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19 Apr 2010

Utopia is within Reach

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Building a Utopia

It’s funny how things work…serendipity that is.

I’d been debating what I wanted to write about today, because I had a lot of ideas, but nothing that stood out like I needed it to.

So, I checked my email and saw that the awesome LifeBlazing (Erika) subscribed to my YouTube channel. Naturally, I went and checked out her profile, at which point I saw a video by Terence McKenna, whom I happen to love listening to (Rest in Peace my man).

Within minutes of playing the video, I knew what I was going to write about today, and now my debate is over. Funny how that works isn’t it?

We Have the Power

Editor’s note: Many of the topics in this commentary are lifted from Terence’s speech. I’m not claiming them as my own, but merely wishing to expound upon them.

We have so much money, yet there are so many without it.

We have so much food, yet people die of starvation.

We have so much amazing technology, but some countries don’t even have electricity.

We have so much potential, but for some reason, it’s squandered potential.

I’m going to put aside my Ayn Rand’ish and capitalist opinions aside for a moment and as you to think about this with me…

“Why aren’t we better?”

We have the potential to build, as Terrence put it quite succinctly, a Utopian paradise here on Earth, but for some reason we continue to sabotage it.

Is it because we’re flawed? Possibly, but I don’t buy that.

Is it because we’re selfish? Could be, but I’d argue that many of the richest people in this world seek to make this world a better place. Yes, innovation is not always grounded in morality, but in many cases it is.

Of course, the dark side of innovation is things such as animal experimentation, human trials, hope and failure, and much more that stays behind the curtain, but still…I’d argue that man wants to innovate because he needs to.

We must contribute…we must have meaning.

So why then, are we not living in paradise?

Let’s look at the opposite side of the coin for a minute. Not the poor, but the poor in spirit. The people who lack not money, but satisfaction, motivation, and desire.

In Terrence’s discussion, he spoke of religion as the source for unhappiness, and although I agree with him on some level, I think we can get there without throwing religion under the bus.

When you look at much of the destructive behavior in the world, you’ll find that one of the common trends is short-sighted thinking.

Rob a bank because you need money now and aren’t thinking about jail.

Kill someone out of rage instead of taking a minute to think it over.

Sell crappy CPA offers online because it’s easy to get addicted to making quick money.

Wage war because of religion (must convert now), power (must dominate now), and/or greed (must own it all now).

There are a lot of unhappy people in the world that stay that way not because they don’t have a choice, but because it’s easier to sit and be unhappy than it is to strive for something greater.

Why make a utopia when someone else can do it for me?

And so it is now as it always was…one step forward, two steps back (sing it Paula). Potential improves, but desire remains stagnant.

Atlas can’t hold the world forever…someone has to pitch in.

Yes…I’m arguing that the people responsible for our failure, as a society, to fulfill our utopian capabilities, are those that are too weak to stand up and claim their lives for their own.

Too desperate to think past now.

Too lonely to make new friends.

Too tired to try something new.

It’s not that we’re flawed as a society, or even as a race, but that we’re always thinking about right now instead of 5 minutes from now.

If you examine the literature of any of the modern day Kings of motivation, you’ll find that many of them talk about finding triggers that motivate us towards action.

This is necessary because in most cases, the pain of losing something now, be it time, money, comfort, etc., is enough to keep us from taking action. Unless the future gain is more powerful than the current loss, nothing happens…and people stay miserable.

Problem A: Inability to Overcome “Now” Syndrome

We’ve all heard the phrase, “misery loves company,” and for the most part, know it to be true.

This gets us into the more deadly of the two utopian destroying factions, which are the people that not only can’t overcome “now syndrome,” but also can’t stand the fact that you have.

Some forms of this are:

  • Jealousy
  • Lust
  • Bitterness
  • Hatred

That’s just getting started.

“All marketers are scammers.”

“The rich should give their money to the poor.”

Inequality, abuse, human rights violations, destruction, and sabotage.

These are the dark roads that lead away from a future in which we all have what we want.

It isn’t that the rich have money…it’s that they are tired of it being taken away by force.

It isn’t that technology can’t save us, but that skeptics are in power.

It isn’t that people don’t want peace, it’s that others want war.

Problem B: The Quest to Destroy What Other People Have

So what do we do?

Well for starters, if you’re reading this, and you are miserable, then get out of your prison. See your negative attitude and negative emotions as what they are and quit lying to yourself.

Don’t blame other people first…first look in the mirror.

If you’re reading this and you aren’t a member of one of the two deadly utopian destroying factions, then you need to step up and become more powerful than you ever have before.

I know…the ring is damn heavy, but you’ve got to get tham damn ring to the mountain. Throw that puppy in, and then help someone else get their ring to the fire too.

