How Lazy Intellectualism Destroyed the American Dream.

Business life used to be brutal for the American worker.  Working hours started early in the morning and ended long after the sun went down.  Quite frequently, the pay was for pennies a day. And if you worked for yourself -- like most in farming -- you might never see any payment at all until you gathered your crops or your cattle and ventured into town once a year to generate banking credit.  Credit that was likely more useful for trading than buying goods.

But despite the brutality of business life in America 150 years ago, success was simple.

There was an American dream.

Despite how bad it got, you believed that it was a noble calling.  You believed that eventually the dream resulted in your success.

More importantly you knew the secret to that success -- mind blowing amounts of outrageous effort.

It was that simple.

You worked until you couldn't work any longer, and somehow when you were finished working you found your dream.  You found the reason for your struggle.  And it was worth every drop of sweat.

But then we started thinking about it too much.

Instead of wanting our children to work in the fields or the factory, we thought that better education was the secret to success.

And it worked.

A new generation of educated Americans fought violently in bold endeavors to capture the American dream like their parents were never able to.

But they didn't just work smarter.  They worked harder, smarter.

More education really wasn't entirely the secret to this generation's new found success.

Education was just a license to dream.

By learning what they didn't know, this new generation was inspired.  Inspired to dream new dreams.  Bigger dreams.

But the dream was coupled with a relentless dedication to hard work.  Bigger dreams demanded even more effort.

Fast forward 100 years.

We still think being smart is important.  There are more options then ever to get an education.  Easy access to student loans, employer reimbursement programs, and free online access to elite mind-share from universities like MIT, Wharton, and Stanford make working smarter a "no brainer".

So why aren't we successful?  And why does the American Dream seem elusive?

Surprisingly, the answer is a little less sophisticated than you might expect.

We've become too smart to live an inspired life.  Our bias for intellectualism has stolen our dreams from us.

More importantly, we don't match working smarter with working even harder.  We trade destiny for what we hope is a smarter business plan.

Ignorance isn't bliss.

It won't grow your business or help you capture your dreams.  But neither will smarts.

Knowing what to do and the thirteen alternative ways to doing it isn't the secret to you being successful.

It's about being inspired.  It's about looking a failed economy and cash-constrained business in the eye and deciding to live boldly.

It is an emotion not a business course you learned in college.

And it is exactly what American workers need.  What American leaders need.  What Americans need.

  • Not another handout.
  • Not another bailout.
  • Not another speech, election, or political squabble.

Americans need help.

They need a dream.

They need to believe that it's going to be okay.

No amount of intellectualism, no amount of reasoning, no amounts of debate can convince fearful business people to believe.

They must be inspired.

No matter how you try to frame the discussion, smarter policy and plans can't replace passion.

You can think about the dream.

Or you can live it.