On December 5, 2012, English rapper-poet Suli Breaks posted a video that took the internet by storm. With over 500,000 hits in the first couple of days, and over 2.5 million to date, this youtube video went viral almost the second it was released.
This young college graduate, turned self-styled poet, takes a strong stance on schooling, urging the world’s youth to “understand your motives and reassess your aims.”
“Let’s look at the statistics,” Suli Breaks says, pointing to moguls worth billions of dollars as examples of those who succeeded without graduating from a institution of higher learning: the late Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Jackson.
He also points to icons who are famous not for their money but for their impact such as Jesus, Muhammad, Socrates, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X, Spielburg, Shakespeare, Jesse Owens, and Beethoven.
He is not saying that education is a waste; on the contrary, he is simply saying that there is a huge gulf between education and schooling.
“Redefine how you view education; understand its true meaning,” Suli Breaks says. “Education is not just about regurgitating facts from a book on someone else’s opinion on a subject to pass an exam. Look at it. Picasso was educated in creating art. Shakespeare was educated in the art of all that was written. Colonel Harland Sanders was educated in the art of creating Kentucky fried chicken.”
Sometimes if takes a young black poet to help us see what is right in front of us.
Are technology and education merging or fighting each other? This post explores how business development and disruptive innovation impacts education.
15 years ago Clayton Christensen published a best selling book entitled The Innovator’s Dilemma.
Christensen is considered a leader in the field of business development especially in times of vast technological advancement and improvement.
Christensen explores the phenomenon of why firms fail despite being leaders in their market, willing and able to compete with the best, and capable of continuous innovations within their industry.
He explains the differences between what he calls “sustaining technologies” and “disruptive innovations.”
“Sustaining technological changes” are not the problem for leaders in an industry. Time and time again, they showed their ability to compete in the high end of their market, innovating and at times dealing with radical technological changes.
And because these are sustaining innovations, these improvements are almost always best utilized by the firms that already have a prominent position in an industry.
New businesses attempting to compete by means of these sorts of innovations often fail, because the established firms nearly always have more money, more established relationships with clients, a better reputation, and more technological prowess in the market. According to Christensen, “the leaders of an industry don’t fail because they become passive, arrogant, or risk-averse or because they can’t keep up with the stunning rate of technological change.”
Industry giants only face real trouble when it comes to what are called “disruptive innovations” – these are the changes that topple industry leaders.
These are not radical improvements – quite the contrary, disruptive innovations are usually innovations that are either so inexpensive that they open a new market, or start in a niche that the industry doesn’t care about because it’s too small.
Under the radar disruptive technology often grows faster than users’ needs and with time catches up to and surpasses the more high-end or mainstream technologies that are the domain of industry leaders.
An example that has nothing to do with “high tech” comes from the mechanical excavator industry. This industry was dominated by “steam powered,” “cable driven” mechanical shovels until the 1920’s, when gasoline powered engines began to replace them.
This was, however, not a disruptive innovation but a sustaining one. The design of the machines changed radically from that of a steam-powered engine moving a system of cables, to that of a gasoline engine driving a system to extend and retract the cables connected to the bucket.
The new engines were more capable than the old ones, and were better at doing more work more reliably, and cheaper than the old system.
But even though the power source changed and the machine design improved, it was still a cable technology driven machine, so despite the radical change in the industry, the same firms that were strongest in steam shovels stayed on top.
The disruptive change came with the introduction of hydraulics after World War II.
The new hydraulic-actuated systems (replacing the network of physical cables)—a change that eliminated nearly all of the established players by about 1970—opened the door for new untried companies willing to take a chance on this new radical technology.
The first hydraulic-based excavators were less capable than the cable systems that were in existence, and certainly couldn’t compete with them. However, they were small enough that they could be deployed for jobs previously done by hand, opening up a new market, in which the desired attributes were quite different from the big jobs that the cable actuated excavators were used for.
The technology involved in hydraulics continued to improve, however, and with time eventually equaled and then surpassed the needs formerly filled by cable-based systems.
While all of this new innovation was going on, the established firms were still going strong, and didn’t take much notice, if any, of the new technology or the new businesses using it (the newcomers were not considered competition as they could not compete with the big industries existing client base).
Suddenly, so it seemed, (really a period of a decade or two) the new arrivals were “in the midst of the mainstream market.”
By the time the established companies realized what was happening and introduced their own hydraulics it was too late, and the fledging businesses that had appeared to be of no account were better positioned with the new technology.*
Moving from the world of mechanical improvements into our universe of high tech, Clayton Christensen had this to say about disruptive technologies in a March 2013 Wired Magazine interview:
Howe (interviewer): If you had to list some industries right now that are either in a state of disruptive crisis or will be soon, what would they be?
Christensen: Journalism, certainly, and publishing broadly. Anything supported by advertising. That all of this is being disrupted is now beyond question.
And then I think higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse. Generally, universities are doing very well financially, so they don’t feel from the data that their world is going to collapse.
