America, download the 4th American Revolution excerpt. It’s free. You can read it on your computer or print it. I wrote it to help us consider what advice we might give the candidates who are running for president. If enough of us speak up, in time we may have the country we want our children to grow up in.
I sincerely appreciate your many emails and other expressions of encouragement for the messages of the American Dream Project. As you share and forward our blog, our community steadily expands. And that’s what makes it worth it. So, first of all, thank you.
Something exciting has recently happened. Mark Effinger, the founder of Rich Content, which is an internet media company, has discovered our extensive library of American Dream event DVD’s, speeches, and interview video footage. He has asked to “broadcast” them as short (1 to 3 minute) segments all over the world wide web. He has also asked me for daily video commentaries on a wide range of topics that affect all of us ranging from politics, the economy, careers, relationships to book reviews. All related to issues that impact our quality of life right now. Doing these daily video blogs is a big commitment. And, I agreed. So, I converted part of my basement to a very simple “studio” and am starting these test videos. I am more used to talking to live, see-your-face audiences so it’s a new and challenging experience to just “let it rip” in front of a single camera in a musty basement.
The name of the daily super short video commentary is “ThoughtRocket – Ideas that Boom.” And it can be found on a new dedicated website – www.thoughtrocket.com. What you’ll see are short clips of professional video from speeches and on other days you will see my comments on important topics. It’s absolutely free and you can automatically receive new video posts by clicking the RSS link on the home page of the site. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if it gags you to see my face everyday.
The American Dream Project blog will continue just as it has been, usually once a week. So, if you want to stick with that, you don’t need to do anything. We’ll keep sending you our American Dream Project blog, calling for a new American agenda based on the “pursuit of genuine happiness.”
The voice of the American Dream Project, and now daily videos on ThoughtRocket.com will continue to creatively confront the issues of our time and how our responses can save our future and enrich our personal lives. Please be assured that neither the current American Dream Project Blog, or the ThoughtRocket videos will become obsessed with politics to the exclusion of coaching and comments on enlightening our lifestyle and strengthening our relationships. Although many of you like to engage in the great political debate of today, others of you appreciate a discussion on our personal lives and how to improve them no matter who is in office or what they are doing. We will seek to keep a healthy balance between these two and connect the dots wherever we can.
I encourage you to reply back with your thoughts, hopes and dreams. It is by coming together that we can amplify our individual voices so the future will be built on our united wisdom.
Oh yes, if you decide to view the daily ThoughtRocket videos, I’d love your feedback. I especially need help with my basement commentaries. I had no idea that talking to a camera would be so challenging. No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to get that tiny digital camera to laugh!
Thanks again for your support and comments,
There is nothing you can buy that is worth the price of peace of mind. If you want a dream life, live in a place you can afford, working at a career you love, now. Not twenty years from now.
Last August I wrote about the upcoming “financial winter.” Well, it’s evidently arrived. Suddenly everyone is talking about inflation, job losses, foreclosures, and a drop in consumer spending. This is a big deal. The ratio of household debt to income is now 130%. Fifteen years ago it was 80%. Gulp. In my view, all of this was avoidable, but when we have policies that promote endless borrowing and buying instead of producing and saving, we’re bound to be hit by a blizzard of woe. A consumer economy simply creates a culture of dependence, a producer economy a culture of self-sufficiency. So why not create your own economic world in 2008? One that is largely self-sufficient and independent of the hand-wringing whining of policy makers.
Here’s how I think about it. Get on a healthy financial diet. Financial adviser Ann Morosy (http://www.moneta.com.au) says your fixed costs (mortgage or rent, credit card, car, and personal loan payments, insurance, taxes, etc.) ought to be no more than 40% of your income. Variable expenses (food, clothing, cell-phone, gas, repairs, etc.) ought to be no more than 30%. Fun expenses (vacations, entertainment, presents, jewelry, etc.) ought not to exceed 20%. And savings, 10%. Sounds great, right? But in our consumer economy an increasing number of people pay nearly 50% of their income to housing related costs alone! Throw in gas and medical insurance, and it seems hopeless. That’s exactly what many forces in our economy would like you to do. Surrender to the inevitable. It’s called debt slavery. Wait for 100-year mortgages. It will be part of the “solution” to our mortgage crisis. The idea is like modern sharecropping. All your work will go to pay minimum payments on debt that never disappears. Live different.
