This week I’m in the midst of many big and heady discussions about industries that demand rapid and radical transformation: healthcare, education, and the state of the planet for starters. We cannot close our eyes to the enormous problems we face as individuals and as a society. The good news is that we have everything we need to change our fortune—technology, know-how, and our imaginations. The trick is to find ways to unleash and connect them on a massive, actionable scale. And that scale lies within all of us building meaningful and impactful careers.
It’s easy to develop a solution that solves part of a problem. We’ll help some people and manage the costs with a relative degree of effectiveness. For a while, the band-aid will hold. We could almost fool ourselves into thinking this is okay, that it’s the best we can do with what we’ve got. Mediocrity is ours for the taking and my suggestion is to shun it with every ounce of strength we’ve got. We can and must do better starting now.
We could watch the news about California’s austerity measures in the face of the most horrible drought in its history and say, “That has nothing to do with me. I live thousands of miles away and I have plenty of water where I am.” The truth is that California is the canary in the coal mine.California will be everyone’s realty if we don’t take action to reverse course now. Think of all that’s been wasted there sustaining thirsty lawns in the middle of a desert for the sake of aesthetics. I actually feel a pain in my heart thinking about it. What have we done? What are we continuing to do by just going through the motions of life as usual? And if we think we have war now, imagine what will happen when we’re fighting over water rights that literally draw the line between life and death. Without water, debates about nukes are irrelevant.
These same kinds of scenarios are also true in education and healthcare. Our public education stats are appalling because we have failed to engage students and care for all of their needs from having enough food to eat to living in a safe neighborhood to nurturing their imaginations. We may be experiencing the rise of a lost generation of talent and potential because of the state of public education, and we can’t afford that. In healthcare, we discard our elders, dismiss patient concerns, and believe that quantity, churn, and lowering costs take precedence over patient experience and compassionate care. How we treat the sick, the young, and the old says a lot about who we are as a society. And I want us to be better because I know we’re capable of it right now.
Let’s stop making excuses and start doing and making things that matter for the long haul. We’ve got all of the technology and know-how we need. We each possess the most marvelous machine ever created – the human mind. Let’s join them and use them to develop career that are callings, callings to build a better, healthier, happier world.