But I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble.
Howe: Why is higher education vulnerable?
Christensen: The availability of online learning. It will take root in its simplest applications, then just get better and better. You know, Harvard Business School doesn’t teach accounting anymore, because there’s a a guy out of BYU whose online accounting course is so good. He is extraordinary, and our accounting faculty, on average, is average.
Howe: What happens to all our institutions of advanced learning?
Christensen: Some will survive. Most will evolve hybrid models, in which universities license some courses from an online provider like Coursera but then provide more-specialized courses in person. Hybrids are actually a principle regardless of industry. If you want to use a new technology in a mainstream existing market, it has to be a hybrid. It’s like the electric car.
If you want to have a viable electric car, you have to ask if there is a market where the customers want a car that won’t go far or fast. The answer is, parents of teenagers would love to put their teens in a car that won’t go far or fast. Little by little, the technology will emerge to take it on longer trips. But if you want to have this new technology employed on the California freeways right now, it has to be a hybrid like a Prius, where you take the best of the old with the best of the new.
Monticello College is certainly not a disruptive technology, nor will we be competing with large universities any time soon. But we are positioned perfectly to take advantage of emerging disruptive technologies and we do occupy a unique niche and employ the hybrid concept creatively.
We believe that just like the bursting of the 2008 real estate bubble, there exists a higher education “tuition” bubble and that over the next five to ten years it will burst creating a real crisis for higher education. Our business model and academic structure is designed to accommodate these coming changes and provide stability and high quality liberal education for decades to come.
*Thanks to www.squeezedbooks.com
We have spent considerable space in these posts discussing education, particularly the liberal arts.
This post is dedicated to the lesser known side of our curriculum—the manual arts.
Manual arts are not something that the average American thinks about in the 21st century.
But a hundred years ago, the vast majority of Americans were engaged in the manual arts everyday.
In fact, excluding the last 60 years of developed nations, manual arts were the reality for nearly the entire global population. Even now, most of the seven billion inhabitants on earth engage in the manual arts daily.
Without the manual arts, most of what we enjoy almost unconsciously, would not exist. In our high-tech, synthetic, and artificial world, we have reached a “roman” sense of existence—the only difference from then to now—we just have more sophisticated slaves.*
In a very thought-provoking article by Oliver DeMille, The Future of American Education: 8 Trends Every Parent Should Understand, DeMille gives us a glimpse of what we have become:
Since 2001 a number of social commentators have noted that as a society we are outsourcing more and more of the things that were typically done by families (one of the best works on this is The Future of Business by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich).
For example, the following list includes things done almost entirely by families in the year 1900:
Reading Bedtime Stories
Taking Care of Animals
The list has changed in the past century, and the victim has been the family. Perhaps the “Big 5” on the list are:
Childcare, which has been outsourced, especially in urban America, to professional childcare institutions.
Food Preparation, which has been outsourced to fast food and pre-packaged meals. For example, 1999 was the first year in which expenditures in the U.S. for fast food exceeded expenditures for groceries.
Entertainment, which used to consist of families reading together or activities like group picnics and outings. Today, even when families are together, they usually sit facing away from each other toward a television, movie screen, or sporting event.
Teaching Religion, which was once seen as the role of parents with the preacher lending a helping hand, is now almost entirely outsourced to the pastor or Sunday school teacher or to some secular alternative.
Education, which historically was overseen by parents who hired and evaluated teachers and did much of the instruction themselves, has now been almost fully outsourced to “the experts.”
Another huge trend, which already has drastic consequences that are only beginning to be understood, is the outsourcing of counseling between husband and wife (discussion of their fears, anxieties, worries and fondest dreams) to expert counselors.
Perhaps the 54% divorce rate in the U.S. is connected to this; as Allan Bloom** pointed out in 1987, people live, sleep and sometimes eat together, but they don’t think, dream and work together toward a common goal in the same way that our grandparents did. This delegation of intimacy to the experts may yet be the biggest trend of all.
And what is the impact of using videos or DVDs in the place of reading bedtime stories to toddlers? The outsourcing of our families and the things only families can do well is a growing trend, and a very sobering commentary on the future of our society.
Historians might compare it to the fateful practice among French women in the 1750s-1780s of not nursing their own children—of instead turning them over to wet nurses. Few would argue that this was the only cause of the bloodbath and societal fall in the French Revolution in the 1780s, but almost everyone agrees that this was a significant part of it.
So, with all these duties being outsourced, what is left that only the family can do? According to the new economy – nothing. The leading view today is that “It Takes a Village,” that even love can be outsourced to teachers, coaches, clubs, and mentors.
The truth is that it does take a village, a community, but a community of families working, playing, cooperating and facing obstacles together, not a community of government institutions.
This idea of outsourcing seems to be a national pastime, albeit there does appear to be a small underground resurgence of the manual arts illustrated by websites such as theurbanfarmingguys.com.
