The Menlo Roundtable

Stop Relying on Amnesia and Re-integrate your Past for Intrinsic Growth

Many Americans today tend to devalue accumulated life experiences and over time come to see them as baggage to be disregarded and discarded.

The illusion of “unlimited potential,” regardless of background, is bestowed upon all by the American Dream, which ingrains into each American mind the possibility of self-made success. Contrarily, F. Scott Fitzgerald projects the impossibility of such drastic social changes in his classic novel The Great Gatsby. Marc Freedman of the Harvard Business Review refers to the American Dream as a “reinvention fantasy” which is both “unrealistic and misleading” for most of its admirers, explaining that true growth relies on both past knowledge and forethought. What I, Fitzgerald, and Freedman fear is that the trope of the American Dream instills impractical hopes of skyrocketing growth by setting the expectation that anything is possible. Instead, we need to shift the narrative away from presupposed success and strengthen our relationship with our past rather than forsake it; we need to carve a new path through re-integration and adaptation.