If the 2 factions are powerful, then we’ve got to become bigger, better, stronger, faster, and hungrier than ever before.

We’ve got to become crusaders.

There are people all around this place trying to destroy your dreams…are you going to let them walk all over your dreams? (ode to Yeats)

Lastly, we’ve got to unite, and focus our energy on shifting the balance of power.

The most powerful entity on earth is not the government, an Army, or a nation, but the entrepreneur.

Everything is in place. We’ve got the web, social media, and our passion…now we just need a banner and a battle cry.

I say it often, but I’ll say it again…let’s build an empire together.

Who’s with me?

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Release Your Dreams


  • Mars Dorian

    I'm with you ;)

    If I had to tag your post with a single keyword, Nathan, it would be EPIC. What
    a illuminating battle cry ! We truly have everything we need in terms of potential, but humans tend to be complacent – it takes daily diligent practice to focus your mind, sharpen your edges and to see the good in people. We can change the way we see the world and even the world in itself, you “just” need an epic mindset that defies the norm and a hunger for success that will also bring value and inspiration to the world.
    I have to end this comment with the best paragraph of comic history:

    “Even though you've been raised as a human being, you're not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all – their capacity for good – I have sent them you, my only son”

  • James Tayo

    “the pain of losing something now, be it time, money, comfort, etc., is enough to keep us from taking action” … that hit a nerve. Good stuff, Nathan. Mars also laid it out well in his “Why YOU Should leap into the Unknown” post.

    The world belongs to the brave…. if we all were ready to reach utopia, quantum leaps will be made.

  • filtercake

    Dude, my head feels like a helium balloon. And @Mars: “Epic Illuminating Battlecry” sums it up pretty well :-]

    “Now Syndrome” is my new tag for the battlefield.

  • Ivan Walsh

    Good point!
    Guy Kawasaki (I believe) said that companies don’t succeed not because they are not good enough, but because they don’t aim high enough.
    It’s a bit like in sports. If you aim to run 5k in 30 min, you'll do it but if you aim for 20min, then you'll make much faster progress.
    Always be raising the bar!

  • LifeBlazing

    Oh man, this is exciting… not just because of the generous hat-tip (THANK YOU!)… not just because you're dancing with one of my all-time favorite thinkers and social critics… but because you *went there*. You went to the place of Hard Questions and Big Solutions. You went to the place of Visionary Recruitment. And know, Nathan, that you have not gone there alone. I, too, feel joyfully responsible to bring forth Utopia. Entrepreneurship empowers me to do this. And kindred spirits like you inspire me to be/do/live at my highest capacity… building utopic empires, and waving banners of love and progress.

  • SHerdegen

    I like the sentiment you express here. We can all change the world, we just have to want to. When we see injustice we don’t have to sigh and say, well that’s just the way things are. We can become the people who change it.

    But leadership is not about getting the glory, it’s about starting the ball rolling. If we’ve created strong bonds of followership our movement will take on a life of its own. If not, we will constantly be having to pull it along and will be limited in our ability to grow.

    I talk more about leadership in this post.

  • SHerdegen

    An inspiring thought about taking control instead of being controlled. We all need to hear more of this.

  • Samuel Rodriguez

    I think one of the causes of some people´s behavior is the loss of values: Things are faster, and people sometimes doesn't have the time to learn the principles and basis of things. “Easy come, easy go”. Anyone can “learn” anything, but without deep knowledge of how things work and the implications of certain activities. It´s like constructing a building without a solid basement. For example, a lot of people learns about the new tools, but doesn´t take care of learning about how a business works, accounting, administration, marketing, etc.
    The technology help us to do things better and faster, but done wrong, makes our mistakes faster and bigger too.

  • Tony Teegarden

    Dude amazing post. I'm with Mars Dorian, absolutely EPIC post (Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorites)

    The world need our contribution, our insight and our efforts. Our thoughts, words and actions aren't congruent with out 1st realizing our potential & power.

    It reminds me of the Maryann Williamson poem, that we aren't afraid of our dark but of our light.

    When we embrace that light we:

    Go within and acknowledge our own power & connectedness
    Raise our personal standards to align with that power
    Move ourselves and unite with others

    Epic moments are achieved.

    Great post brother!

  • Nathan Hangen

    Thank you sir, I appreciate that.

    I'm really bothered by the people that try to tear others down and refuse to step up to fulfill their destiny.

    I think it is extremely important for us to find other like-minded people and then create a powerful force for good.

    As you said…there's power in connection, and we have to use it.

  • Nathan Hangen

    My estimation is that many “values” are formed based on what feels good at the time. Often though, people will have values that conflict with the way they really feel, which causes some of the problems I mentioned above.