One of the reasons we have disowned the use of the manual arts is due to the steady progression of technology. The advent of labor saving devices (LSDs) has improved our lives in many ways. It has also been the underlying source of a whole host of sedentary lifestyle diseases. Where is the balance?
Labor saving devises or the greater concept of saving labor has an interesting history.
From the advent of the Industrial Revolution, saving labor changed the world from mere survival to producing a cash crop beyond subsistence or allowing a farmer increased discretionary time for more favored pursuits.
By the 1970s the workingman was able to produce much more with a fraction of the backbreaking labor required a century before which stabilized into a 40-hour work-week…increasing discretionary time even further.
It also freed the American housewife of many undesirable chores, and like her spouse, freed up significant “my time”…but to what end?
If it was to allow them to relax a little more, no harm down. If it permitted more time to give to others or to develop talents that would be good too, but unfortunately for most of people, it led to their less ambitious side with copious amounts of time being devoted to the latest entertainment and diversion– Television– late morning and afternoon soap opera TV series such as the “Dark Shadows” or “General Hospital”, and time devouring shows such as “The Price is Right.”
It allowed them more time to engage in recreation and entertainment on the weekends, often ignoring family, relationships, and service to neighbors, and expanding into long weekends which monopolized the traditional Sabbath for non-Sabbath day activities.
By the 1990s we were thoroughly absorbed by a numbing consumerism, life had gotten pretty easy so labor saving was really no longer the goal, but keeping up with the “Jones,” and securing the latest fashions or gadget, or the newest car, or a bigger house was—this really exploded with the advent of computer technology, gaming, and home entertainment from the late 1990s to the present.
The latest chapter in our American LSDs story is resulting in skyrocketing obesity— 70% of all adults and 30% of children in America suffer from poor health and diseases not seen two decades ago.
According to Popular Mechanics (2011), every man should possess certain basic manual art skills.
They provided a list for men to become more manly, clearly an indication that males no longer possess these skills.
Removing anything on the list that was technology related, I am including the remaining 16 manual arts that the modern man has apparently lost:
1. Sharpen a knife
2. Patch a radiator hose
3.Frame a wall
4. Back-up a trailer
5. Build campfire
6. Use an ax properly to chop wood
7. Fix a dead outlet
8. Navigate with a compass and map
9. Fillet a fish
10. Get a car unstuck
11. Paint a room
12. Mix concrete
13. Clean a gun
14. Change oil in a car (and know that the filter needs to be changed too)
15. Paddle a canoe
16. Fix a bike flat
While writing this post, my 22-year-old daughter looked over my shoulder, saw the topic and stated that of her closest 15 male friends ( ages 20-30) only one had competency with all the items on this list. Things that four decades ago any self-respecting man did himself–only specialists can handle today.
Today there are 184 million active facebook users in America (that’s 60% of our entire population) spending more than two hours a week on facebook, but if you factor in all online activities (all social media, all gaming, all youtube viewing and other online videos, etc) the percentage sky rockets to almost 25% of our awake time.
For the average American over the age of 16 that can be as much as five hours a day, every day or the equivalent of an entire work week per month. This does not include texting, and playing games on our iphones.
This is all time wherein we are distracted from our loved ones, our community and our social responsibilities.
How do we not see that this is a monumental waste of our national resource of labor, not to mention a decline of our national character?
We are so far removed from reality that we even believe that we can get a sense of the plight of the third world farmer through playing a video game!
LSDs and the specialization of the consumer age has not only made us inept to care for ourselves, it has driven the cost of living many times over what it was just fifty years ago. Are our lives really better and more satisfying now compared to the 1940s?
Working as a youngster on a dairy farm in the mid 1970’s, I worked along side sixty year-old men who never had high cholesterol and very little arthritis. They had no weight problems (a little pudgy—they were in their sixties) and were active in every other way. They could put in a 12-hour day of hard farm work as easily as I could. Yet today I see countless 30-something men who are overweight, soft, and would likely expire at the thought of hard physical labor. What has happened to us?
We have forgotten the enjoyment of using our hands, the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from “doing it ourselves” and the security of self-sufficiency. We have forgotten that human beings are still needed for the most basic necessities of life—food still grows in the ground and must be harvested, fruits still needs to be picked from the tree, cloth is still manually fed into the sewing machine, and fossil fuels and natural resources are still wrenched from the earth— by hand.
Not having personal experience in the manual arts is one level of losing our humanity and threatens civilization—not remembering that someone is practicing the manual arts right now—is a much deeper and catastrophic failure.
We believe that every congressman, every police officer, every corporate CEO, every surgeon, every diplomat, every teacher, every real estate agent; every American citizen would make better decisions, have better morals, and lead happier lives if they were more engaged in the manual arts. In fact, we challenge our reads to do just that– find ways to more deeply engage in the manual arts.
The manual arts are a natural cure for egoism, self-deception, and obesity. The manual arts are an instinctive remedy for a troubled mind and eliminate the need for sleep aids. The manual arts will increase health, vitality, and improve your view of the world. The manual arts enhance our powers of observation and appreciation.
