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Hope and confidence about the future

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You ain't see anything yet!

  • Nov 7, 2010
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Goal + Motivation + Drive = Success.

According to Michael Phelps, aside from special talent, you need all the above for record breaking moments. And he’s right.

The trouble is what is lacking in America now is precisely that. Overall, in many sectors, especially that of Finance and Banking. Along the way, Americans have lost their ways. The government is not helping much either. Individualism has always been prized in the western culture, yet when it comes to a country for its long term success, cohesiveness and unity are very much needed. Over the last 30 years, when China is unified in its goal, America seems to be interested only in maximizing profits, especially through churning and investing. To be fair, not everyone is doing that but the majority of those who are controlling the bulk of the money in the U.S. are doing that. Even after 2008, those who survived the crisis are still doing that today. Memory is short. Clearly, nothing has changed that much. It is harsh of me to say that, but I’m afraid that’s the truth. I just hope I’m wrong in this case.

When it comes to the Macro of things, it does appear America has lost its direction. Many have been hoping that President Obama will be able to unite the country but it’s less likely of that now. 2 years have passed and many out of America do not believe the next decade will belong to America. UNLESS, the people of America is going to take steps to begin to go back to the basics and not just build castle in the air. Printing more money being one of that. One can’t simply keep spending money which one doesn’t have, can one? America still has the innovation and the goodwill to pull the country out of “depression” but she needs to do so quickly! Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Open your eyes and see what’s been happening around the world, especially in China, India and Brazil. People in these countries are living with optimism, drive and motivation to succeed. I see that clearly in my 3+ years living in China. In other advanced countries, many have lost the will to succeed. Many are living in pessimism, including those living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Athens, Paris and Washington DC! Many feel that they cannot cope with the high costs of living, that their children will end up paying for this generation’s debts in the future. Many wants to work less and for more money! Wake up!!! You ain’t see anything yet from your competitors. They work long hours and sacrifices for a brighter future. When they learn how to work smarter than you, that’s Armageddon!

It is hard to convince those who have not lived in China, India and Brazil that the world has changed and is still changing rapidly while they have been sleeping. That despite the fact that some of the Made in China or Made in India products may be cheap stuff and of inferior quality, many of them are not that! That these countries have their goals and directions mapped out over the next generation. They know where they are going! Do you?

You may doubt what I’m trying to say here… but, take a look at what Thomas Friedman has been saying in his last few columns and you’ll know that every American who is not living in the country is already coming to grip with the situation. There is always an energy generated in a country which unless you’re there, you won’t feel it through the pictures or media. That’s why traveling to a country gives you a perspective like none other.  Staying there gives one an insight that no matter how hard one tries to overlook, one can’t!
Sep. 12, 2010: We’re No. 1(1)!

“I want to share a couple of articles I recently came across that, I believe, speak to the core of what ails America today but is too little discussed. The first was in Newsweek under the ironic headline “We’re No. 11!” The piece, by Michael Hirsh, went on to say: “Has the United States lost its oomph as a superpower? Even President Obama isn’t immune from the gloom. ‘Americans won’t settle for No. 2!’ Obama shouted at one political rally in early August. How about No. 11? That’s where the U.S.A. ranks in Newsweek’s list of the 100 best countries in the world, not even in the top 10.” …

… “There is a lot to Samuelson’s point — and it is a microcosm of a larger problem we have not faced honestly as we have dug out of this recession: We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism. Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it. And far too many of us were happy to buy the dot-com and subprime crack for quick prosperity highs.

Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.””

… “Who will tell the people? China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have free markets like we do, education like we do, access to capital and technology like we do, but, most importantly, values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.

In a flat world where everyone has access to everything, values matter more than ever. Right now the Hindus and Confucians have more Protestant ethics than we do, and as long as that is the case we’ll be No. 11!”
Sep. 18, 2010: Aren’t we cleaver?

“So while America’s Republicans turned “climate change” into a four-letter word — J-O-K-E — China’s Communists also turned it into a four-letter word — J-O-B-S.” …

“I am in the E.U. and China because the above-ground plastic mines are there or are being created there,” said Biddle, who just won The Economist magazine’s 2010 Innovation Award for energy/environment. “I am not in the U.S. because there aren’t sufficient mines.”
Biddle had enough money to hire one lobbyist to try to persuade the U.S. Congress to copy the recycling regulations of Europe, Japan and China in our energy bill, but, in the end, there was no bill. So we educated him, we paid for his tech breakthroughs — and now Chinese and European workers will harvest his fruit. Aren’t we clever?”

Sep. 21, 2010: Too many hamburgers?

“ I am not praising China because I want to emulate their system. I am praising it because I am worried about my system. In deliberately spotlighting China’s impressive growth engine, I am hoping to light a spark under America.

Studying China’s ability to invest for the future doesn’t make me feel we have the wrong system. It makes me feel that we are abusing our right system. There is absolutely no reason our democracy should not be able to generate the kind of focus, legitimacy, unity and stick-to-it-iveness to do big things — democratically — that China does autocratically. We’ve done it before. But we’re not doing it now because too many of our poll-driven, toxically partisan, cable-TV-addicted, money-corrupted political class are more interested in what keeps them in power than what would again make America powerful, more interested in defeating each other than saving the country.”…

“Orville Schell of the Asia Society, one of America’s best China watchers, who was with me in Tianjin, put it perfectly: “Because we have recently begun to find ourselves so unable to get things done, we tend to look with a certain overidealistic yearning when it comes to China. We see what they have done and project onto them something we miss, fearfully miss, in ourselves” — that “can-do,” “get-it-done,” “everyone-pull-together,” “whatever-it-takes” attitude that built our highways, dams and put a man on the moon.

