Good article Chis and you make a lot of very strong points, but I have to disagree with your opening few paragraphs. I have encountered a lot of people, in Britain, over in the USA and in the European nations I’ve worked and done business in who want nothing more than to live a small, quiet, unremarkable life. They do not challenge themselves or embrace change, they cling to what is familiar, falsely assuming it is also what is safe.
I understand that those people are not the kind you are aiming your article at, but I think it’s important, particularly at a time when there is a revival of enthusiasm for the failed ideals of socialism and we have people like AOC and Jeremy Corbyn talking about making everybody equal (and actually being listened to by a significant portion of the population, to understand we are not all equal, we are all born with potential to succeed at something, but not to succeed in the same way.
There’s an old saying in the literary world, “poetica nascitur, non fit,” — poets are born, not made,” and that’s also true of many other fields of human endeavour, there are born leaders, born athletes, musicians, artists, doctors etc. but while the poet or whatever is born, the person with the drive to get to the top, to stand out, is made. And in the making of the person, being in the right place at the right time often plays a very big role.
Speaking for myself, something either went very wrong (or perhaps very right) in the making of me as I have twice walked away from the opportunity to become seriously rich because I was not prepared to sell my soul to a business or corporation. I’m not complaining, the decisions I made were the right ones for me and as well as doing OK financially I had a lot of fun.
I’ve often had doubts about the American dream, do all Americans have the same dream? I think not though I do remember a line in a play I saw or a book I once read, a reference to “America’s love affair with the bitch goddess success.” The bitch goddess was used by F Scott Fitzgerald and D H Lawrence but I’ve never been able to find who added the love affair bit. When we read social histories of the USA the line does seem to be true, but in a nation with a large population experience tells me that the majority of people will be followers, rather than leaders, consumers rather than creators in other words people who are content to lead small lives.
And let’s not disparage them for that, if everybody stood out, outstanding would be ordinary wouldn’t it?