Many of the manual arts involve dirt or soil or being outside in the fresh air—it is spiritually grounding and emotionally balancing.
Some of the least stressed and happiest people I know are masters of the manual arts.
*At the peak of Roman culture there were seven slaves for every roman citizen. The Romans had for the most part completely shunned the manual arts, becoming increasingly dependent on slave labor and the importation of their food supply. We have reached a similar existence. We are becoming more and more dependent on exports and even the manual labor done in this country is emotionally and culturally relegated to a certain segment of our population.
** Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom
We have been saying for years that the day would come when the concepts and results of a liberal education would again be valued in politics, business, and society in general, that citizenship would enjoy a renewed position of importance in our nation, and that statesmen would rise up in our capitols to provide courageous leadership in the face of party politics—particularly one’s own party.
That period of history has just commenced.
We believe that when Senator Rand Paul stood on March 6 to filibuster the U.S. Senate John Brennan consent vote, and spent nearly 13 hours to call the executive branch of the United States government to account for its unclear policies regarding the use of unmanned drones in U.S. airspace, he unwittingly triggered a movement back to the principles and values upon which this nation was built.
Paul’s determination to personally take a stand against the executive branch—an act many in his own party have rebuked him for—shows the triumph of personal conviction over party hierarchy.
Much of his testimony and debate during this famous filibuster, detailed the convictions that all lawmakers should espouse: principles of sound government, accountability, the value of the rule of law, acknowledgement of Divinity, and the firm foundation and lessons from history.
Rand stated that he had not planned this filibuster in advance, so I think it is fair to surmise that the stream of support from both sides of the aisle was fairly spontaneous and genuine.
It shows that when someone leads out for truth and right, others will follow.
Not all Americans will instantly embrace these ideas and values—in fact, we predict that most Americans won’t—but we firmly believe that enough mothers and fathers will refocus the education of their children, that enough business leaders will reevaluate the purpose and methods of their businesses, and that enough political leaders will rise up as statesmen to lead the charge for liberty—to make a real difference.
This is why Monticello College exists, we are dedicated to cultivating an education and environment that foster public virtue, induce moral character, and emulate the courage and foresight of the American founding period, preparing our graduates to guard the principles of liberty.
It will take time to clearly discern the impact of this event.
But we predict that Pandora’s box has been opened and more and more Americans will look to Paul’s example and begin to take such measures in their own lives, which will undoubtedly lead to an increased interest in the founding principles, that have set America and the United States as a light on a hill.
P.S. I challenge you to watch all 12.5 hours of the filibuster (C-Span or youtube) as a show of solidarity for his act and as a means of responsible citizenship. We did at Monticello College.
To wrap up this series, let’s rely on history to show us a way out of Bondage. As was mentioned in part two, we not only rely on the 250-year society oriented Tytler Cycle to show us the way, but the more personal 80-100-year Century Cycle or Saeculum.
This last post is dedicated to the fourth and first turnings/seasons of the Century Cycle as described in chapter seven of our book, A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens. What follows is that chapter in its entirety.
History runs in cycles, and there is a pattern of four seasons repeated over and over, each about 20-25 years long. Like the seasons of the year, they come naturally and each feels different. These four seasons are called “turnings,” like turnings on a cycle, by authors Strauss and Howe in their book The Fourth Turning. The four seasons are:
1st: Founding. New institutions are built up to progress after the last crisis, like the United Nations, Social Security, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), NATO, and other organizations being created right after the Great Depression and World War II. Lots of businesses flourished in this period also.
2nd: Awakening. Youth grow up and challenge the old establishments, like the 1960s counter-culture movement at Woodstock, the Civil Rights movement led by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, and strong pushes for Feminism and Environmentalism, etc.
3rd: Unraveling. Two big viewpoints and political parties fight for power, and everything seems like it will come apart. Economies boom. The last unraveling happened between 1984 and 2001, and the one before that in the “Roaring 1920s.”
4th: Crisis. Big problems come. Actually, crisis seasons usually consist of three crises in a row, sometimes overlapped. First is the wake-up crisis that shocks everyone, like the Boston Tea Party, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the 1929 stock market crash, which started the Great Depression. In recent times, it appears that 9/11 was such an event.
Second comes a major economic crises, and then, third, usually a major war, pandemic or a mixture of these all at the same time. The last several crisis seasons include The Revolutionary War and Depression, The Civil War and Depression, and the Great Depression and World War II. Sounds bad, huh?
We live today in a crisis era, and you will grow up and start your life, family and career in a Crisis or Founding season. The good news is that a Crisis Season is always followed by another Founding, just like winter always ends with spring!
The bad news, which is also the biggest challenge in all of this, is that when the Crisis comes almost everyone over thirty years of age is totally immersed in the rules of the last phase.
This means that even though the economic boom times and long periods of peace are over, most people keep making choices that reflect what worked before.
They make a lot of bad choices, because they don’t realize that the rules have changed.
