Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where will you be in 20 years?

I was talking to a person I really liked the other day and asked them if they had their goals written down. They asked me what I was talking about. I'm sure you all know that if you write your goals down, you are much more likely to accomplish them.
We all have dreams . . . We all want to believe deep down in our souls that we have a special gift, that we can make a difference, that we can touch others in a special way, and that we can make the world a better place.
So begins Tony Robbins in "Awaken the Giant Within," his best selling book. If you haven't read it yet...

I learned a question worth asking when giving a guess lecture for a student group a few years ago. I asked them, given a choice of becoming really good at video games, not world class mind you, just very good, or starting a company and making $20M, which would you choose? Then I asked them, what are they doing to make that dream come true? The real answer for most students is nothing.

One of the sad things about living in Carbondale, is so many people are planning to be worse off in 20 years then they are today. So many people's lives were capped when they reached their last college graduation. Few are striving to be great, few are striving at all. We know the janitors, working civil service at SIU, have given up. They aren't learning, they aren't striving, they are filling their slot, until they retire and then they are going to die. Ask them if they want to live to 100 and they say, "what for?" OK for them, but I don't want to be that way. Do you?

It is sad to see SIU's administrators, not working hard to become better managers, hiding behind layers of secretaries, ducking out the back and not working hard. It is sad to see SIU's professors not doing research, not pushing for new knowledge, not working to become better teachers. It is sad to see SIU's students not working to learn the knowledge offered up in their classes and from their professors, and instead worrying about their video games, cell phones, beer bongs, $7/hour jobs and paying for their personalized license plates. SIU is a place that needs an overhaul, it needs to become an organization of striver's again. I can see some movement on the very top, but so many people will have to be fired to make it come true, I don't see it happening.

I have been here for six years, trying to do service for my hometown. Some things turn out well and some didn't. I have 5 or 6 friends I'm leaving behind, that I'm not sure I will be able to replace. I have hundreds of acquiescences, that are great people too. But, I don't want to be here, in a town where a majority think being smart and having no life goals is a good choice. Mediocrity is such a bad life choice. If you have to choose between having a great potential and a PhD or having less potential and making more of it, always choose to work harder.

The questions I leave you with now, where will you be in 20 years? Shouldn't you be doing more, both for yourself and your society?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter.
You do not know the majority of people in Carbondale. You do not know my goals or at least 15,000 others in town. I think maybe you talk to the wrong people. Go where you will be happy and those of us who choose not to prove ourselves to you will continue to reach our goals here. We will base our success by our happiness and yes our financial goals not yours.

By the way how do you feel about Mayor Cole's new sales tax to fund Saluki Way. I can't wait to hear your rationalization.

I wish you much happiness and success even if you do not have a kind word for the people of Carbondale. I just wonder if you will find everyone else less motivated than yourself.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I don't know all 24,000 people in Carbondale (how did you find a number like 15,000?), but I know the results. They aren't very good, are they? In particular, SIU is doing about as poorly as it can, with no end is sight.

I figure the support of Saluki Way is a political payoff, in return for allowing the city to annex SIU last year. Seems like a win for Carbondale and exactly the kind of deal that Wendler and Cole would make. You have any problem with it? It isn't like we are sending money to a East St. Louis tort lawyer.

I don't think I will find people as motivated as I am in great numbers, but don't confuse your perception in the Southern Illinois cultasac with reality. Carbondale in particular, is a pit stop on the road of life and I don't want to wash windows for the rest of my days. It is OK with me if you do, but try to figure out a way to do it better.

I'm glad you are pleased with your situation and wish you well.

Anonymous said...

The worst thing about SIU-Carbondale is that when greatness was achieved it was not recognized (The days when a student could speak one on one with the likes of Bucky Fuller, Herbert Marshall, or Delyte Morris for instance) were replaced with self destructive retrenchment and feel good ideas of fleeting value and ever lower expectations.

Southern Illinois has been looking down for so long it can't see up. Those with talent,ability, and ambition, leave. Those that have these qualities who stay tend to be destroyed by the institionalized low expectations of the area. Notable exceptions exist, and they understand that of which I speak.

Good luck in the Pacific Northwest Peter, I will miss your firsthand assessments of SIU, Carbondale, and Southern Illinois.

Fast Saluki

Fraydog said...

What Peter is talking about isn't just an SIU problem. However, if SIU did decide to change and got the innovative spirit it needs to rediscover, the rest of the region would be motivated to follow. Whatever happened to SIU being a center of order and light for the region? Those days haven't existed since the late 60's. We see the results of this in what has happened to SIU.

Any of you want to fix SIU? Start with yourselves.

Peter, good luck in the Northwest and Godspeed.

Jonathan said...

Oregon or Bust! Good luck on the back stretch of your life (no pun intended, old man).

Perhaps you could give us a last post on your new home and area? Pictures would be nice? Just don't expect me to use your self-portrait as wallpaper. Even I wouldn't do that to Bill Gates' creation. LOL.

Seriously, it was good knowing you. You gave it the "old college try." We'll keep striving here in Cdale, even if the wind is against us.

God bless,

Jon Bean

dave said...

In 20 years, I hope I'm in a better place. ;-)

Wishing you the best!