Direction & Deutschland
Climbing your “Mount Everest” will inevitably take more effort than planning the trip. Setting goals and putting together a practical plan to reach those goals takes time and involves hard work. If you do not have a clear sense of direction in your life right now, your energy needs to be focused, first of all, on establishing one. But once a general focus is determined, and hopefully a very specific plan is in place, the work begins in earnest.
It can be discouraging facing the prospect of a long and difficult journey. Are you up to the task? Do you have what it takes? You may not feel like you do, but do not let those feelings deter you. And, if you are looking for some inspiration in your ongoing efforts, may I suggest turning your attention towards Deutschland. That’s right. Germany.
If citizens from other energetic countries are inclined to protest, I must begin by mentioning that I am not from Germany and do not have any ethnic connection to Germany. If I had lived in Seoul or Beijing for a significant amount of time, you would most likely be reading about South Korea or China right now. But I didn’t. I lived in Germany, West Germany actually, and I was inspired by what I saw.
In saying this, I am not at all suggesting that I grew up among collective Canadian slackers. Here in rural western Canada, there is a strong connection to and respect for the determination and grit displayed by the early pioneers. Canada is comparatively a very young country, and memories of the hard times in the early years are still strong particularly in the west. In my own community, you would meet many people Max Weber could have easily included in his book The Protestant Work Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism. If anything, some may have on occasion worked too much.
That said, the work ethic I observed in Germany, still stands out in my mind. And, after living there, it comes as no surprise to read in the newspaper that the German economy is doing comparatively very well in 2012, while so many others falter.
My Lufthansa flight touched down in Frankfurt just 43 years after a devastating war on German soil. And for the most part, from what I could tell, the entire country had been rebuilt. Incredible. Money from the Marshall plan must have helped, but I seriously doubt that it made the most difference. For I soon encountered an exceptionally strong no-nonsense, get-it-done, make-it-happen, and-right-on-time attitude that appeared to be widespread.
It was apparent that the North American students were, by and large, outclassed by the German students at the international English-speaking school I attended. A German student named Johannes had the top marks that year. My German classmates seemed to have grown up faster and to be more mature. Young men my age had to serve in the military for two years. It was typical for them to speak several languages. Everywhere I looked, well, almost everywhere, I observed a pursuit of excellence.
Discipline, determination, drive…so many people I met in Deutschland demonstrated and even exuded these qualities. And so many were very friendly and warm at the same time. That was over 20 years ago now, and for all I know the situation may have changed. But, I hope not. For whatever faults there are to be avoided in Germany’s history, their stellar work ethic is surely something to be admired.
Life isn’t all about work. And working harder isn’t such a great idea if you really should be working smarter. But, it is going to take work, and lots of it, if you ever hope to accomplish your goals or reach your destination.
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