    People that fail to do any sort of introspection often end up miserable.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Thanks man.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Love your opening for the 2nd paragraph…perfect way to say it. I don't really want glory, but sometimes glory provides even more power to do great things. That being said, I wouldn't mind living in isolation provided I could still do great work.

  • Nathan Hangen

    I owe it all to you :)

    I get so tired of hearing the same conversations over and over again. It seems much of that never gets anywhere and it becomes a circular pattern in which the only thing improved is egos.

    Let's get down to the nitty gritty tasks of identifying problems and then fixing them. Being an entrepreneur is a great way to do that.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Excellent…I better hear it loud and clear :)

  • Nathan Hangen

    Thanks man. Mars sounds a lot like me…we tend to write about the same things quite often…I like that :)

    Like you said…being brave is so much more than taking risks…it's being willing to accept what happens when the world changes.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Love that quote man…I got goosebumps. Who was writing for DC at the time?

  • Valentina

    Most powerful – better than any motivational material you can get in the morning!

    The great divide between the have and the destitute is complex and is so laden with misunderstanding, perception, ignorance, entitlement, deception, arrogance, unbridled power, greed and so much more. I believe that the chasm is so full that to cross the divide one but need only to walk over and give a helping hand.

    Where does one start? Much of the “starting” has begun. Whether it is in the ghettos of our own country or in the desperate squalor of the barrios good people are out there doing good. It is up to the rest of us to pick up our pace and contribute, and contribute in such a way that the peoples who are at risk can be lifted up in their own environments so that they can better the place that they live in as much as themselves. Much as the physical needs are painful, in my view the most powerful helping hand begins with education, at the very basic level to be able to read and write and to think. TO THINK.

    This is a long process and brings dangers of its own. But that is a discussion that best be left as it would fill a tome.

    We can do our part. We can be a kinder people. Contrary to what many would like us to believe, on the norm the rich are generous. Some may have their own idiosyncracies and are not without their own flaws, but on the norm, they are generous. We just have to meet them halfway in whatever way we can and help them make their contributions that much more effective and that does not have to be to traipse off to some third world country and do good (although if you can that's ok), but what it can be is just leading better lives ourselves and in small ways make someone's life a little brighter, a little more meaningful, a little more respectful in their eyes, not in ours.

    Nathan, what you have raised here is one of those mind disturbing questions and those never have a pat answer, there is no one way, there is no blueprint, and most regretfully, historically, exemplary models are few if any.

  • Mars Dorian

    I don't know, it's a quote from the old and new Superman movie.
    And even though I didn't really like the new one, the teaser trailer (which uses the quote!) is by far one of the most EPIC I've ever seen ! Every time I lack a little motivation – I watch it again and feel joyful for being human ;)
    If you want to check it out:

  • Srinivas Rao

    Hey Nathan,

    Solid stuff here. It's really interesting for us to think about these things. I think there is however some validity in “now” thinking, but only in the context of taking actions now and focusing be the best we can now in order to produce a better result tomorrow. Presence is really important. A utopian society might seem like a dream world to some people and those are the ones trapped in their own prisons. They don't see the world the way people like you and I do. In fact it's easier to blame circumstances and other things than it is to take responsibility. For the first time in history we are seeing individual collaborate in ways that they never have. We don't see each other as competition, but team members who are here to help one another grow.

  • Fiona Verschoor

    Sweet post Nathan. I'm with you on the whole empire thing.

    So many people are happy sitting back and watching… but it's so much more rewarding to be one of the ones actually making a change. Might as well take the leap!

  • Mike Stenger

    Dang Nathan, I almost thought I was in the middle of a rally! Just pulling your chain…

    Anyways, yes, I'm with ya. I think the true reason why we aren't better is most definitely our attitude but also that our goals are not good enough, ones that truly INSPIRE us to take action.

    Like what Tony Robbins said: “People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.”

  • Nathan Hangen

    We've been so close so many times, but each time failure pushes us further back than before.

    I'm not sure we can pull it off now, but I'm certainly going to try…with your help of course :)

  • Nathan Hangen

    As you can tell, I think about stuff like this often.

    One of the reasons I prefer to write about issues like this is because they are timeless, and present a real challenge.

    Anyone can start a blog, write an ebook, or make some cash…but the next step is one of the most difficult.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Damn straight! Welcome back :)

  • Nathan Hangen

    Well, it is a rally of sorts lol.

    Finding my groove, and learning how to talk about things that do more for me than simple marketing and blogging tips.

    I think I've always like the inspirational side of things because it's creative and there isn't a clear map for how it can be done.

    Great quote…so true.

  • Mars Dorian

    RT @nhangen: Are you one of the people that's in the way of Utopia?