For example, parents educated in 2nd or 3rd seasons often think that their kids should see education as job training. For 4th and 1st seasons, however, that is a big mistake.
Teens need to be prepared for entrepreneurship and initiative much more than specific job skills. There are many other differences between seasons.
Here are the leading rules of success in each turning. In each season, success is found in:
2nd and 3rd: Big Institutions, Professional Careers, Investment, Credentials and Resume, Leisure and Entertainment.
4th and 1st: Family and Community Relationships, Entrepreneurial Ability, Initiative and Leadership Skills.
The way to fail in 4th and 1st seasons is to try to live in the rules of the previous seasons. The way to succeed is to engage the new reality.
As teens, you may need to help your parents and grandparents with this!
Those who will thrive in times of recession, depression, slow growth economies, even war and other major crises, are the ones who focus on home, community and entrepreneurship.
Again, the problem is that older generations define success the old way: a good major in college, good career, fun entertainment almost every evening, a really nice house, several new cars, and good retirement. They also want the same for their kids. This is a 3rd Season view. It will be available again, if the cycles hold true (as they have for over 3,000 years) somewhere around the years 2070-2080.
The generation before them saw success as: public schools as central to the community, a stable job at one company for life, husbands supporting families with wife staying home, savings in the bank and home ownership as the best investments. This is a 2nd Season view, and it will come back again somewhere around the years 2045-2055.
As for real life from now through the 2020s, 2030s, 2040s and maybe into the 2050s, it is time to get real! Success now and for most of your life will be determined according to the rules of 4th and 1st Seasons. The new economy is here, and the new realities with it. These new realities need all your idealism and enthusiasm, but they can’t and won’t be like the past, which too many adults are just pining for. Those days are gone.
Another key of leadership is to focus on what’s next, not on the past or even the challenges of now. Overcoming current challenges is important, but the focus should be on what’s ahead. Those who thrive from now to 2029 will be the ones who focus on and embrace the rules of the coming 1st Season ahead!
Be one of those who thrives, and help others do the same!
Because of the cycles and seasons, some of the most important classics to study as a teen are those written during 4th and 1st Seasons, or by authors who lived through them. One of the best of these, with a focus on family and entrepreneurship, is Our Home by C.E. Sargent.
Sargent lived through the 4th season of the Civil War period, and built his career and family in the 1st season which followed. His book is one of the Great 100 Teen Classics listed in chapter two.
Following are fourteen “rules” for financial success, family leadership and overall happiness in 4th and 1st seasons, as taught by C.E. Sargent. We have added a lot of commentary to these, geared specifically for our time. Still, all fourteen of these guidelines apply to any 4th and 1st season period in history. These are so much more helpful than many of the things suggested today for success by 2nd and 3rd season experts.
Fourteen Rules for Success Over the Next 50 Years
First, embrace the new. And the now. Forget 3rd season goals. They are gone, over, done, and it is time to move on. As a teen, you may not have gotten caught up in a lot of 3rd season planning, but if you did it is time to embrace something else.
Those who pine away for the old will not succeed, nor will those who wait around for the old days to come back. Forget the old measures and methods of success, and get excited about the new opportunities!
Second, spend evenings and Sundays with family. This principle is so simple, and yet so powerful.
People bond naturally in the evening, and in our modern world the best entertainment is family time.
So much in financial and career success in 4th and 1st seasons depends on family support and relationships, and close bonding is vital.
Such bonds also build a closer community around the family, and this is also needed for financial and social success in this season.
Where Shanon lives, (it is kind of a time warp) they still live this way for the most part. It has just begun breaking down over the past 5 years, (they are about 20 years behind the times) but for the most part, families there are very tight. You can always see them taking walks as family groups almost every night.
The community does a ton of things together: baseball, community festivals and parades, local fund-raisers and neighborhood parties etc. This community will do much better than others in the future as they already know each other very well and are comfortable with focusing heavily on the family and community. Tough times are easier for them because they already know how to work together.
Shanon remembers when he first moved there, it snowed about 3 feet in 2 days. Before city employees could begin the process of removing snow, family members had already dug out the widows and elderly of their families. It was inspiring to see how everyone just pitched in and helped.
Third, strengthen your self-culture. In 2nd and 3rd seasons, much of life is built around popular culture, fitting in, looking “right” to others. In contrast, in our time happiness is much more important than impressing anyone. Figure out what makes you happy, and live it!
Fourth, clearly articulate and write out your individual rules for life. Plan them. Live them. Leaders are needed, not conformists.
Your family, community and those around you need you to know who you are, what you stand for, and for you to truly stand for something.
Of course, true leadership and excellent rules include conformity to core morals and goodness. Decide what is most important to you, who you really are, and be it!
Fifth, instead of raising children, the focus of families will be on raising adults! This means that the teen years won’t be seen as times of all fun and games, but rather teens will be considered young adults who are needed to help the family succeed.
In addition to their education, they will help the family flourish by doing a lot more work than the last three generations of teens.
