I think I can! I think I can!
Most of us remember with warmness in our hearts that great parable of the little engine and its effort and determination in triumphing over obstacles and discouragement.
There is no greater feeling of reward than working diligently and seeing the results of your efforts and the efforts of those who helped you in your journey. Success instills a desire to work even harder.
Yet even in defeat there are great lessons learned. For many, defeat creates an optimism that gushes up from within as you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again by taking on the next challenge using the lessons you learned about what does not work.
Thomas Edison while attempting to invent the light bulb learned so much from each failure. He learned thousands of ways not to make a light bulb. His failures were successes in his mind. He learned what not to do.
Abraham Lincoln failed at a business and was defeated in numerous elections, yet his determination was ultimately rewarded. A Nation was saved and a people freed.
Think if Lincoln quit after his first failure. Think what might have happened to our Nation if Lincoln, early in his life, had been given a bailout to help his struggling business?
Until we learn that you cannot give someone hope, you cannot give someone determination, you cannot give someone happiness, we are doomed to create a nation of victims woefully dependent upon the next government program to bail itself out.
Our Congress recently passed a health care bill that "gives" insurance to all. Unfortunately without acknowledging the importance of personal responsibility in a health care system, the new program, so well intentioned, is doomed to failure.
The financial reform bill had so many laudable objectives yet the very people it was designed to protect will be hurt the most. True financial reform must provide for a system of justice in which both sides of a financial transaction are treated fairly. Financial reform must emphasize personal accountability to be ultimately successful.
In schools when everyone must pass, the value of passing is diluted. A student’s effort may be stymied because the passing is assured. Have we effectively taken away the "thrill of victory"?
A society that subsidizes bad behavior is doomed to get more of it.
"I think I can" is a story of hope. It was about working hard and the American dream to many. It is about parents’ efforts and determination to give our children a better future. It was never about a handout. It was never about a bailout. It was never about creating a victim mentality. It was about overcoming adversity through hard work and determination.
In the Marines, we have an event called the Crucible which is a final test of a Marine recruit in the passage to becoming a United States Marine. It is a grueling exercise. The pride of accomplishment radiates from the faces of those young warriors as they receive their Eagle, Globe and Anchor, our outward symbol of being a Marine. They have earned the title of United States Marine.
Our Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have similar training programs which likewise instill teamwork, cohesion, and determination. Nothing is given. Much is earned.
Our Founding Fathers provided in the Declaration of Independence that we have been endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
In providing a society for future generations and as we refine this great American experiment, we must remember that we have been endowed with the right to the pursuit of happiness. It is not a right to happiness but a right to the pursuit of happiness. These brilliant founders knew all so well that you cannot give someone happiness.
Happiness and hope come from the heart and the spirit. It comes from within.
Only by creating a framework of government that encourages responsibility, accountability and rewards hard work and determination will the real American dream ever come to pass.
I know we can! I know we can!
Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. Frank is a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan. He is on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at [email protected] THE CAMPAIGN!