THE GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.
May 17, 2011
Say your prayers little one
Don’t forget my son
To include everyone
I tuck you in
Keep you free from sin
‘Til the sandman he comes
Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight
Take my hand
We’re off to never never-land
Something’s wrong, shut the light
Heavy thoughts tonight
And they aren’t of snow white
Dreams of war
Dreams of lies
Dreams of dragons fire
And of things that will bite, yeah
Sleep with one eye open
Grippin’ your pillow tight … ENTER SANDMAN by METALLICA
Eighty years ago, the Great American Dream was to work hard, get a good education, prepare yourself to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities available in America, become financially successful, and leave a legacy.
Forty years ago, the Great American Dream evolved into living in a house in the suburbs, having two cars, two children, going to work (not to be confused with actually working) forty hours a week or less, having a salary that increased steady regardless of your performance, acquiring more paid-vacation days, spending more money than you made on consumer goods, and waiting to retire on Social Security.
Fast forward to today. What is the Great American Dream?
To win the lottery
To become a reality TV star by signing a “humiliation contract” that allows cameras to invade every aspect of your life and the more outrageous you appear, the more people want to watch you
To have a viral video on YouTube
To get a student loan
To get on food stamps, social security, disability or get a job in the public sector where you can get a pension for the rest of your life
To become a lifeguard in Newport Beach, California and make over 100K a year
To remain a child forever cradled in the arms of the nanny state
To have a wealthy relative die and leave you lots of money since you are certainly entitled to it just by virtue of being born
To rob a bank or pull off the perfect crime
To marry for money
To run a Ponzi scheme
To lie, cheat or steal to get money
To find a guru who will lead you out of your own personal wasteland into yet another personal wasteland or off a cliff into the ocean
To do nothing but “put it out there to the universe” and you will have good luck and money will drop down your chimney
To prey on elderly people who are frail, needy or in cognitive decline
To get away with anything and everything that permits you to renounce personal responsibility.
The great American Dream is to get rich quickly no matter what it takes. This has become the Great American nightmare. What happened to self-discipline, hard work, personal responsibility, striving to improve no matter what the cost, or (heaven forbid!) actually working?
I want to tell you something about my life that is no secret to those of you who know me or who have heard me speak. If it’s not of interest to you, I am not offended. I was born into extreme poverty. My parents may have had a high school education ( I am not sure about my mother, but I think my father graduated from high school). They both died in their mid-forties, leaving me penniless. I had zero, zilch, nada of material wealth and had to find a way to make it in the world. Fortunately, I didn’t end up in the gutter, although there were times when it was tempting—I assure you of that. My parents loved me beyond anything I can ever describe, and they taught me the value of hard work and education because they wanted for me what they did not have for themselves. I worked my way through high school, college, graduate school and medical school. Yes, I flipped burgers and sold shoes and took any job available even if I had no clue what to do—I learned quickly because failure was not an option. I made myself wealthy in every way—mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. No one did this for me and it took nearly 40 years and a lot of falling down and getting up again. A lot. Was it worth it and would I do it again? Absolutely. Why? Because I don’t owe anyone anything and my future rises or falls with me.
So what’s the lesson here? You have to be before you can do and then you have to do. There are no shortcuts that add meaning to life. There are only shortcuts that take away self-esteem and send you into servitude. In life and in trading, there are no easy solutions and it is a process of trial and error, of getting up and falling down and getting up again until you are so strong that nothing and no one can ever put you down again. Success is determined by the process that preceded it and each step is a building block to the next step. Dreams and hopes are great and much has been written and spoken about their value. I agree. HOWEVER– It is absolutely not enough to dream. It is not enough to hope. These are not viable strategies for life or trading. It takes work, diligence, discipline, persistence and practice, practice practice. Living or trading on hope or dreams without taking action is a sure recipe for your own personal Great American Nightmare.
The only solution is action with integrity. Do it and do it right and if you can’t get it right at first, keep trying. You can live your dreams and hopes only if you take action to be all that you truly are, to become the person you are now becoming and to thrive, survive, evolve and never stop growing. Do it now. If not now, then when?
Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.
Copyright: 2011: Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.: All Rights Reserved
Illustration Credit: http://www.pandys.org/survivingthememories/id13.html