How the American Dream is Starting to Lose Its Value

One of the very first articles that people enjoyed reading on Secret Entourage was called “What is the American Dream” and to this day, still remains one of our most shared articles. Since we wrote that piece 4 years ago, things have changed both on an economic standpoint, as well as from employment standpoint. We described The American dream as “opportunity”, not so much employment but perhaps they could be a bit related as many have to be given the opportunity to work in order to continue to rise and seize further opportunities. With the job market shrinking and an economic collapse that has yet to show significant signs of recovery lies ultimate question that arises: “Is the American dream dead?”

While it may be true that the American Dream may look different today than it did 40 years ago, it is still very much alive although it has changed a lot in the past 5 years alone. In today’s climate, opportunity no longer looks like employment in the conventional sense, especially since a formal education has no guarantee of employment. Today’s climate has shifted the sub-meaning of the American dream from employment to the ability to “try“ and really is defined based on our access to information, resources and goods; which can be considered education as well, just not formal in nature. It may sound very vague and discouraging, as the path to success has become more aligned with entrepreneurship and innovating rather than working a great job like in the old days.

To give a you a great example of that, one of our very own students of our Secret Academy started a company that designs carbon fiber cases for the iPhone 5, and only did that out of his love for carbon fiber and the fact that he identified a need consumers may have. Six months after he came up with the idea, a company was formed, sales were made and today he is on his way to a six figure year. He has yet to graduate high school and had no money handed to him to start the business itself. His access to information and people, as well as his ability to be resourceful, enabled him to create what today is known as Carbon Trim Solutions. A story that you hear quite often in this country but very rarely abroad. So if that is the case then what has really changed to make people believe that that dream has died?

Three very important things come to mind:

– The shift from formal education to real world experience as the educator.

As discussed above, this will probably be the reason most people see the American dream as just that: a dream. Their expectations that themselves or their children will receive a formal education leading to success is perhaps their first mistake. The education system’s lack of ability to stimulate the mind and instead simply provide information has made the information it provides outdated and certainly not useful. This shift has made more people seek information out on their own rather than from a formal source, this is both a great and bad thing as this information is subjective to opinions and sometimes will be biased if the intentions are to capitalize on the reader as revenue. Information overload and lack of ability to identify real credibility also plays a severe role in this.

– The lack of a clear path to success.

While the path to being successful and providing a decent salary for your family used to be black and white, it certainly has changed drastically in the past few years. While many are inspired by the stories they hear of or see, they are very often confused as it may be difficult for their limited awareness to identify patterns in the success ahead and therefore do not see the path ahead like they used to.

The path of each entrepreneur is different and while the requirements for success may be universal, they are not taught through stories or lectures but rather experience. The real problem here is no one is teaching people how to grow the confidence to try making more people spectators of the American dream, rather than players and winners. You can’t win a game watching from the sidelines. You must play the game, even if no guarantees exists and that is a pill hard to swallow for many who are new to that concept and come from families whose view on the American dream is old school and no longer accurate; but yet imposed on the next generations to come.

– The Introduction of false hope.

Here comes the illusion of the American dream or what I call opportunist companies known as MLMs. The real issue with a financially divided wealth system is that the gap between wealthy and poor increases more and more each year making it harder for people to catch up. That is normal and certainly not a bad thing as you should never want someone who is running to slow down because others only know how to walk.

There is also the issue that it leaves a lot of room for exploitation. The idea of false hope is what I am referring to. False hope is exactly the magic formula that makes every well known MLM a success. It’s the idea of selling hope to someone who previously had given up or didn’t know where to go. This process is the false creation of “opportunity” through an image that is simply too good to look past. The opportunity is then targeted at those who simply don’t know where to go and the illusion of a clear well lit path is made.

While it is true that a few succeed, the majority (over 93%) fail and are reminded when they do so that it was them who were unable to achieve their dreams as the path was clearly lit. The reality, however, was that as lit as the path was, their destination was nothing more than a lie, which was unreachable. These false hopes continuously damage people’s belief in themselves as well as create more questions about the validity of opportunity and if indeed they are to be seized again.

These are the 3 main factors that will continue to worsen with higher populations, less education, and a higher division of wealth. The reality does remain, however, that despite all the issues above or the upcoming issues we have yet to face, there are still very few places someone can build a billion dollar empire (Apple) from their garage despite major competitors owning entire market share (Microsoft) and where kids under 21 can create 7 figure app companies without a penny or any formal education and that is why the American dream is very much alive, but it might look very different than the dream you parents had.