Also, the educational focus will be less on training accountants, attorneys or engineers and more on preparing youth to become good parents and wise citizens.
Indeed, in 4th and 1st seasons we need 18-year-olds who can go to war, lead communities, start businesses, etc.
Some might see this as a loss of youth, but that is just old seasons thinking. In truth, teens flourish in 4th and 1st seasons because they are given opportunities for leadership and responsibility.
Sixth, make Meaning a central focus of your learning, conversations and thinking. In 2nd and 3rd seasons the emphasis is often on prosperity and getting ahead. In current times the national emphasis shifts to things that really matter.
Tests, trials and struggles bring important lessons, and the opportunity to consider what is truly important and what isn’t. Look for meaning in everything, and you’ll often find it. Learn to be grateful, to see the “silver lining” in challenges, to learn from mistakes, and to get up whenever you fall down and just keep trying.
The 4th and 1st seasons are great times to turn to great classics and learn the best lessons of the past.
Seventh, spend a lot of time serving widows, orphans, grandparents, the elderly, the sick, and any who are down or struggling. These should be the focus of much family time.
In 2nd and 3rd seasons these are simply service projects, but in 4th and 1st seasons they become true community—much more than an after-work project once in a while. Make this one thing a priority in the 4th and 1st seasons, and you will find happiness and thrive in other ways too.
Boredom is a 2nd and 3rd seasons’ disease. Bored? Go serve. Make service the default. If you have nothing else to do, serve. By the way, doing something that seemingly blesses only you is doing something worthwhile.
But if you are just looking for entertainment all the time, start looking for things to do that help other people. Sometimes the best service (and most entertaining activity) is spontaneous service.
If there aren’t enough projects already organized by others, organize some yourself or with a group of friends. Don’t wait on this one—get started right away.
Eighth, make marriage the central focus of your life. Even as a teen, preparing to be a great wife or husband is a vital project. Note that the focus usually changes with the seasons:
2nd: Job over Parenthood
3rd: Parent over Spouse
In 4th and 1st seasons families grow stronger, and a large part of this is that spouses really need each other and turn to each other for help. This blesses all levels of family. Unfortunately, a shift to such times often starts with a lot of marriage struggles—unless people understand and apply these fourteen principles and other guidelines of good relationships.
Teens and other singles often do this focus on marriage better than married people, because they think in terms of romance, dates, etc. rather than children or career as top priority. In their search for a spouse, they put marriage first.
The key is to maintain this after marriage. This doesn’t decrease the value of parenting, but in fact increases it. Truly happy parents do the best parenting.
Ninth, get a true leadership education, what you might call an Impact Education. Consider the varying focus of education in different seasons:
2nd: Job Training
3rd: Career Training
4th: Impact Education
1st: Leadership Education
Leadership Education includes the skills of initiative plus ingenuity, tenacity, quality, creativity, persuasiveness, etc. Nothing teaches this as effectively as classics, mentors, simulations and the seven keys covered in earlier chapters. Indeed, Leadership Education was specifically designed to prepare people for success in challenging times.
Tenth, engage entrepreneurship. This is a must for almost everyone in 4th and 1st seasons. Even those with stable jobs, which are much fewer in these seasons, seldom have the opportunity for spouses to have a job too or to get extra money through overtime or extra jobs. Spouses or teens help support the family through entrepreneurship. The majority of people will have to be entrepreneurs to make a living.
Note that different generations have very different views about entrepreneurial ventures. Here is what being an entrepreneur means to most people in the different seasons:
2nd: “You can’t get a real job!”
3rd: “Build a business and sell it, retire young.”
4th: “Entrepreneur to survive, until the economy is better.”
1st: “Build a business, do it right, take it big!”
The key is to adopt the 1st season view, no matter when you are entrepreneuring. It is the only one that really works. In a 4th or 1st season, it is vital to adopt this mindset for your career whatever it is—even if you have a stable job (only employees with this view will keep the company stable).
In 4th and 1st seasons, entrepreneurship is the key to survival and also success. It requires all the skills and knowledge that naturally come from a good leadership education. The best place to start as a teen is the great reading list in chapter two of this book!
Eleventh, produce wealth. Seriously, there is no time to create and build wealth like 4th and 1st seasons (this is easiest in 3rd seasons, but much of the wealth created then is lost as quickly as it is gained; besides, the next 3rd season will likely come in about the year 2070).
It may seem strange to emphasize producing wealth in times of recession, depression, war and challenge, but that is exactly the best time.
This is not to say that you should put greed first, but rather that in such times a focus on entrepreneurial building is exactly what your family, the community, the society and the nation need most!
In 4th and 1st seasons, building businesses is among the most charitable and patriotic things you can do for the society.
People desperately need jobs and nations desperately need successful businesses.
More than anything, the world needs the leadership education that you can only gain by building something! The classics are a great start, but once you leave the classroom the best leadership education is found in building organizations and making them work!
