In the spirit of July 4th, and celebrating America – let’s talk playing hard!

When I think of America as a brand, I think of the Land of Opportunity. I think of The American Dream. I think of dreams and goals and achievement and success that is attainable by anyone and everyone. Values, ideals and ideas that align well with what Seize Your Passion is all about.

Intrinsically tied into those values and ideas, and deeply embedded in American culture as well as in success and achievement mentality is the underlying core value of hard work. Yes, you can achieve anything, build an empire from nothing, follow your dreams, and attain “success” – whatever that means to you – no matter who you are or where you come from, but you have to work hard to get there.

Hard work is so ingrained in American culture, more than any other, that play time or down time is actually frowned upon. If you take too many days off, you’re lazy. If you don’t work a gizillion hours a week, you’re not working hard enough and you’re lazy. If you take too much vacation time, you’re self-indulgent and lazy. If you travel the world, you’re a spoiled tycoon and/or you’re lazy. More than any other culture in the world, in America hard work is celebrated above all else, and often to the exclusion of hard play. No pain, no gain. Work, work, work, work, work.

I’m not saying hard work and working hard is not important. It is. I’m not saying that to seize your passion, achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams you don’t have to work hard for it – because you do. I’m not denouncing that core value; in fact, I am a huge advocate and believer in hard work.

What I am saying is – let’s celebrate playing hard as much as we do working hard. Because it’s just as important to seizing your passion, to achieving your goals, to attaining true success and fulfillment, and to embodying the true meaning of what The American Dream is all about.

I’m saying work hard, but play hard too. And if you can, play even harder! Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t label yourself or worry about others labeling you as being lazy. Don’t beat yourself up about it. In fact, if you play just as hard and maybe even harder than you work – I promise you, you will end up creating more value, being more creative, more productive, bring more passion and joy and energy into your work and into your everyday life. And, isn’t that what it’s all really about?

Someone very dear to me sent me this fable not too long ago, that I’d like to share with you, as it speaks to the point I’m making:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that, you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!” 

So, in the spirit of Seize Your Passion and of The American Dream – have an amazing July 4th everyone, and go play hard!

#SeizeYourPassion! Happy 4th!

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