Educators, Mentors & Entrepreneurs
If you’ve been trying to access my board the last two days then you’ve probably noticed that it is out of action. I tried to resuscitate it; Tech Support tried to resuscitate it; and now we are on Plan C. Not sure if it will be back any time soon. If it completely gives up the ghost then I’ll shop around for something more stable and get it up during the summer. So there could be a few weeks without a daily fix on the board – probably a good thing for you, me and our employers.
This topic has been kicking around in my head for the last two years. After my time in Asia, it became clear to me that everyone in the developed world has won the global lottery. Within these half a billion lottery winners, there are probably a half a million that won a further lottery. Lightning striking twice.
** Born in the Developed World;
** Well dressed;
** Pleasant to look at;
** Sound of body; and
** Calm of mind.
If you have a background in social psychology or if you’ve read Cialdini’s book then you’ll see that the more boxes that you can tick off above, the greater your powers of persuasion over the world around you – in other words, the greater your ability to create your own reality.
It may not be convenient. It may not be fair. But there is a fair amount of research pointing that direction.
Why’s that important to recognize?
For me, it was important to recognize just how far the deck is stacked in my favour. Most of the people that I know that can tick-the-boxes above are pretty happy people. Why wouldn’t they be? Life’s been stacked in their favour pretty much from the get go. With that much of an edge, you’d have to actively work against yourself not to end up with a reasonable outcome. If you didn’t see it that way then (odds are) the persuaders of the modern consumption culture have moved your expectations out of whack. Dissatisfaction is largely driven by excessive “want” in our lives – whether want to become something other than what we are… or craving more and more possessions.
Back to my realization…
One of the most powerful things that you can instill in a person is hope. A little hope goes a long way – examples that I’ve come across over the last few years:
** Inner city youths risking their lives to earn minimum wage selling crack – hoping to make it big;
** The religious faith of millions of Filipinas working alone overseas to support a country that is prone to natural disasters and poor government;
** The large percentage of second- and third- tier elites in baseball, golf, triathlon and tennis. Not good enough to make a decent living but barely scraping by on the hope that they just might “get there”.
People will put up with a heck of a lot if they have hope. Likewise, revolutions happen once people have lost hope.
If you’ve been following the immigration debate in the US then this seems to be a consideration that you rarely hear mentioned. You could put the entire army on the Mexican border behind the Great Wall of America… if the people of Central and South America lose hope then what are you going to do when a few million vote with their feet (shoot them as per East Berlin?).
Hope, personal safety and successful economic management within Latin America are key issues to consider in formulating immigration strategy. Those are the factors that keep people at home. Personally, I get nervous when I see a peasant take over the presidency of a Latin American country. I fear for his country if he lacks the experience to sustain effective leadership.
Where am I heading with this?
Well, on the face of it, the ruling elite can appear to have the most to lose from “leveling the playing field” towards those at the lower end of a socioeconomic spectrum, the establishment often putting up the most resistance to change. However, elites always bear in mind that revolutions happen quite frequently throughout the world and if one wants to live atop a civil society, as opposed to an authoritarian society, then ceding on a few fronts could be in one’s long term interest. Besides, no matter how far you tilt things, the “lottery winners” have a structural and psychological edge.
The wisdom of the Champagne Socialists is becoming clearer to me.
Anyhow, at least in educational enrolment, that line of reasoning has led me to change my view in support of affirmative action. Once you are through the door, however, I don’t (yet?) see the need for double standards. Also, I wouldn’t compel privately funded educators to adjust their policies. I would seek to inform them on the diversity and social benefits to their institutions and communities, respectively
Off to meet KP for a coffee.
Part Two later.