Recently, I was discussing the recession of 2007 with a friend and it stirred up a few emotions for me. It was a pretty painful time for a great many of us. When the underbelly of the banks was exposed we all realized the fraudulent behavior that had existed over time. The scariest thing, at least for me, was the ability of people to turn a deaf ear to potential long-term consequences and continue to focus on their short-term gratification. In fact, the entire recession was based on short-term greed and the unwillingness to commit to the long-term.
Prior to the recession, anyone could get a mortgage or grab a new car with zero percent down. Thousands of homes were being thrown up and people, in general, were spending money like it was their job. Eventually, a backlash occurred and it hit us right in the mouth.
The American Dream used to be about getting a 30-year mortgage, working hard for one company, and then paying off your house. It used to be about dedicating your life to the dream. Twelve years later, you could argue that we still have this feeling that we must get what we deserve right now. In fact, I worry that we have a generation growing up in a such a “short-term” world that they cannot project themselves beyond the moment.
I’m not sure what changed and when. Maybe technology made everything seem so easy that we didn’t think we needed to make sacrifices. Or maybe the explosion of video and social networks led to the constant broadcast of fame and fortune and resulted in tremendous pressure to keep up with the Kardashians.
The path less traveled is not a shortcut. It is lined with thickets of thorned bushes and winds down a treacherous trail. It was never the easiest choice, especially when the other path has fast-food stops and in-flight entertainment. However, taking the long road of hard work and perseverance is still the most fruitful.
I remember the recession vividly because I started Conduit Inc in 2007. The economy caved in a year later and scared the living “you know what” out of me. But, I let go of the moment and decided to focus on pushing forward by doing something worthwhile. In turn, my greatest thrill is that I took the long road, fell a few times, and kept going. It has filled my soul and continues to do so today by allowing our custom publishing team to use our imagination.
Ironically, imagination has suffered along with the idea of the long term strategy. Today, we all have our devices inches from our face and are being entertained to no end. We no longer run outside and play. We don’t dress up and imagine ourselves as somebody else. And we don’t dream anymore because Youtube does it for us.
Those that choose to break free and dream will change the world. Those who find purpose in their hearts and the strength to go the distance will be enriched forever. And those that pick up their heads, observe the world and commit to creating their own long-term story will know true happiness.
As the old self helper Jack Canfield once said, “The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favor. No matter how hard it seems, the longer you persist, the more likely your success.”
It is time to go the distance.
CEO, Conduit, Inc.
Mark Potter is the CEO of Conduit Inc, a content marketing organization, which produces a variety of publications and community building programs including CANVAS Magazine. In addition, Mark is the author of the book, Egrets, Hockey Sticks, & Roller Skates and sits on the Electronic Document Scholarship Board.