For a long time, I have felt strongly that every American should spend time living abroad (at least 6 months). Why? To give each person the ability to think beyond their own existence, to truly appreciate just how different, how varied our world can be. And, in the case of leaders, the ability to more readily appreciate competitive concerns, issues of cultural acceptance, as well as otherwise unseen risk.
As Americans, we have long seen ourselves as free, progressive, and dynamic. Unfortunately I think we’re all too far along the path to emulating Europe. Instead of a nation of Doers, with dynamic energy, routinely celebrating major accomplishments, we are stagnating.
– Between 1968 and 1972, nine American spacecraft voyaged to the Moon. Almost 40 years ago.
– Our space shuttles will all be retired this year; just more museum pieces.
– It might be another decade before we have a National means of putting men in space again.
– For the first time ever, there is fear upcoming generation(s) won’t exceed our their parents’ standard of living.
– The US no longer boasts the world’s tallest buildings.
– A new World Trade Center in New York, some of the world’s most prized real estate, has been in discussion for nearly a decade now.
Take a look at this picture…
This is a model of Shanghai as it’s planned to be, by 2020. Keep in mind, Shanghai is already home to over 22,000,000 people. That’s almost three times the size of New York City (8,000,000). If you think the picture above is impressive, take a look at these.
My friend, Andrew J. Stein, recently returned from China after working on a project. He emphasized how clean, fresh, and vibrant the cities are. One very stark difference jumped out at me. In Shanghai’s Pudong district, home of the Shanghai World Financial Center, they have finished the foundation for the next building in the cluster.
Andrew emphasized that, they’ve not selected the contractor for completing the building, yet they already are planning for the building’s completion inside 18 months!
There seems to be a massive difference. In China, they are doing! In the U.S., we seem to have degenerated to a nation of nay-sayers: not in my back yard, don’t block my view, where’s my entitlement, my hand out, me, me, ME! This is not what our founders envisioned. They’d have never imagined the US becoming a nation of whiners.
Shanghai, is but one such Chinese city. In the year 2000, Beijing and Tianjin had 15 million each; and seven other cities had a population of more than 5 million each. More than 100 Chinese cities have a population of more than 1 million (source).
Want to talk about ambition: China is planning to create the world’s biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42,000,000 (source).
Today, I wanted to take a big, big picture view of things. I hope to impress upon my fellow countrymen, the need to get over ourselves and get back in the saddle! Let’s start doing again, before someone shows us how it’s done.