The first part of the solution is a healthy financial diet. Get serious about reducing variable and fun expenses to pay down fixed expenses. Be aggressive, steady, and consistent. But even then your financial mountain may seem too huge to save your way to sanity. If that’s true, invest in yourself. That’s right; your best investment is usually in the economic opportunity you have the most control over. That’s you. That’s where the second part of the solution comes in.
Invest in your own earning power. In today’s global workplace you really have no choice but to become an expert at something. It should be something that you’re naturally good at and that holds your interest. It could be nearly anything from being a bookkeeper, tailor, sales person, project manager, and dog groomer. It doesn’t matter much what you choose if you are absolutely great at it. Even in depressions there is a wealthy class that will pay for the great, the unique, and the dependable. When I say expert, I am not saying merely good; I mean you devote yourself to excellence. To be great requires intelligent effort. The formula is learn-do-teach. Be an eager student of your interests and a constant developer of your gifts. Never settle for a final plateau. Next, be excellent on the doing. And finally, teach others what you know. Write, blog, lecture, publish—just tell the world. It doesn’t matter what it is; there is always room at the top of any profession. Hey, the world still needs cowboys. Ty Murray makes millions being a rodeo star. The world also needs train engineers, nannies, diesel mechanics, and copywriters. And the people who are great and dependable at nearly all of these jobs often make close or better than $100,000 a year. (Yes, even world-class nannies. And if you’re already making $100 K but are still broke, don’t despair. My experience is that nearly anyone can triple their income if they are willing to become a truly amazing expert and be dependable.)
The point is it’s easy to get derailed by stress when gas is $5 bucks a gallon and politicians are calling for bailouts for this and that. But don’t be distracted. No one is going to bail us out. At best they can help change economic and trade policy to foster a production economy instead of a consumer one. And that’s what we need to do with our personal economy. Become a producer of your maximum value. And don’t waste money on stuff whose true cost is your own piece of mind.
To visit American Dream Project’s home page, click here.
Yesterday I went to a funeral. Mary was the 94 year-old grandmother-in-law of one of my best friends, Michael. Mary is a fearless soul that left a big impression by simply being herself. Her life was the great American Dream. Italian immigrant. Little education. Came to San Diego from Chicago with her husband, Tony, in the 1940’s with zero money. Despite her and Tony’s lack of education, they did what they shined at. Cooked. They opened and ran Italian restaurants. Mary’s secret was her sauces. They were so good you’d want to fill up a hot-tub with one, turn on the jets, climb in and simmer so you could soak in the flavors. You think I am kidding. But once when she sold a neighborhood restaurant, the residents forced her to take it back because the new owner couldn’t get the sauce right even though he was using her recipes! Of course Tony and Mary saved, bought apartment buildings and built a comfortable life from nothing but their own work and mystical talent.
Mary’s funeral was not so much a memorial to her cooking, and it certainly wasn’t about her real-estate prowess. It was instead a celebration of a fearless woman. A woman unafraid to be who she was. To say what she thought with love and warmth, but most of all gusto. She understood how to create rituals for family and friends especially around food and talk. No one ever left her apartment without coffee, a home made pastry and a spirited conversation. Somehow our lives are most often a tapestry of small things that end up being the big things.
What I reflected on at Mary’s funeral is that so many of us are frustrated by our big ambitions: to be rich, influential, famous, or even just get promoted, recognized and appreciated. But life seems to have its own plan for us. I’m sure Mary didn’t know the difference she was making across the thousands of people she served, her friends, family, down to her great grandchildren. What Mary did was take the time to live her life in her way, at her pace. Her personal style was reflected in her total lifestyle. Mary was powerful. Inspirational because she was unafraid. She knew there was one thing she could not fail at if she chose not to. And that was to be herself. Her best self. The big loving self that comes from our deepest part. And of course to make her sauces.
When I work with powerful executives, the biggest problem I find is that they are afraid to be like Mary. So many expectations to meet. So easy to lose track of our own secret recipe. Perhaps our big ambition should be to live minute to minute more authentically. Surely at that we cannot fail. So what’s your sauce?
As thousands of people answered the questions of your Dream Life Assessment on our American Dream Project website, one thing became crystal clear. One of the greatest causes of internal stress is poor career choices we feel stuck with.
While we spend more time at our jobs than ever before, we are also least satisfied in this arena of their lives. Whereas one’s career should be our evolving means of self-expression, or better yet, soul expression, Americans are finding their careers often empty of meaning, satisfaction, and value.
