Guy Kawasaki suggests that startups ditch the mission statement and instead have a mantra, a phrase with three or four words. It’s purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists. A mantra creates a cohesive context for discussion, helps drive decision-making, and is a constant reminder of a shared goal.
The United States of America has a mantra, and it’s “The American Dream.” The definition of The American Dream has changed over time. It was initially about fleeing hierarchical or aristocratic societies. During the gold rush, it became about the potential for instant wealth. It’s since then been about home ownership and upward mobility. Most recently, it has been about equal opportunity and access to education and career.
It’s completely normal for the mantra to change over time; it should reflect the state of the world and the mind of the people in it. What’s important, however, is that the meaning of the mantra be discussed regularly. Without a shared vision, all debates will be inefficient and ineffective, laws put in place will be ephemeral, and dissatisfaction becomes inevitable.
Education isn’t producing the results it used to, so access to education clearly isn’t enough. Many are unemployed, and even those who have careers that can support their family are unhappy, either from work dissatisfaction or not having enough time to spend with family.
What is today’s American Dream?