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The United States men's soccer team began the World Cup competition with low-expectations from their own coach. However, they managed to win last night's game, anyway.
Then, there's the San Antonio Spurs whose performance in the NBA Finals this month caught everyone off guard (except the fans who felt they should have won last year), in part because their team did not consist of superstars.
There are a couple of Hall-of-Famers, but it is an old team, which relies on strategy and smarts. At the start of the NBA Finals, I had written about a team's culture of success in which success in winning should serve as a model beyond sports to other endeavors.
While I watched the game and listened to the announcers (who made excuses for the Heat), rarely was it mentioned just exactly how many team players were born outside of the United States.
It is astonishing how a bunch of regular dudes from overseas can play the game of basketball so well; we are not talking about soccer or rugby, but a sport born in North America and perfected in this country a long time ago.
Martin Kaymer of Germany won the US Open golf tournament with ease, and he could easily be considered the best golfer in the world. His career was nearly interrupted by his own demands for perfection, which the golf sensation says is something all Germans "strive for."
I must say, those 'profound' words struck a chord with me when I heard them a few weeks ago, as Kaymer was winning a different USGA tournament. Striving for greatness or even perfection is something that would never have been frowned upon, and indeed would have been encouraged in America's past.
Now, we are in full scrum over a significant increase in pay for those with the lowest skill sets, which threaten to reward mediocrity in a manner in which fewer will ever come close to perfection. Then, there is the new push into Silicon Valley to expose a lack of diversity and presumably make things right by paying money to co-called civil rights organizations, or by giving people jobs, in place of better- qualified candidates. The fact is that it is not only in the field of athletics in which people should strive for perfection.
I would be the first to protest outright racism, but what is happening in Silicon Valley is about so many other things...
The bottom line is that Americans are not hungry enough. It reminds me of the book, "The Triple Package" by 'Tiger Mom' author Amy Chua. The book discusses why certain people fare better economically in America than others. It boils down to three distinct reasons:
- A Superiority Complex
- Impulse Control
The idea that anyone is better than anyone else in America, according to Chua, is anathema and is seen as the root of things like racism, colonialism, imperialism, and Nazism, just to name a few scourges that have left an indelible imprint on mankind. Yet many of the groups who excel are from another country, and once they arrive, they perceive that their skills and customs are treated in a belittling manner. This creates the perfect storm of people simmering on the inside, but need the right kind of discipline to keep their head down, resist temptation, and wait for their moment.
Diversity at LinkedIn exposes an American public school system that is too focused on grade inflation and the wages of teacher. In the knowledge economy, we Americans are woefully prepared, but the good news is that a part of one's college debt will be forgiven. Despite these problems, America continues to have that kind of swagger.
Based on the achievements of those who came before us, Americans have a lofty perch from which to ponder. Nevertheless, the clock is ticking...