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The PragerU Take on Ayn Rand

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Check out the brand new PragerU video on Ayn Rand. Watch the video or read the transcript below!

Script:

Who is John Galt?

This is one of the most famous questions in modern literature. Even today, over 50 years after it was written, you’ll hear people asking it.

Why?

Because it recalls the riveting suspense story, heroic characters, and powerful ideas portrayed in the bestselling novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 2, 1905, Rand became one the most celebrated authors and philosophers of the 20th century. Her most famous novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, still sell hundreds of thousands of copies every year around the world.

Rand lived through the early years of the Russian Revolution, saw her father’s pharmacy business confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and experienced the horrors of communism firsthand.

She longed to emigrate to America. In 1926, she did—and never looked back.

To Rand, the United States meant freedom. She saw the Founding Fathers as heroes. They created a country based on individual rights.

“Man’s right to his own life, to his own liberty, to the pursuit of his own happiness,” she said, means that every individual has a “right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself”—nor to the government.

The practical results of the American system, Rand said, could be seen in the skyline of New York City.

“America’s skyscrapers,” she noted, “were not built by public funds nor for a public purpose: they were built by the energy, initiative, and wealth of private individuals for personal profit. And, instead of impoverishing the people, these skyscrapers, as they rose higher and higher, kept raising the people’s standard of living.”

Rand advocated pure capitalism, which she described as a system in which “the government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights.” No bailouts, no special favors for big business, no government intervention into the economy.

When people are free to produce and trade, and when the government is limited to protecting rights, everyone benefits. Individuals thrive. Societies prosper.

How do we know this?

Compare freer, more capitalist societies to less free, more statist ones:

In Rand’s day —

America compared to the Soviet Union.

West Germany to East Germany.

More recently:

South Korea to North Korea.

Colombia to Venezuela.

Such differences were painfully obvious to Rand. So were their causes.

In Atlas Shrugged, she showed how easily a free society can collapse into a dictatorship. The heroine, Dagny Taggart, works tirelessly and brilliantly to save her family’s railroad business, while ever-increasing government interventions destroy businesses and crush the economy.

Meanwhile, one by one, the top producers across various industries mysteriously disappear. No one knows where they have gone. The only clue is a question they leave behind: Who is John Galt?

As the economy crumbles, how do politicians, bureaucrats, and academics react? They blame “the greedy businessman” and decry the profit motive and free markets. Their solution: more government intervention which, of course, only makes the problem worse.

Sound familiar?

Atlas Shrugged is a cautionary tale about pursuing equality over excellence—state control over free markets—but it’s also about the power of the individual and the power of reason.

The individual’s reasoning mind, Rand argued, is his tool of knowledge—his only means of understanding what is true or false, how the world works, what is good or bad for his life.

This is the theme of Rand’s work more broadly: In order to thrive, to achieve happiness, the individual must think for himself and live by the judgment of his own mind.

We'd love to hear your thoughts about this article. Please take a minute to share them in the comment section by clicking here. Or carry the conversation over on your favorite social network by clicking one of the share buttons below.


Chris is one of the World's Top 50 Speakers, member of the Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame, and one of Inc. Magazine's Top 100 Leadership Speakers. He considers it a privilege to be able to speak to people, help them lead successful lives, become extraordinary leaders and, masterful salespeople. Chris has authored twenty books with three million copies in print in 13 languages and over 450 articles on success, leadership, sales and motivation.



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Business

The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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Business

Micro-tasking for Effective Performance

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand while those who multitask often do a disservice

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Much as been discussed about multitasking and fortunately, much of what has been written exposes the myth that multitasking represents. Instead of making us more productive and having a greater output, we tend to slow down on the very things that were trying to speed up on, and we end up making more errors.

Micro-tasking, by contrast, is the ability to compartmentalize and to focus in quick, short intervals on a variety of items that compete for attention. This is a vital skill for career professionals. While micro-tasking is effective for quick decisions, and for handling routine and short term tasks term nature, multitasking is the attempt to handle two or more important tasks at the same time. It is not to be confused with micro-tasking.

A Skill to Cultivate

Some workers have little choice in the short run but to work in a distracting, noisy environment. Some employees, in particular, were retained to be able to quickly shift their attention from one issue to another, focusing on each issue as needed.

In an interruption-based environment, such as a hospital, police station, retail store, or airline ticket counter, the ability to micro-task is a valuable skill.

Throughout the course of a day, a manager in such settings might encounter a variety of people asking questions and voicing concerns. For sale managers micro-tasking can make all the difference in making quota or not.

Slow Down!

Tasks that require our sharp attention necessitate that we slow down, focus, keep interruptions at bay, and work as effectively as we can, toward completion. Handling two tasks simultaneously, each of which require sharp attention, is a prescription for poor results.

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand. Others, who engage in multitasking, often are doing themselves as well as their organizations, a disservice.

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