I believe there is a direct correlation between success at home and our success as a country. If Americans are successful as both individuals and a families, and are left to focus on our personal growth, financial success, and a rewarding future, then the citizens of America can once again provide inspiration to their peers, and to people across the globe.
As America's financial condition deteriorates, our fellow citizens continue to look to others for answers. They've looked to the heads of the the failed companies to place blame - and to the leadership in our government for help - when in fact many should look no further than their mirror. While the failed companies aren't innocent, it is the people of this country that have driven it to the brink.
It is normal in the American culture to want things we cannot afford, and buy them anyway. It is the task of creatives everywhere to ensure we're bombarded with messages telling us how cool we would be if we'd drive their $40,000 car, or how sexy we can be, if only we'd buy their products. It is also normal in this country to fail financially because we lack the ability to believe in one simple, two letter word. "No."
As a society we simply cannot say "No." No to the "90 days same as cash." No to the "No interest until 2011!" No to the new cars - any new car. No to the oversized home. No to the sub-prime mortgages that allow us to buy the dream home - whose mortgages will eventually adjust, forcing foreclosure - wrecking dreams and putting an unfair burden on the family. No to 500 calorie, $5 dessert drinks.
If only you'd said that one simple word. "No."
There are a few that understand the power of the word "no." It is these people, the weird ones, the ones that drive the neighborhood beater, the ones that buy below their means... it is these people that are my inspiration. It is these people that understand that happiness has nothing to do with how many zeros are in your bank account, or how big your house and TV are. It is these people that understand what success is, and how it relates to overall happiness.
To me, success is being able to wake up, morning after morning, knowing that your family has the means necessary to live a safe and comfortable life. Success is knowing that my son will never want for anything, and will know how to handle himself financially once he leaves the house. Success is seeing smiling faces, everywhere. Success is not worrying about money, or the economy, or making your payments. It doesn't take money to be successful, it just takes desire and discipline.
I believe that the our most precious resource is within. I believe that in the best way to positively affect your neighbor, to help your neighbor, is to set an example. Set an example so easy to follow that your neighbors will in turn pass it on. Live a simple, honest life. Fill it with people that bring you inspiration, and fill it with only the things you need. Over time, they can become nicer things, but for now simplify.
Imagine what we'd be capable of as a country if we'd stop the incessant berating of each other's beliefs (religious, political, and sexual). Imagine if we'd just turn off traditional media and agree to focus on our own lives for a change. Focus on the things closest to us, the things that need our attention - to change the things we can.
Think about what you can do as an individual to make your life better. Make your life the life of dreams, and that will improve your outlook, relationships, and family. And your neighbors', and theirs. Then one day, we might just come together as a country. A unified country filled with inspiration, creativity, and a true desire to make the world a better place.
Be weird. Say "No!" today. Sell your car. Pay off your debts. Eat responsibly. But most of all, inspire someone. Inspire yourself, and fix your mess.
Because our President, no matter who it is, cannot fix your mess. Only you can fix your mess.