Centuries of decay followed the fall of the Roman Empire. For generations, fear replaced rational discourse as the primary means of human interaction. In many fields, knowledge remained inaccessible for the great majority of the population. As a result, life expectancy dramatically decreased.
Conditions improved in the 13th century. The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance opened a wide range of opportunities for talented individuals. Towns attracted tradesmen and merchants, who manufactured utensils, made clothes, and built houses. In Italian cities, like Florence and Venice, the wealth created by entrepreneurs brought into existence a market for artists.
During the lifetime of great Renaissance painters, such as Botticelli and Michelangelo, upward social mobility became possible, for the first time in History, to an important segment of the population. In our days, despite problems and difficulties, opportunities for personal advancement in many countries have multiplied to such an extent that are practically endless.
Millions of men and women are currently enjoying levels of prosperity that would have been unthinkable for the wealthiest Renaissance princes. The advent of the internet and the global economy are tearing down the remaining barriers to entrepreneurship. We are witnessing the beginning of a new period of compound economic growth.
The 21st century is the age of the empowered individual. We inhabit an environment where businesses can be started quickly and often with negligible upfront investment. Innumerable doors are open to personal initiative and skills, giving each of us almost infinite opportunities to succeed.
Competition has become international, but low communications costs give us instant access to all corners of the earth. If you ever feel short-changed in any way, take a pause and look at your situation with perspective. Those who are lucky enough to live in an industrial economy should not lack chances for personal development:
- Digital media are decreasing educational costs for everyone.
- Information about job openings is available on line.
- Inexpensive software applications are readily available for many business needs.
- The cost of incorporating a company remains low in many jurisdictions.
[Image by PhillipC under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]