Of the 10,000+ people who answered the survey, nearly 75% feel unsuited for their career and find their work to be void of value, joy, and meaning. It’s no wonder we live in a society of growing discontent when 75% of us are not working in jobs we find fulfilling.
So today when we live in a world where people are working more and more hours, under more and more stress trying to keep up in the rat race of consumer America trying to make ends meet over an ever widening financial hole, are these results any surprise at all? It’s no wonder people are filling their lives accumulating more stuff along with more debt and tuning out of their lives through mindless entertainment.
But life does not have to be this way. We can choose to have our lives be different, to stand for something that matters, to leave a lasting legacy. We are free to express our design and pursue our desires. We have permission to pursue our destiny. That’s the core idea of the American Dream. That’s what our career should be about. When our career is an expression of who we truly are and gives us the opportunity to show our traits and talents in a unique way, happiness is automatic. Sure the challenges are still there, but the background music is upbeat and even joyful.
Unfortunately, many of us seem to achieve high levels of performance doing things we don’t really value or enjoy. This is called the Competence Trap. We make a decision early in life to pursue a career that we can do – it matches our talents to a fair degree – but for which we have no heart. Thus, many of us at middle age find ourselves living with a twenty-year-old decision that no longer fits us, if it ever did. We’re competent but unfulfilled. Unfortunately, many of us build our financial lives around our competence instead of our authentic Design. We feel stuck. We think we can’t do what we are designed to do because we can’t afford to. Our lifestyle costs too much. So many of us spend 2-3 hours a day commuting to jobs we don’t value to pay for homes we only sleep in. And we think this is normal. But persisting in the grind comes at a very heavy price.
In the long term, human beings just do not invest in pursuits they do not find: 1) meaningful and 2) pleasurable. So we don’t consistently excel. To feel consistently fulfilled we must love and respect what we are doing. Our days are spent doing what we both value and enjoy.
Life is too short to live with anxiety constantly simmering. We must commit to really enjoy life as we live. Enjoyment doesn’t mean constant ease and pleasure. Worthwhile sacrifice is supremely enjoyable. And true life-joy shows up when we pursue our authentic dreams using our most natural talents to contribute to a better future.
Every time I give a speech I end with the challenge that Your Dream Matters! When you pursue your real dream, the career, relationships, and lifestyle that feed your soul, we all benefit. When you don’t, we are all diminished.
We all need each other’s dreams.
Founder, American Dream Project
I recently returned from a trip visiting my son and daughter-in-law. They just had twin girls so life is good as well as chaotic. My son, otherwise known as “Fun Boy,” was asking for career advice. I reminded him of his college rock band days when he played bass for “Burley Paul” (the name of his band). Here’s the gyst of my advice.
A few years ago, Chris, a great friend of mine was attending a summer concert featuring a Beatles Tribute band. They were dressed up like 1965 version of John, Paul, George and Ringo. They had their accents and music down. They were an amazing group of musicians perfectly imitating genuine rock stars. And they were fake. After twenty minutes Chris couldn’t handle it. He actually left his family sitting on the grass and spent an hour walking home. He couldn’t stand listening to “fake Beatles.” To this day, Chris tells me that if were a musician, he would rather spend his life playing his music in small bars and clubs then playing someone else’s music to crowds of Baby Boomers’ trying to re-imagine their past. Chris is an original. He is not about to sing someone else’s song.
Turns out, this is great career advice. “Be the rock star of your own life!”
So, what if you were a rock star? What if you wrote your own music, sang your own songs, and enjoyed a unique identity that was the best expression of you at your core? “Remember,” I said to my son, “the people you most admire are all originals.”
Your career is not your job. Not the job you have now, nor your next job. Your career is your evolving means of self-expression, or better yet, soul expression. We are free to express our design and pursue our desires. We have permission to pursue our destiny. That’s the core idea of the American Dream. That’s what career should be all about.
Today, more than ever, it is crucial to be consciously aware of our unique design. As Americans, we don’t have the automatic job advantages we once had. We can no longer count on a safe thirty-year career at a booming American corporation. If we are going to succeed and be happy in the new millennium, we need to leverage our unique traits and talents to their highest potential. It’s our innate qualities that must be constantly expressed and developed throughout our careers. These are the qualities that turn out to be portable, that we take from job to job, that can’t be wiped out by a surprise new technology.
