We intuitively understand that we live in a society today where, more than ever before, everyone has the opportunity to be an innovator and a changemaker thanks to the marvels of technology and the interconnectedness it has brought us. That’s beautiful indeed. But this has come at a price, I would argue. Not all is well that seems well on the surface.
Consider that in the same world, in a given community, for every single person that takes the initiative to write a book, start a company, or build anything else of meaning and value, there are hundreds if not thousands of others who stand by, observe, nod in public approval… and then, upon returning home, lay privately tormented and desperate.
Tormented by what?
Before we get there, consider this scenario: one day, any day, you read the news and blogs of whatever domain you happen to be a passionate follower of and you find the headlines about someone’s amazing invention, discovery, accomplishment or celebrated success. On top of this, imagine that this person is just around your age, even from the same country, had the same major in college and worked in the same industry.
What is your very first reaction? Are you:
A) Excited about the invention?
B) Happy that things are going well with the world, after all?
C) Hoping you could meet this person one day?
Likely, my guess is you would circle D) None of the Above. What else then? No matter how accomplished, rich, successful and pedigreed you are, it is likely possible that you experience to some degree a feeling that we commonly refer to as “envy”. This, if not admitted honestly, can then lead to further feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and even anger. The complete package, in the worst case, results in torment and despair.
Today, I would like to think about why this is, what’s at stake for changing this, and why the key to this may be the little discussed but essential notion of “generosity of spirit”.