Live the dream

If you pay attention to the news you will be told that the current generation of young people faces far greater barriers than the baby-boomers who grew up in the 1950s. Social mobility is in decline, inequality is rising and big corporations increasingly run our lives.

Really? Let me give you an alternative perspective on reality.

Here’s how opportunity works:

stepstosuccess

All of us are fantastically creative. Nearly everyone has a dream. If you’re willing to do the hard work, then success can be yours.

If you ever wanted to be a writer, this is the best moment in the history of the world. Thanks to the self-publishing and e-book revolution, there are more published authors and more books now than ever before. Traditional publishers are watching helplessly as their market share declines and independent writers seize the opportunities presented by e-books, print-on-demand services and online retailers hungry for new titles. And best of all, self-published authors make more than writers with traditional deals.

If you ever wanted to be a musician, then grab the opportunity. Thanks to digital music, YouTube and social media, there are more musicians recording and releasing music (and making money from it) than ever before, and more people buying it. Record a track in your home and sell it on iTunes. Film a video with a smartphone camera and upload it to your own YouTube channel. Use Twitter to create a buzz around your band.

Want to start your own business? Thanks to the internet, the ever lower costs of office technology and the proliferation of business opportunities there are more entrepreneurs and self-employed workers now than ever before. You can run a small business from home and outsource jobs to workers in any country. There’s no need to fear big companies – you can easily outcompete them, both in cost and innovation. In the past two decades, small businesses accounted for two thirds of all new jobs created in the US.

Want to be a poet? Or write essays or short stories? Start a blog or become a micro-poet on Twitter! You may not make much money, but you can gain a readership of hundreds or thousands. And it may lead to a book or another opportunity in the future. It’s in your hands.

Whatever your dream, the opportunities to pursue it are probably greater now than ever before. The  internet, computers, smartphones and other technology are giving us far greater self-determination than any previous generation. If there are barriers, they are probably in your head. Don’t listen to those who say it won’t work. Don’t listen to the people who want you to fail. Get out there and prove them wrong.

Why are you still reading this blog? Go and live your dream!

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22 responses to “Live the dream

  1. I want to be king and have everyone do as I command. There is a lot to be fixed.

  2. This is a nice perspective. So relevant given the media’s bombardment of negativity!

  3. Sometimes the only thing that separates a successful person from one who’s given up is the perseverance that comes from this kind of positivity. Thanks for the lift! 🙂

  4. Excellent post Steve- thank you for the inspiration. Going to put a business plan together right now…. Hope you are having a good Easter.

  5. Loved the write up Steve….Inspiring….Want to see myself in the international map…striving for it…..working hard…living my dream…happy easter steve….

  6. Fan of Dickens

    I absolutely agree that technology has increased opportunities and hard work and a positive attitude goes a long way towards realising your dream, but I do think it depends on what we are looking at when we are assessing whether the current generation of young people has it easier or harder than previous generations, especially if we are looking at adolescents from poor families. It is far harder to buy your own place, for example, if you are starting out on a low income; wage increases have not kept pace with spiralling house prices. Legal Aid was easier to access in the eighties, to take another example, as were grants for University. In the seventies state schools offered free lessons if you wanted to learn a musical instrument – (you even had the long-term free loan of said instrument) which was a boon to hard up families who wanted their child to have the privilege of learning to play. Like others of my vintage I am grateful that I benefitted from all of the above. So I think that while we should encourage our children to be determined and positive, part of that encouragement should include the acknowledgment that while some factors are easier now, others are harder and that it is important to realise that some families are struggling through no fault of their own. That way, hopefully we will teach them some compassion as well as self reliance, and the ability to look at society as a whole. I say that because I often need reminding of it!

    • Yes, you are no doubt right. Some things are harder now. But I have heard too many people telling me that life is getting worse and I blew a fuse and wrote this article!

  7. Fan of Dickens

    I think I know what you mean. When I hear people complaining of “falling standards” in education, and remember the casual brutality of some teachers in the seventies complete with flying board rubbers, the phrase “rose tinted specs” comes to mind. So many things are better: dentistry; action against failing schools; life expectancy for people with HIV and certain cancers; the variety of food, technology ….it is an expanding list, so I am not surprised you blew a fuse!

  8. Everything you say here is true, on the micro level of the individual. We live in an age of tech wizardry and magic. Nurture your creative spark, dream big, work hard, taste success.

    But…

    On the macro level of our societies, the opportunity to succeed is not equally accessible to everyone. There are immense structural barriers baked into our socio-economic system, whose roots reach back centuries. The one-two punch of income inequality and wealth inequality has prevented many generations across large segments of society from achieving their potential. They want to climb the mountain, but they cannot get a foothold. This hits minority populations the hardest, but it cuts across lines of race, class, geography.

    And this is true even as some individuals have been able to succeed in spite of the deck being stacked against them. The success of any individual does not negate the forces arrayed against the group.

    What’s more, the trends are going in the wrong direction. People tend to dismiss the income/wealth inequality argument as academic rubbish. But consider this one startling statistic: in the US since the crash of 2008, the stock market has doubled and the economy has regained much of its strength – but 95% of the income and wealth generation of the last five years has gone to the richest 1% of the population. And the middle class has been losing ground for the past 30 years. This is unsustainable, and the fraying of American politics is a reflection of the shredding of the social fabric.

    So Steve, please forgive this comment that probably exceeds the wordcount of your post… but when you write “If there are barriers, they are probably in your head” – you belittle the substantial, all-too-real barriers to success and stability that are faced by the majority of people in the UK and the US. And I’m certain that is not your intent.

    • I hear what you say, but I honestly believe that the barriers are “in our heads”. As you may have read on this blog, I was born into an ordinary working family, yet I went to the most “elite” university in the country. The only barrier was in the head of my schoolmaster who tried to convince me that I could not go to Oxford.

      In 1998, even though I had no money and no investors to back me, I started a successful internet company. When I say successful, it took 10 years of hard work before I earned enough money to say that.

      It may be true that the richest 1% hold vast wealth, but that would only be a barrier if the situation were static. We no longer live in a feudal society. The 1% didn’t become rich by taking money from serfs, they became rich by creating wealth out of nothing through enterprise and innovation. And the most important fact of all is that today’s 1% is not the same people as the 1% of a generation ago. Most of the 1% didn’t inherit their wealth. They created it.

      When someone creates wealth, what does it mean? They invented a technology or a product or a service and they started a company to deliver it. They became rich by making people’s lives better, and in so doing they reinvested nearly all of their wealth into the company they created, in turn providing employment and opportunities for others.

      The 1% are not sitting on their wealth or spending it on luxuries. Their wealth is invested in the economy where it creates more wealth, jobs, products, services and technology for us all.

      You are welcome to pick holes in my arguments – I have laid out my thought process for you to see why I arrive at my conclusion.

      • Nope, not interested in picking holes in your argument, Steve. You represent your point of view clearly. I will only ask you to consider the possibility that the barriers you were able to overcome are not the only barriers faced by others.

        And to acknowledge that others, most others, simply have not had access to the opportunities you have had – that in no way diminishes your success.

        But, by the same token: your success in no way diminishes the barriers that prevent most others from the success you’ve had.

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