Monday 1 March 2010

The Confusion Virus

As a child I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. As an adult, I still don't, and I believe this confusion virus is spreading like wildfire. The media (all types), big business, Universities (perhaps even schools) and now social media breathe the virus into all of us...and I wonder if anyone is working on a cure? Is this a virus without a cure? Is it a virus that does more good than harm?

We read about headline success stories, the 'one in a million' person that achieves something incredible, and we can almost taste it for ourselves. Should we do what they did?...we can do that...we should do that! We are constantly comparing and moulding ourselves to a benchmark that doesn't exist - at least not outside our own minds and the media frenzy.

On observation, in business it seems that the new form of entrepreneurship is not about setting up a physical store or offering an on-site service, but rather doing something on the Internet and something for ourselves...and our benchmark for success is presented by the media in headlines, by Universities in case studies and in social media by word of mouth. We believe we don't have to sell because the internet is so big it sells itself; we believe it is easier working from home than commuting to work every morning; we believe that raising $10 million for our business is just a matter of time; we believe all the millionaires in the headlines achieved their success with little or no help; we believe it is all too easy. We are confused by the signals of mass media and the reality of life.

Last night, Canada beat the USA in the ice hockey final at the Olympics 3-2 in overtime. Their victory was stunning and deserved but the headlines only reflect the glory, not the blood, sweat and tears that have got the team to that point in history. The headlines make us focus on Crosby and propel him disproportionately ahead of all the other players, as if he was the only person on the team. The problem with the virus I am writing about is that it blurs our vision and doesn't allow us to appreciate the full picture.

I have seldom been one to compete with anyone else for status, money, and possessions (a rare character trait my Dad has blessed me with) but I would be lying if I said that it isn't a struggle to avoid doing so. In my life, the confusion virus presents as a different strain. I haven't been led to believe that I deserve or need what others have, but I have been buoyed into believing that anything is possible and why should I not do the best I possibly can to achieve wealth and material riches? Without this belief I know that progress in the world is unachievable; but with it, I wonder how many people are struggling to provide? many marriages are crumbling under the pressures of debt?...and how many heart attacks and strokes are induced by the realities of failure?

Are we on a collision course with reality or can we concentrate our energies sufficient enough to realise that life and all it's rewards demand dedication, single-mindedness, and all the other strong character traits?...and what of the softer traits - selflessness, sincerity, humility, love, care, compassion? Has the virus crushed those already or might they be our only hope for a cure?

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