Two weeks ago, I ran through the countryside of Belgium.
I am still amazed by the patchwork of houses that do not reveal any vision of creative unity or aesthetic pleasing. What’s worse, I noticed very little progress.
We lived in Belgium from 2005 through 2007, and it felt like nothing had changed.
That evening, I had dinner in a local brasserie, and not much had changed there. The menu of this brasserie looked remarkably the same as some of the brasseries we frequented nearly eighteen years ago.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not an email about bashing Belgium.
I could write a similar email about elements within American, German, or Dutch society.
My run through the Belgian countryside reminded me of a keynote speaker at a local college workshop about global economics.
How my brain works sometimes keeps amazing me.
The speaker, unaware there was a Dutch guy in the audience, predicted the end of American global dominance like the Dutch and British dominance had also ended.
“The British and the Dutch still believe they matter, are still arrogant about their leading capabilities, but they have fallen asleep and are oblivious to the change happening around them.”
“That same fate will wait for us, the United States.”
This was 18 years ago.
That speech ran through my hat as I ran through the Belgian countryside.
Very little progress.
This housing situation in the Belgian countryside is just a metaphor for the lack of progress within mature western economies and society.
It’s the law of diminishing returns.
When you’re ahead, complacency is lurking around the corner.
The core question is: how do you stay hungry?
How do you stay curious about the change around you?
How do you keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into your stretch zone?
How do you prevent taking things for granted?
How do you prevent yourself from falling asleep and staying relevant?
The answer is easy.
Take a walk.
Go outside and look at what’s happening around you.
Stop looking inside, trying to find answers and solutions within what you already know.
Look where you’re unknowing and unaware.
Be your anthropologist.
Develop a mindset that never gets satisfied with what is. Always look for what could be.
If you’re not on top of your league, try harder. Don’t look for incremental progress when you want to stay relevant. Take leaps.
Of course, it all depends on whether you want to.
Those people in the Belgian countryside are probably happy with what they have. If that’s the case, be my guest.
But don’t complain then when others pass you with a growth mindset. Don’t envy your neighbors for having a nicer, more modern house.
If you want to stay ahead, you need to keep looking around you to see what’s happening.
And take action when you’re losing ground and are unhappy about it.
Your turn: Stay ahead or lose ground?
Do more of what makes you happy!
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