I had the delusion of youthful optimism when I stepped off that plane in Los Angeles in 1984. I didn’t know the hero’s journey I was about to embark upon.
I had no idea what lay in front of me – but I had already seen hell and I could only smell the scent of heaven in front of me. Despite the disappointment of seeing desert grass – brown, drying, dying, and decaying in between the landing strips – I felt that this was my hero’s journey and that I was going to make it.
Like many other immigrants, I had made a pact in my silent moments that I was willing to put up with anything in order to ‘make it’ – to pursue my happiness.
This to me is what America is about – a constitution and structure that allows for the creation of heroes. Of course, heroes occur in other countries, but nowhere is it so symbolized, mythologized, and made concrete.
I am not an apologist for America, but a stalwart supporter for choice and independent thinking – creativity, innovation, depth, and heroism are what make my life worth living. To me, that represents a true American.
Each of us has a destiny mapped out perhaps by our genetics and partly by the wirings of our brain. Perhaps we either honor this destiny by reflecting and acting on it – or we avoid it with quick answers, oversimplifications, distractions, and addictions to pleasure.
The hero’s journey is one where there is the inevitable struggle against inner demons – greed, ego, distractions, impulses, procrastination, fear, guilt, righteousness, laziness… the list can go on.
There is a choice in every moment of this journey – either long-term suffering (with short bouts of distraction) or long-term joy and bliss (with short bouts of painful and challenging suffering).
In every true hero’s journey, there are times when the hero engages in both alternatives – long-term suffering (avoidance of heroism) and long-term joy (embracing heroism and the pain that goes along with that).
A true hero does not make either choice wrong – this results from the direct experience and reflection on the struggles associated with being a hero.
We have in this country, the structure to make any of us a hero in our own right, in our own style and our self-expression. That structure is the Constitution.
But it all began with the declaration – written by a small, loose group of individuals who deigned to think differently –with reasons ranging from the egotistical through reverence for what is sacred – their word (promise).
Their reasons did not matter in the end – for they kept their spoken word – their mission. They honored something higher in themselves and in doing so, created an outstanding example for all of us.
We are all products of that mission declared more than 200 years ago.
On this July Fourth Week, I ask you regardless of your nationality – to reflect on your mission statement – what are you willing to put at stake to create a legacy – something that leaves you satisfied, whole, and complete. Of course, you can choose not to – that is the mark of a hero as well.
Since 1991, I’ve been reflecting on, designing, and implementing methodologies and systems for bringing a transcendent, creative and innovative approach to critical aspects of entrepreneurship.