On the path to an epic win

There have been times in the past when it was all about glory. People were passionate about doing things that had meaning – things that would last forever (or at least close). Think of all your ancestors’ heroic acts. They fought against evil, injustice, and slavery. They made scientific discoveries, discovered and explored new lands. We still have science, but today people seem more passionate about saving money on purchases and trying new diets than ever before.

We are an over-satisfied generation that associates words like “success” with money, “wellbeing” with the freedom to do nothing, “social influence” with networking, and “tenacity” with frugality. Sounds bad, doesn’t it?

But what happened to our passion for glory?

Here are the most likely answers:

  • Daily routine has killed our passion. We grew up focused on common things we could accomplish or succeed at, like jobs, being healthy, caring for kids or pets, etc. We started targeting too low.
  • We have replaced striving for glory with interest in it. We consume sports and celebrity news on a larger and larger scale. On our overpopulated planet, our chances for glory have decreased dramatically. That is why we prefer to consume other people’s glory.
  • We have begun looking for glory in places where it is far more likely to be found. Teenagers feel the need for independence, recognition and risk-taking, all of which are very close (at least in their minds) to glory. At some point, we began satisfying our teenagers’ needs by building “safe” environments and protected activities like roller-coaster-type rides, extreme sports, and video games – especially games that suck the player into complex (and false) virtual worlds.

What is the biggest threat in our lives? What stops us from accomplishing things that would have a lasting impact on the world?

I think the threat is instant gratification.

You know we are over-satisfied and over-informed. This means we have enough money to buy a lot of the heavily promoted, seductively advertised (and mostly useless or at least unnecessary) stuff that’s shoved at us constantly. But when you have enormous numbers of choices and more information than you could possibly absorb and evaluate (call it “noise”), it is quite a challenge to keep your attention on any one thing for any significant amount of time.

Yes, advertisements tell you “buy our product NOW;” banks promise they will “give you the money you need.” How can you resist? Meanwhile, kids’ desire for instant gratification is being more heavily encouraged than ever. Video games specialize in this. They push you to reach higher and higher levels, rack up higher scores, reach higher ranks, receive more and better badges, on and on. In real life, feedback on whatever you do is typically far, far from instant – it can’t hope to compete with the gaming experience. This is why so many kids become unhappy or depressed about real life and end up running away to their “comfortable” and “rewarding” virtual worlds.

Some things – worthwhile, especialy glorious things –  take TIME.

Do not let anyone stop you from dreaming BIG.