  • Kadir Arda KOS

    RT @nhangen: Are you one of the people that's in the way of Utopia?

  • Debbie T. Lawrence

    Absolute bloggy awesomeness via @nhangen …step up and become more powerful than you ever have before. #M3Summit #M310

  • Jill Heisterkamp

    Utopia is within Reach (Great blog post to put things in perspective)

  • Negotiate Your Way to Great Work | Work Happy Now!

    [...] Nathan Hangen wrote a really cool piece. I’m not a fan of the title (Utopia is within Reach), but the message is [...]

  • Jane Lissner

    RT @nhangen Utopia is within Reach

  • Jane Lissner

    RT @Zemalf: Utopia is within Reach <– if this is not the most awesome post today, I don't know what is! thx @nhangen

  • Leon Noone

    G'Day Nathan,

    I'm about to utter a heresy. Stop reading now if you don't want to read it.
    From what I've seen over the last 12 months or so, one of the thrones of greed is enshrined in so called internet marketing. There's an army of people offering all sorts of “failsafe” get rich quick schemes.

    I've run my own direct mail/telemarketing business for over 15 years. I'm not the slightest bit averse to making a handsome living. But since moving my business onto the web I've run into more “cardsharps and crapshooters'” as the old song says, than I did in two decades of offline business.
    These people seem to think that wealth, European cars, mansions, exotic holidays and making thoroughly boring videos about their material success is the “be all and end all.”
    Good luck to them. But I reckon it's a bit rich not to mention them when complaining about the greed culture they represent.

    You were warned. I'd have been a great heretic 1000 or so years ago. Anyway….Make sure you have fun,



  • Robert Bravery

    Utopia is within reach so say @nhangen

  • Tracy

    Ah, Nathan – you just KNOW I'm going to respond to a rallying cry like this one. It still gives me goosebumps to be able to connect to people around the world through the power of this little box on my desk, people like you, people with passion and spirit and integrity, who aren't afraid to believe that we CAN change the world.

    I've joked a fair bit about a label slapped on me by a very dear friend She said I wear the world's biggest rose-coloured glasses. Funny thing is, in the last 24 hours the humour has gone out of it. She delivered it lovingly but it was her way of telling me, as yet another did last night, that I'm an idealist and a dreamer, and frankly, I need to wake up.

    Every day, I carry an awareness that there is incredible pain and suffering and privation and misery, often inflicted by one human being on another. I have travelled in parts of the world where poverty and disease are rife, where religion and violence walk hand in hand.

    I'm not naive, just optimistic. And optimism isn't a disease…or a cute pink set of sunglasses making everything seem rosy perfect.

    It is an understanding that reaches into my core, that informs everything I do with the belief that change, positive change, IS possible – and becomes more possible with each person who embraces the opportunity to be part of that change.

    I'm ALL about changing the balance of power. Save me a place in the front of the charge.

  • LifeBlazing

    Tracy, Nathan, and other Utopian-minded wearers of rose-colored glasses, this might be of interest to you:

  • Kevin Tea

    Utopia is within reach – do you agree or disagree, get those comments flowing.

  • Mike CJ

    Amazing post from @nhangen "Utopia is within reach"

  • Catch Your Career » Blog Archive » Negotiate Your Way to Great Work

    [...] Nathan Hangen wrote a really cool piece. I’m not a fan of the title (Utopia is within Reach), but the message is [...]

  • filtercake

    there you go:

    (Note: I know its not part of the blogoquette to post links to own posts in comments. But in this case your post had a huge effect on me and I wanted to share one of the outcomes. I hope you excuse that.)

  • Why Your Title is Useless | Nathan Hangen

    [...] is about getting things done…it’s about [...]

  • eventualmillionaire


    I remember being a freshman in high school and reading every utopian book I could find (that's how I found Ayn Rand). Then someone told me that the definition of a utopia meant, An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.

    I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. I'm not saying every thing will be butterflies and roses, but we can be close.

    I love this post, and more importantly I love the comments because it shows me how many other people appreciate this thinking. It reminds me of this great video from Derek Sivers about making a movement.

    I'll be joining your movement. :)

  • Susan M. Baker

    per @nathanhangen "The most powerful entity on earth is not the government, an Army, or a nation, but the entrepreneur."

  • Susan M. Baker

    per @nathanhangen "The most powerful entity on earth is not the government, an Army, or a nation, but the entrepreneur."

  • Escape Hatcher

    I am.

    (oh, and I love Erika Harris – lifeblazing too).

  • Escape Hatcher

    I am.

    (oh, and I love Erika Harris – lifeblazing too).

  • Brian Pastore

    @nathanhagan Love the blog post on Utopia: You are always so insightful

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