Condoleeza Rice crafts a thought-provoking statement
“The single greatest threat to our national security is the current state of the K-12 education system.”
This statement came from the mouth of former Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice at an event I participated in last week. As the former lead US diplomat, very few in the world can speak with more insight into the current state of national security.
Why education? Her reason was both intriguing and pertinent to anyone who lives in the story making business (marketing, branding, speaking… etc.): we are losing the myth.
When I use the term ‘myth,’ I’m using it like my anthropology professor in college. A myth is simply an overarching story that helps us make sense of reality.
Our perception on freedom to achieve has changed
Dr. Rice explained that America has led the world for years because we fundamentally believe that we have the freedom to achieve anything. This is the “myth” we tell ourselves. We are not bound to a particular social class. If we work hard, put in the time, and have the right attitude, we can be another shining light of the American dream exemplified. We reap the rewards of our efforts and productivity.
We can do all of those things until we stop believing our myth. When a large enough portion of the population stops believing that they have options, they get frustrated. Then restless. Then angry. Then dangerous.
In her mind, the education system is the biggest affront to this myth. Fundamentally, the issue is not schools. It’s the myth. Our myth is that important.
Importance of the myth surpasses economic crises
It’s more important than Europe in a fiscal crisis. It’s a bigger security threat than the volatility in the Middle East, Russia’s crawl back to cold war policies, or even China’s currency manipulation.
This article is not a political statement about whether Dr. Rice is correct, no, it’s about how someone who understands political policy perhaps better than anyone alive puts the power of myth as the central issue of our time. The stories we use to make sense of our world dramatically impacts the way we act. What jobs we pursue. What products we buy. How we treat others.
That leaves me with a few questions: are there any other myths that significantly impact the business world? What can businesses do to tap into the power of these myths? Should businesses take responsibility for the myths they promote in society?