“These were hallmarks of our childhood culture,” said Schell. “But now we view our country turning into the opposite, even as we see China becoming animated by these same kinds of energies. I don’t idealize China’s system of government. I don’t want to live in an authoritarian system. But I do feel compelled to look at China in an objective way and acknowledge the successes of this system.” That doesn’t mean advocating that we become like China. It means being alive to the challenge we are up against and even finding ways to cooperate with China. “The very retro notion that we are undisputedly still No. 1,” added Schell, “is extremely dangerous.””

Sep. 25, 2010: Their Moon Shot and Ours

“China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

This contrast is not good.”…

Sep. 28, 2010: The Tea Kettle Movement

“The Tea Party that has gotten all the attention, the amorphous, self-generated protest against the growth in government and the deficit, is what I’d actually call the “Tea Kettle movement” — because all it’s doing is letting off steam.

That is not to say that the energy behind it is not authentic (it clearly is) or that it won’t be electorally impactful (it clearly might be). But affecting elections and affecting America’s future are two different things. Based on all I’ve heard from this movement, it feels to me like it’s all steam and no engine. It has no plan to restore America to greatness.” …

“The issues that upset the Tea Kettle movement — debt and bloated government — are actually symptoms of our real problem, not causes. They are symptoms of a country in a state of incremental decline and losing its competitive edge, because our politics has become just another form of sports entertainment, our Congress a forum for legalized bribery and our main lawmaking institutions divided by toxic partisanship to the point of paralysis.”…

To me, that is a plan that starts by asking: what is America’s core competency and strategic advantage, and how do we nurture it? Answer: It is our ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent. That means men and women who invent, build and sell more goods and services that make people’s lives more productive, healthy, comfortable, secure and entertained than any other country.

Leadership today is about how the U.S. government attracts and educates more of that talent and then enacts the laws, regulations and budgets that empower that talent to take its products and services to scale, sell them around the world — and create good jobs here in the process. Without that, we can’t afford the health care or defense we need.”

Oct. 30: it’s Morning in India

“This week’s award for not knowing what world you’re living in surely goes to the French high school and college students who blockaded their campuses, and snarled rail traffic, in a nationwide strike against the French government’s decision to raise its pension retirement age from 60 to 62. If those students understood the hypercompetitive and economically integrated world they were living in today, they would have taken to the streets to demand smaller classes, better teaching, more opportunities for entrepreneurship and more foreign private investment in France — so they could have the sorts of good private sector jobs that would enable them to finance retirement at age 62. France already discovered that a 35-hour workweek was impossible in a world where Indian engineers were trying to work a 35-hour day — and so, too, are pension levels not sustained by a vibrant private sector.

What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting.

With President Obama scheduled to come here next week, at a time when more than a few U.S. politicians are loudly denouncing immigration reforms, free trade expansion and outsourcing, more than a few Indian business leaders want to ask the president: “What’s up with that?” Didn’t America export to the world all the technologies and free market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field — and now you’re turning against them?

“It is the Silicon Valley revolution which enabled the massive rise in tradable services and the U.S.-built telecommunication networks that allowed creation of the virtual office,” Nayan Chanda, the editor of YaleGlobal Online, wrote in the Indian magazine Businessworld this week. “But the U.S. seems sadly unprepared to take advantage of the revolution it has spawned. The country’s worn-out infrastructure, failing education system and lack of political consensus have prevented it from riding a new wave to prosperity.” Ouch.”…

“India and America are both democracies, a top Indian official explained to me, but emotionally they are now ships passing in the night. Because today the poorest Indian maid believes that if she can just save a few dollars to get her kid English lessons, that kid will have a better life than she does. So she is an optimist. “But the guy in Kansas,” he added, “who today is enjoying a better life than that maid, is worried that he can’t pass it on to his kids. So he’s a pessimist.”

Yes, when America lapses into a bad mood, everyone notices. After asking for an explanation of the Tea Party’s politics, Gupta remarked: “We have moved away from a politics of grievance to a politics of aspiration. Where is the American dream? Where is the optimism?”

Yes indeed. Where is the optimism?

Many of us in the developed or developing world need to find that optimism in ourselves and our lives. We live each day like the clockworks. We thought we know where we are going but we forget that the paths may have changed and there are bends which lead to dead ends. We assumed what worked in the past will work in the future. We forgot to stop and enjoy the ride. We forget that the journey is more important than the destination. There are so many things that we may have done differently if we knew how the end is not what we pictured it to be.

Yes, in life we need to have a goal and even goals. We have to find a way to motivate ourselves and the drive to improve our situations. We need to find our direction in life. Without optimism, we won't be able to find THE way.
You ain't see anything yet!

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November 27, 2010
Very nice write up! One of my faves from you so far...though I have to say I am more of a pessimist :)
November 11, 2010
Wonderful piece Sharrie!
More Optimism reviews
Quick Tip by . December 22, 2010
Check out this article by Economist: The redistribution of Hope. Highly interesting when perspective changes!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Unlike optimal thinking .[1] which is realistic in nature, being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to inpsychology as dispositional optimism. Researchers sometimes operationalize the term differently depending on their research, however. For example, Martin Seligman and his fellow researchers define it in terms of explanatory style, which is based on the way one explains life events. As for any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style. While the heritability of optimism is largely debatable, most researchers agree that it seems to be a biological trait to some small degree, but it is also thought that optimism has more to do with environmental factors, making it a largely learned trait.[2] It has also been suggested that optimism could appear to be a hereditary trait because it is actually a...
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