This is called being a producer, not just a consumer, or dependant or victim. Author Dennis R. Deaton calls this having an “Ownership Spirit.” He writes in his book by that title: “When we think in owner terms, we live independent of circumstances. The ups and downs of the day don’t define who we are, our mood, demeanor, or commitment.
When something goes awry, owners can be disappointed and frustrated, but they don’t find someone to blame or resent, as Victims often do. Owners tend to focus their thinking on what to do—what options they have and what courses of action to pursue . . . . When people treat them rudely, owners seldom take offense.
They could, of course, but they see that as a waste of time and energy . . . . Owners understand that life is not easy, and they don’t expect it to be.”
In addition to this vital mindset, society needs rich people more than ever in 4th and 1st seasons, and people who are creating riches. Society needs you to be a producer, or owner.
Of course, the popularity for creating wealth is different in each of the seasons:
2nd: Savings and security for the family (from a steady job and bank savings accounts)
3rd: Money to retire young and relax (from entrepreneurship and/or investing)
4th: To help the needy, by giving them jobs and where needed charity (by building and growing a successful business)
1st: To build society, including the needed new institutions of strength after the crisis season (by building and growing businesses)
Twelfth, develop your creativity and inventiveness. This is needed so much in 4th and 1st seasons! Creativity is needed to find ways to be more frugal, individually and as a society; and also in producing things, money, jobs, wealth, philanthropy, etc.
Creativity and inventiveness are needed in finding ways to give yourself and others needs, wants and luxuries. They are necessary to fix society’s problems and take advantage of its opportunities.
Times of challenge are always the seasons of greatest opportunity, and success in such opportunities depends on your creativity! Leadership education in the classics and using the seven keys is the best way to start a truly creative education, and add to this with your own initiative and the guidance of parents and mentors.
Thirteenth, dig deep and find your inner resiliency. Whatever happens, success goes to those who keep trying and never give up.
After one great crisis season, Winston Churchill taught that the key to success is never to give up.
He also said that courage is the most important virtue because without it the others aren’t used.
Part of resiliency is to stay optimistic and enthusiastic in the face of whatever happens.
Life is hard, and in 4th and 1st seasons it is harder than in the others, but that just means that we have more opportunity than ever to really help improve the world. Very little progress or positive change occurs during 2nd or 3rd seasons, but in times like now much can change very quickly. Of course, the change depends on leadership, which is why leadership education in your youth is so vital.
Fourteenth, and finally, grow your ambition! You were born to do great things, so don’t settle for anything less. Ambition sometimes gets a bad name, but that is mainly because it means different things in each of the seasons:
2nd: Personal Status
3rd: Personal wealth
4th: Making Sure the Right Side Wins
1st: Making Sure the Right Changes Happen
As you can see, even if great ambition were negative during 2nd or 3rd seasons, it is all-positive during 4th and 1st seasons. For example, the American founding ambition to make sure the Colonies beat Britain is a great thing. Likewise the Northern ambition to end slavery in the Civil War and the Allied ambition to stop Hitler in World War II. Thank goodness for such high ambitions!
But the truly great ambitions came after these conflicts, in 1st seasons where the people set out to improve the world. Some of the changes were good, while others were bad. The difference was the quality of the leadership, based on the education of that generation’s leaders while they were in their youth.
In your generation, the world cries out for great change. So much needs to be fixed. So many things in this world today need to be improved.
Your generation can do it. But like past generations, it will depend on the leadership of the next fifty years. And that will depend in large part on the education you and your generational peers get in the next five to ten years. Will you follow old thinking of 3rd seasons and focus on career training? Will you accept mediocrity? If so, the future of freedom and prosperity will not be an improvement on what you inherited.
If not, you need to learn right now, in your youth, what the new 4th and 1st seasons rules are and become a master at them. Lead out in the new way of dealing with and solving challenges and crises and improving the world.
What will be your mark on the world—improvement or further decline? It depends in large part on your teen and college education. It is up to you, and to others your age.
It is time for a generation to change the world, to drastically improve it. We believe it will be your generation that does it. Are we right?
We started this book by promising to tell it to you straight, to tell you the real deal. We have done that.
The future depends on you.
It doesn’t get deeper or more real than that.
We also started with the thought that when God or the Universe wants to change the world, he sends a baby—perfectly timed to grow, learn, prepare and then take action at the right time.
But there are times when one baby won’t suffice, when the challenges facing the world are just too great, and so instead of a great reformer or a few key thinkers what is needed is a whole generation of leaders.
This happened in the Sixth Century B.C., and in the first decade of the Common Era, then again in the American Founding generation. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and so many more were part of this generation. In their youth, they worked to learn and get a great leadership education. Then, when the world needed them, they were ready.
It is happening again today. You are such a generation. But will you succeed? That remains to be seen. One thing is certain: to do so, you will need a superb, leadership, Thomas Jefferson-like, education. In five years, you will either have such an education . . . or not. The ones who do will lead. Our challenge to you is to be one of them!
