Friday, 16 July 2010
The perception that achievement should be either immediate or impossible is wrong. Important things frequently demand substantial time, as it is the case of relationships. It makes no sense to put pressure on the wrong places. Some things take as long as they take. The process of reaching our goals is to be enjoyed, not frivolously discarded as a waste of time.
As they say in my home village, "you'd better bake potatoes slowly if you don't want to burn them." Substantial skills, like learning a foreign language, require months or years of effort. In life, you have plenty of time to find your own way. If you think that this is not the case, check your priorities and simplify your activities.
"Some talents are innate and others are acquired through practice," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 B.C. "While the movement of animals is governed by the law of cause and effect, the essential characteristic of human beings, reason, can only be developed by choice."
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 to 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. Upward social mobility became possible to an important segment of the population in the time of the great Renaissance artists, such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.
In our days, despite problems and difficulties, opportunities for personal development have multiplied in many countries to the extent that they are practically endless, making easier for every individual to explore the fields in which he is interested and find his own path.
Millions of men and women are now enjoying levels of prosperity that would have been unthinkable for the wealthiest prince in the Middle Ages. The advent of the internet and the global economy are tearing down barriers to entrepreneurship. We are living at the beginning of a new period of economic growth that may offer countless opportunities for each person to determine his own future.
The 21st century is the age of the empowered individual. We inhabit an environment where many businesses can be started with negligible upfront investment. Innumerable doors are open to personal initiative and skills, giving each of us almost infinite opportunities to find our own way towards happiness and success.
Business has become international, but the low-cost of internet communication gives us instant access to all corners of the earth. If you feel short-changed in any way, make a pause and look at things with perspective. If you are lucky enough to live in an industrial economy, you will not lack chances for personal development.
In moments of pessimism, remind yourself that the digital media are decreasing educational costs for everyone, that information about job openings is available on line, that inexpensive software applications are readily available, and that the cost of incorporating a company remains low in many jurisdictions. Chances are that you have more opportunities than you think.
"Materials and substances are not enough to produce change," observed Aristotle. "The fact that something can be transformed, does not mean that it will. Without activity, there is no motion." Let us devote our days to turning what we have into something more valuable. Let your willingness to perceive opportunities turn yourself into a motor of change.
If you still hesitate which way to go, why don't you get in touch with people who have similar interests and who are pondering the same questions? The easiest way to do that is to start up an internet blog on the subject that interests you the most.
A blog is deeply marked by the personality and philosophy of its author. One hundred million people go daily on-line and, in the near future, the number might grow to five hundred million. Many of them would gladly read more blogs if they found something that really appealed to them.
Use the internet fully to find your own way in life, since the web is offering you access to the whole world. This is the kind of opportunity that no other generation has enjoyed before our time.
If you decide to begin a blog, write about what you like and let people with the same interests find you. It is often through discussion with people like us that we come to realize that we already know the answer to our most pressing questions.
[Image by Schristia under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]