We live in a competitive world.
I was brought up to believe competition was good. Competition made everyone better. When you compete, you are always comparing yourself to others. You compare not only results but the path to success. How was that accomplished and how might I make changes that would allow me to achieve similar results.
Let’s face it, we all do it everyday. We see what works or what is popular and then try to emulate those traits.
In business, I read, watch and listen to many other community news organizations to see what they are doing, how they are doing it and how I might apply those approaches to our company. I also look at many comparisons of our company’s performance, looking for various trends, how those trends affect the health of the organization or how a specific trend might be leading us down a path we must alter.
That competitive approach leads me to look at a lot of different details and survey information, always looking for a nugget that might prove to be a valuable component in our company culture.
Well, here is a little detail I recently ran across that I found very interesting and compelling. While it affects our company, I believe it has far reaching affects on our society as a whole. It was the rankings of the happiest countries in the world. Sadly, the United States didn’t crack the top 10 list, but our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, did make the grade.
The USA used to be in the top 10. But for the last four years, we’ve failed to measure up. How can that be? Here we have a nation driven to succeed. A country carved out of the wilderness by self-made adventuring explorers, fearless pioneers and successful entrepreneurs. Success is a part of our DNA. As a nation we’ve always taken the competitive challenge and never failed to answer the call.
But as a nation over the last 20 years or so, we seem to have lost our competitive spirit. Have we been spoiled by previous successes? Can it be recent failures are causing the unhappiness, or is it the unhappiness that is causing us to lose our desire to compete?
The good folks from Switzerland are the happiest people and most satisfied with their lives for the second year in a row, according to the Better Life Index, published annually by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The study looks at 11 variables that contribute to a high quality of life. Those variables include things like income, education, housing, health and life satisfaction. Making the grade were the following countries:
So what has happen to the US of A? Happiness isn’t just about income opportunities and health, especially when you consider Mexico in the top 10, given some of the issues facing that country. Yet, it’s clear an unhappy state of mind is keeping this country on the sidelines, while other nations seek to improve their quality of life.
We must face the simple fact that when one is feeling good, happy and at the top of their game they can climb any mountain and conquer any obstacle. But we’ve allowed ourselves to become mired in the negatives over the recent past without much focus on the many positives. We’ve forgotten to celebrate and reach for the many opportunities available to us in the US. Our leaders are not leading us, they are far too busy fighting among themselves and would rather tear at the fabric of the nation instead of seeking solutions to move past the obstacles where we disagree.
Surveys like this might be somewhat meaningless or they could be the wake up call we need to pick ourselves up off the canvas and get back in the game. Attitude, as they say, is everything in life, and as a nation we better come to grips with the long term affect this period of unhappiness is having on our ability to compete in the world. From education scores, production rankings and other indicators, the US needs to shape up. We better get our act together soon and show this world what happiness and quality of life is all about, for our own good and for the betterment of the entire world’s population. A strong, upbeat and competitive America is good for the entire world.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.