It is who you were born to be, it is the real, genuine you. The world needs you.
And so it begins…
Of the almost 127 million voters, a majority preferred a governing system that favors high taxes, a saturated welfare system, forced health care, and an abundance of government dependent workers.
Apparently we have learned nothing from the real-time occurrences in Europe, most recently in Greece.
As Oliver DeMille put it in a recent article, “Make no mistake. Whatever the pundits say, we fell off the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013.
‘Until House Republicans stand up and simply say “no” to the Obama super-spending agenda, the Spendocracy will grow and a depression is looming.
Indeed, conspiracy theories aside, those who want government to grow are actually benefited by recession and depression because they gain even more demand for increased government involvement.”
There is no turning back; in fact, according to a recent Forbes article titled “Do You Live In A Death Spiral State?”,this government growth and spending frenzy is not just a national government phenomena; the state and municipal governments are joining the party as fast as they can.
Face it, with more than 20% of the states already upside down, this is our new reality; and the sooner we warm up to it and adjust our thinking, the better for us in the long term.
Quoting from the Forbes article:
Don’t buy a house in a state where private sector workers are outnumbered by folks dependent on government.
Thinking about buying a house? Or a municipal bond? Be careful where you put your capital. Don’t put it in a state at high risk of a fiscal tailspin.
They can look forward to a rising tax burden, deteriorating state finances and an exodus of employers.
If your career takes you to Los Angeles or Chicago, don’t buy a house. Rent.
If you have money in municipal bonds, clean up the portfolio.
Sell holdings from the sick states and reinvest where you’re less likely to get clipped. Nebraska and Virginia are unlikely to give their bondholders a Greek haircut.
California and New York are comparatively risky.
Two factors determine whether a state makes this elite list of fiscal hellholes. The first is whether it has more takers than makers. A taker is someone who draws money from the government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector.
Let us give those takers the benefit of our sympathy and assume that every single one of them is a deserving soul. This person is either genuinely needy or a dedicated public servant or the recipient of a well-earned pension.
Taxes get too high.
Prosperous citizens decamp. Employers decamp. That just makes matters worse for the taxpayers left behind.
Let’s say you are a software entrepreneur with 100 on your payroll.
If you stay in San Francisco, your crew will support 139 takers. In Texas, they would support only 82. Austin looks very attractive.
Ranked on the taker/maker ratio, our 11 death spiral states range from New Mexico, with 1.53 takers for every maker, down to Ohio, with a 1to1 ratio.
The taker count is the number of state and local government workers plus the number of people on Medicaid plus 1 for each $100,000 of unfunded pension liabilities.
(Sources: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and a study of state worker pensions done in 2009 by two academics, Joshua Rauh and Rovert NovyMarx. Professor Rauh estimates that the shortage in pension funding is on average a third higher today.)
Conning’s analysis focuses more on dollars than body counts. Its formula downgrades states for large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment.
Conning rates North Dakota the safest state to lend money to, Connecticut the most hazardous. A state qualifies for the Forbes death spiral list if its taker/maker ratio exceeds 1.0 and it resides in the bottom half of Conning’s ranking.
A final word.
Ideas have consequences, and the consequences of the ideas that are shaping our fast approaching fiscal reality could not be any more obvious. Sure, go ahead, hope and pray that a miracle will occur or that government will come to its senses and stop all new spending and cut deeply into current spending (yes, that means real budget cuts such as reducing or stopping all non-vital services, no new construction projects, and pay raises).
And while you are waiting for that miracle or change of heart, you might consider entertaining the same steps that we have been suggesting for at least two years:
1. Read at least one of the depression books listed below within the next 30 days (no really, just do it).
2. Re-evaluate your current economic and family situation and make hard choices to re-position with a better strategy (down-size, more family time, grow a family or community garden, food storage instead of family vacation).
3. Get as liquid as possible and out of debt as soon as possible. Fire sale opportunities will be on the rise over the next 5-10 years.
4. Start a mini-factory (develop multiple streams of income – home-based business, a cottage industry, enhanced education to shift to more flexible income, parallel incomes, CSA, Network marketing business, etc.) and be as creative and optimistic as possible. These sentiments will soon be in short supply.
5. Create a culture and community of service
6. Create a family legacy. This means lay the groundwork for a multi-generational organization that unifies and protects your family — come what may (true happiness can only be found in family).
Take a look at this list of books to help adjust your thinking and position yourself to succeed during economic hard times at a level we have not experienced in our lifetime:
The Great Depression Ahead – Dent
America’s Great Depression – Rothbard
The Fourth Turning – Howe and Straus
The Third Wave – Toffler
5,000 Year Leap – Skousen
The Cube and the Cathedral – Wiegel
The Servile State – Belloc
A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens – DeMille/Brooks
P.S. Please be sure to do your own research. I am ok if you don’t believe me, but for heaven’s sake, do not believe those who are saying “don’t worry, things are just fine.” Get your own sense of truth by doing your own investigation.