What happened to the American Dream? Some people today, think the American Dream is dead. The American Dream was something older people have taken away. Something they hoard and refuse to share. Something that can be looked at, but never be a part of.
For all our access to information, young people miss the big picture. With constant access to information, little time seems to be spent reading about how many millionaires and billionaires were self made. Each and every American Dream is earned, not awarded. Generational money does not last long.
If one is ever lucky enough to observe a CEO in action, watching them is really something to see. Most start on their future before entering their teens. They read, study, and create. Some have a real business while in their teens. I like to think one young boy I mentored is going to be among the group who achieves his American Dream.
The boy was nine years old when I was to be his mentor. It was the beginning of October and the weather was turning cool. He lived with his Mother, and if he knew his Father, he never mentioned him. The first few weeks I spent with him, I wondered how a young boy coming from a poor background with so much against him, would ever manage to break out of poverty and a hard life.
Then came Halloween and my perception of him changed almost overnight. Like every kid who’s candy supply is limited by lack of funds and a candy store, he was out tricker-treating with the best of them. He told me he had about three-fourths of bag of candy for his effort.
He also told me he only ate a few pieces himself. He knew all the other kids he knew and could imagine, ate their candy as fast as they could. By the end of the week, all the kids would have a dim memory of Halloween candy or any candy. His candy was hidden away in his room.
The next week, he told me something astounding. He was selling his candy to the kids in his school! He sold the penny candy for five cents; the other candies sold for ten cents to a quarter depending on the candy. The few candy bars he had, he sold for a dollar each.
I was impressed and thought he would spend his money on a bicycle, electronic game (if he even had a game counsel), or something else he wanted. When I asked him what he was going to do with his money, to say I was surprised was putting it mildly. He told me he had bought packets of beer salt, lime flavored, a box of packets. The price worked out to about three cents a lime salt package. To say the least, I could not imagine why he wanted lime salt packets. I was thinking about all the things he could buy.
Then he told me he was selling the lime packets at his school for a quarter a piece. Sales at a quarter a piece were a little slow, so he was thinking of maybe selling them for twenty cents, and was willing to go down to fifteen cents as his schoolmates access to money was limited.
He went along for a number of weeks, until a student turned him in. He told me many of the kids were angry he got busted, as he was their goodies supplier. He tried to be sneakier, but was found out again. He changed his selling hours to before and after school.
I have no doubt that this little boy is a prosperous man now that he is grown, and probably has kids of his own. Which brings me back to being able to observe a CEO. I was fortunate enough to work for a Fortune 100 company. I never had the opportunity to observe a CEO, but we knew about him. His office was no bigger than the other offices in the building he worked out of. If you didn’t know who he was, you would think he was one of many office workers.
I was fortunate enough to see our plant manager in action however, or at least the hours he worked. He did not work as part of the company, as far as he was concerned he was in charge of the company, or so it appeared. When I worked afternoons and evenings, it was not unusual to see him at eight or nine o’clock in the evening, touring his little empire, observing and talking to low level employees.
When I went to day shift, he was onsite and wandering around at six o’clock in the morning, before most employees were even on site. When I came in on my days off, he was there. Seven days a week, sometime sixteen hours a day, this man was working. Not many people have that kind of drive, even though the payoff is huge, if money is your motivator.
He was probably worth several millions of dollars. He could do anything he wanted to do, yet he chose to spend his life working and growing his little section of a big company empire. Work was his life, there were days when I thought he would work for free. Then he hit fifty, retired and dipped his toes into a world he knew little of, everyday life. His kids were going to college, and he was just starting to be a family man.
The American Dream killer is – few people are willing to make the sacrifice and put in the work. It is easier to believe the dream is dead. There is face saving in believing the American Dream is dead. Blame society because one lacks the initiative to work harder than others for a greater reward. Blame the rich, though many of the rich started with little, and created their own slice of the American Dream.
Looking at most of the wealthiest people alive today, and for the last hundred years, many share one common trait. They had a lucky break, but they worked harder and longer than anyone they knew to be successful. The American Dream is out there for everyone. All anyone has to do is want it, work for it, and dream it – to the extreme. What is your Dream and how does it compare to those who made theirs a reality?