Over the past 25 years, corporate America has developed a new social contract with its employees. That is: no contract. We are on our own. So we need to figure out how to make ourselves indispensable. Otherwise, we are all just laboring in dead-end temp jobs with important-sounding titles. The key is to define and create Dream Jobs for ourselves. Jobs that fit our traits, talents and desires. Jobs where uniqueness creates value.
A lot of career counseling is lame. It’s based on trying to figure out where you fit into the world, rather than who you are. Fitting in will never make you outstandingly valuable. Rather, it is often where you don’t fit that you can create your highest value and reap your greatest success. It is called unconventional job fit.
If you took an assessment that revealed your personality and interests, most career centers would try to find you jobs that aligned with your test results. If you tested out as a math oriented, problem-solving introvert, for example, you might be told to become an accountant. But let’s look at the real world. The people who really put accounting firms on the map are gregarious, visionary and great at sales and client relationships. These are the kind of people that can add the greatest value to an accounting firm. They manage the mathematical introverts.
Flip it around – who is the most valued worker in Hollywood? Not the one with the big personality who can sing, dance and act. Those folks are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. The value worker is the quiet, organized one who shows up on time and can get projects completed. The one who takes care of the details. Are you getting the point here?
Look for a career where your particular traits and talents make you a stand out rather than a fit in. (If you want to get a clear idea of your core traits, go to the VIA Signature Strengths website and take the assessment. Get acquainted with yourself.)
Figuring out what brings us our greatest satisfaction, and how we must make a difference is not easy and it’s never ending. In fact, it’s the journey of life. Go on the journey and never settle for being a fake Beatle.
Yesterday President Bush declared that our economy was “sound” and all this concern about home foreclosures is overblown. He said, “I’m a glass-half-full person” (USA Today). Well, what if you’re a what’s-really-going-on-here kind of person?
What’s your house worth? How much home equity do you have? Will your mortgage readjust in the next two years? Welcome to the wealthiest country in history. But is it the wisest? Recent news is full of a declining housing market with the biggest price declines in the shortest time in history (“Economy.com Forecasts Historic Home Price Decline”). What we’ve just experienced is called asset inflation. It’s when the price of things goes up but their underlying value doesn’t. It’s all due to easy credit. It drove up the stock market before the 1929 crash. It drove the Internet bubble of 1998-2000 (which eventually cost 17 trillion dollars in stock losses), and now it’s hitting nearly all homeowners who live paycheck to paycheck. Whether the ripple effect of 3 million mortgages adjusting to higher payments in the next two years is going to choke our economy is yet to be seen. But if it does, it will hurt those who have the least resources. And the worst is it could have been avoided. It didn’t happen by chance.
About 30 years ago our leaders decided that turning America into a consumer economy was a good thing. So today instead of borrowing to invest in factories, technology and ideas, we spend 70% of our 12 trillion dollar economy on buying stuff. We can’t afford to repair our bridges, our levees, or fix education, but anyone can get a credit card. You see, there is lots of money to be made loaning us the money. But since we quit investing in productive assets and now mostly spend it on consumption, look what we’ve produced. Today, two-thirds of Americans believe their children will be economically worse off than they are. This might be why:
So what’s our plan? Can this continue? Is this the best society we can produce?
Maybe we need new leadership with a vision for a new future. A future in which we get our identity and our joy from who we are and what we create rather than from how we appear and what we consume. We need a new economic agenda for our future and individually we need to make sure our personal economic agenda is serving our real dreams rather than the dreams of someone trying to sell us something. The lessons are simple. We need new leaders with a new agenda. And most of all…we need to invest in ourselves, not in our stuff.
Let us know what you think. We want to hear your voice.
Our first issue of Lifeology was launched today. Lifeology is our new online magazine - “ezine” - featuring the ideas and ideals of our members who constantly blow my mind with their insights and courage. It also features key articles on how to navigate your career, enrich your relationships, seek education and live your happiest life. It’s a beautiful web publication, free to download and send to anyone you know.
To subscribe to future issues, enter your email address on Need-to-Know Updates on our homepage: AmericanDreamProject.org.
CITIZEN: Volunteer to Do Things You Value
RELATIONSHIPS: Creating a Blissful Marriage
EDUCATION: Education, The Engine to Liberty
LIFESTYLE: Comfortably Buying a House Where You Want to Live
LEADERSHIP: REALeadership: Because Leadership Matters
CAREER: Where You Start in Life Doesn’t Determine Where You Finish
PLUS - Recommended Reading and What’s New with the American Dream Project