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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Greatest Key to Success

"I never let schooling interfere with my education"
Mark Twain

I've been studying some of the great social and political movements of the past. By great I mean those that were found significant enough to be kept in our history books and legends. I find myself struck by a profound truth. I shall reveal it in a moment.

People in our society have some funny ideas about the keys to success. Yet I find myself realizing that most of them are lies.

Lie #1 - Education leads to success
Under this lie, it is assumed that one cannot be successful without a college degree. This has manifested itself in our society through the assumption that for most occupations candidates must have at least a bachelors degree to be taken seriously. Evidence that this assumption is a lie can be found by looking to successful men like Bill Gates who dropped out of college to start working in the computer field. We all know what happened with that.

Lie #2 - Great wealth assures success
With rare exception, accumulated wealth seldom survives more than two generations before disappearing into oblivion. Too often the children of wealthy individuals have no appreciation for the wealth responsible for their upper class lifestyle and clearly no ideas on perpetuating it into the future. Instead of absorbing this appreciation and knowledge from their parents, they become spoiled and lazy, guaranteeing their future failure.

Lie #3 - Poverty guarantees failure
Men like Chris Gardner are proof this is a lie. Chris Gardner raised himself from a poor, homeless father to being one of our nation's top, successful stock industry experts. Mr. Gardner is also a living example of the profound truth I have finally come to recognize.

Note that I did not say I discovered the truth, but said I finally recognized the truth. The truth was there all along and used quite effectively by men like Bill Gates and Chris Gardner. This truth has a name.

Allow me to introduce Personal Motivation.

Personal Motivation is a sad, lonely fellow in many cases. Like most of us, people pass by personal motivation everyday, never noticing its there, waiting in the dusty wings of our minds. Personal motivation survives on crusts of dreams and quenches its thirst with our flights of wishful thinking. The personal motivation of most people subsists much like the homeless citizens of our inner city.

People like Bill Gates and Chris Gardner have rescued their personal motivations from the streets and proven how powerful personal motivations can be. From the margins of society, these two men have built personal empires that most of America envies without ever realizing they too can have such success.

We as activists can learn much from men like these. We too have our dreams; dreams of what our world could be like, if only we would address the many problems facing our civilization. The one thing lacking, most of the time, is our own personal motivation.

Too many times we feel our activism is done because we have no choice. To truly have the energy and dedication necessary we must awaken our personal motivation. For me, mine was awakened by the revelation that it is my nieces and nephews who are going to bear the brunt of the issues we have failed to address over the years. I love them dearly and have no desire to leave the world in such a mess, no more than I would leave a gun and ammunition laying around the house when they visit.

My personal motivation is to improve our society not for myself, but for those who come after us. But the truth is, I cannot do it alone. I need the help and mutual assistance of all those who wish to improve our society. I read postings and blog entries every day from people worried about where our society is and where it is going. I say its time to do something about it. We have the technology to fix many of the problems in our world. Those that cannot be fixed by technology will no doubt take greater effort, but we can do it!

All we need is the motivation.

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