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American pollsters like asking the question: “Do you think the country is on the right track?”
Yet for a nation currently known for its disunited electorate, Black-President-Hating Right, and obstructionist, do-nothing, dysfunctional GOP-led government, ranked #93 in income inequality with China, India and Iran no less doing far better, it is obsessed with the wrong question. I observed the same thing with certain African countries, where so many in the diaspora have given up on their own people. Having failed to change their mindset. In Africa, ego-driven, insular, 24/7 politics obsessed with blaming politicians rather than fixing the self. In Trump's USA, a 24/7 mindset of hostility, drama, dysfunction & instability. That's their normal.
The question of HOW to get out of its own way, I'd argue, is of prime importance. HOW to disentangle itself from negative, self-destructive values morphing into violence and terrorism so as to be able to function properly and equitably in a way that can be tracked. And yet so it is with so many of us.
People wrongly think economic success alone guarantees happiness or shows they're on the right track when exhaustive research every year — from high divorce rates, China to U.S., global suicide, depression and mental illness, and South Koreans' own dislike for their country, just to name a few — disprove that.
For those who genuinely want to be on the right track however, Denis Waitley put it beautifully years ago. And while Politics is beyond the control of most, the one thing that is, is one's mindset. And their emancipation from the unacceptable. That is why the theme for Spring 2016 is Emancipation.
Sure, we'll dabble in some Politics of pragmatism. Here, as usual. But for someone with overwhelming bias for evidence-based data and analytics as I am, the focus will be on exposing and addressing problems with core values and assumptions. Starting with the self. Personal ethics. That is, leading yourself first, before assuming leadership of, or even the right, to pass judgment on others.
Yes. We're talking about going back to basics. Because self-righteousness is rampant. And yet there's nothing genuinely successful, fulfilling, or even “Christian/Conservative” (if you don't like “religious”) about being the richest country or person on earth and yet aloof about your complicity in contributing to humanity's suffering.
To be on the right track and validate your progress:
Actively, consistently and permanently quit all the above and following destructive habits in ways that can be objectively verified.
Actively, consistently and permanently quit self-destructive health habits be they unhealthy eating habits/foods, abuse of prescription medication, narcotics, drugs, alcohol; lack of exercise, etc. in ways that can be objectively verified.
Seek inspiration, motivation and challenge from purpose-driven, values-driven, high-achieving, law-abiding role models and mentors ONLY. And here, I introduce my Objective Verification Measure, —HOW you know you really are getting it right:
Can my best, trusted friends pass a stringent criminal background check or positive vetting? Do they have a long track record of good judgment? Can they can't pass the smell test, when it matters most?
Your crooked, legally and/or ethically challenged longtime friend, business associate or relative who is always in trouble, in jail, or who contributed to your winding up in jail; always violating others' rights, breaking the law, encouraging you to do the same — the one who lacks the courage and moral fiber to stand up to you whenever you're wrong CANNOT free you from depravity and steer you back to the right track. Ditch them. If your answer to ALL or most of the above doesn't inspire confidence.
You don't have to know a Bill Gates, Oprah and such to be positively inspired by them.
In the Digital Age, a simple smartphone with internet connection is your best friend IF you can't find the right friends. Assuming you don't live under a repressive regime where Internet Freedoms are severely restricted, a strategic approach to the Internet can propel you. Ask yourself:
To name a few: the BBC, New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR (National Public Radio), Reuters (my personal favorite) and CNN — albeit stylistically sensationalist — take pains to get journalism right. If for no better reason, because they have a reputation to lose.
There's a big difference between made-up news that is consistently lose with ANY facts inconvenient with its agenda and/or ideology.
Notoriously, Fox News, aggregate “news” websites and ideologically-driven blogs and news sources, heavily opinionated podcasts, webcasts and Youtube talking heads won't make you smart. They only lead one down the path of conspiracy theory, stupefying even college-educated and robbing them of the ability to make informed decisions. I know this for a fact because I have both friends and relatives who have wound up on the wrong side of the law obsessively pursuing the narrative of such “news” and “information” sources.
Verify. And be mindful of the source. Again, ask yourself:
Does what I know and/or believe pass internationally recognized ethical/legal tests and norms?
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and successful startups, actively, consistently and permanently commit to worthwhile goals and stretch goals (from ideation, execution, amplification to failure and success), in ways that can be objectively verified.
Yes. Exceptions and reasonable boundaries apply. But as President Theodore Roosevelt said: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
Do not cast your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6).
Plato said: “As there are misanthropists or haters of men, so also are there misologists, or haters of ideas.” And logically, any person, company or community of ingrates and anti-intellectuals and misologsts perennially committed to undermining others, to mediocracy, to finding fault, subversion, obstruction and/or taking anything good you out and negatively spinning it with malicious intent, will do less to keep you on the right track. Emancipate yourself.
Respect yourself at all times and under all circumstances enough to remember WHAT you stand for, WHERE you came from, and WHY protecting your destiny is important. Albeit NOT at the expense of others, a theme we will be exploring throughout this Spring as we delve into U.S. Politics.
If you're attracted to, and find drama and rancor entertaining — everything ranging from Jerry Springer-like trash to websites, forums and media devoted to “beef”, “shade”, “diss”, etc. — you're NOT on the right track. Because highly successful, purpose-driven, and honorable people don't have time for that. They'd much rather make a positive impact.
Not sure? Compare and contrast Bill Gates' international reputation (on and off Social Media) and Donald Trump. Or rappers always in trouble. Examples are legion. And you'll do well to remember it is perfectly possible to be fun-loving, a prankster even, without stooping low. But above all:
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