A colleague of mine recently admitted she enjoyed (geeked out on) this YouTube video. Somewhat skeptical, I allowed myself to click through and… wow, these geniuses actually schooled me a bit in the “Dismal Science.” If you’re like me, the principles of macro economics (e.g., how our country continues to run in the “knowledge age”) has always been a bit mysterious. I recently read Freakonomics and Economics in One Lesson which both break down complex economics principles to an understandable level (to let me get caught up on what I should have learned in high school or college). But I like productions like this one to reinforce or fill in the gaps to help me understand the rise and fall of our economy.
In one of the best and most original TED talks I’ve seen in a while, Alain de Botton presents a compelling – and often humorous – analysis of how our definition of success can drive us to despondency. Some interesting tidbits from this talk:
- Our measures of personal success are typically based on our perception of how we stack up to others like me? I don’t compare myself with the Queen of England (and her wealth, lifestyle) because she’s too different from me.
- We’ve increasingly become a meritocracy in which failure is seen as a direct result of our own shortcomings (rather than accounting for random variables like illness or timing).
- The mainstream media compounds the problem with biographies of individuals like Bill Gates who are seemingly “average Joes” who simply applied themselves. If they can, why can’t I? [Note: Malcolm Galdwell’s recent book “Outliers” makes the opposite case: that many recent stories of outstanding success are having the right idea at the right time with the right opportunities.]
During his concluding remarks, Botton challenges the audience to examine how they measure success to see if their criteria are based on societal expectations and if they agree with those standards.
Does this make you rethink your personal definition of success?
You’ve reached the site for mrmerlot. Why merlot? You’ll have to subscribe to find out!
I created this site for a two main reasons:
- I needed a place to write about my technology opinions since these don’t fit on my personal (family) site.
- I wanted to claim the domain before anyone else did, since “mrmerlot” is the username I use on most social media web sites.
Stay tuned for my first rant…Wikipedia: Lord of the Flies.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering…yes, I will probably be posting more rants than raves. I’m cynical that way…