The pursuit of goodness: You don’t need to become Michael Phelps.
So, this story (my blogging debut) is about something that has been stuck in my head since I moved to the United States of America a few months ago (already 9…fuck!) and its done without the intent of being unconstructive criticism, but to spark some productive reflexions. Hope it does the trick, but pardon me in advance if it does not.
There is no doubt the American society is one of the most advanced of the world in many senses, I can’t disagree that you have the most powerful companies, the most beloved leaders, winner athletes and the best politicians (cough…). I have the luck of having lived in 5 different countries in the last 5 years, and I can tell you that you guys are with no doubt the most productive, thoughtful and effective people I have ever work with. True story to try to gain a little credibility to my point: If i have to choose a nationality for my next hiring, it would definitely be American. However in my humble opinion there is something Americans still need to understand about life: To be happy, you don’t need to become Michael Phelps!
I understand that shaping competitive and thoughtful minds through your effective (though unsustainable) education system and then filling them with ideas of self-improvement, effort, courage, and the overarching “I need to be the best” mentality is a great way to ensure that your country is going to continue being the world leader for a substantial amount of time. (At the end of the day, countries are like companies, their most valuable asset is their people) but, and here is the BIG BUT, Have you noticed that you are creating a society full of over-competitive and stressed individuals unable to ever feel good about themselves and forced to push their limits to the point of never having time to enjoy life?
I have always considered myself to be a die-hard fan of competitiveness and hard work, but I refuse to accept that’s all… there is so much more in life. Its not about the pursuit of greatness, its about the pursuit of goodness, because goodness leave us room to have some time to enjoy our ride.
I am not building an argument to encourage the creation of a society of mediocre people, I am just suggesting that pushing people to become “Steve Jobs or nothing” is making the majority of Americans feel incomplete and have stressful and empty lives because they couldn’t achieve to become the next Zucherberg or Musk. Lets be honest, there is only one Michael Phelps, and I can almost assure that he is not the happiest individual in the US. (not suggesting anything bad about him)
As a planner, I always try to force myself not only to expose a problem, but also to suggest feasible solutions to it, (sometimes I do not like to be the perfect asshole) so here I go: How about educating people that success comes from happiness not from power or money? What would happen if we teach the next generations how to share, to love, how to enjoy the moment and how to be happy with who they are and what they do? I think you will still get the next Gates or Brady, but you will be also growing a powerful American society of fulfilled and happy individuals, something often underestimated by the ones who rule the world and in my opinion, one of the most powerful weapons for the future.