“A life devoted only to the present — to feeling good in the now — is unlikely to deliver real fulfillment. The present moment by itself it too small, too hollow. We all need a future.”

From the author of Tiger Mom, this book on achievement within distinctly different cultural groups in America steps into the abyss more commonly known as political incorrectness, but does it thoughtfully and successfully.  It is a scholarly approach (over 80 pages of end notes and references) to a tender topic – why some cultural groups in America succeed while others do not.

Amy Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, co-author this brave book.  It became a bestseller. Its central tenet is that a cultural group succeeds in America when it preserves within its culture these three critically important things:

  1. A sense of superiority – a feeling of being distinct and special from other groups in America.
  2. An air of insecurity – a belief that they have to work harder to prove their worth, that there are many others who are better, that they need to strive more.
  3. Impulse Control – the ability to postpone rewards, a pragmatic and consistent self-regulation in this era which pushes immediate gratification.

The authors cover many different distinct groups:  Mormons, Cubans, Nigerians, Chinese, African American, Evangelical Christians, Jewish, Korean and more.  They discuss how these cultures hold fast to this Triple Package and how some, through complacency, had it but lost it.  They do not make the mistake of oversimplifying or painting with too broad a brush.  Remember, there are 80+ pages of research-referencing notes.

Importantly, they chart the history of America’s exceptionalism and they trace the trajectory of those things which contributed to its decline – all of it fitting snugly into the Triple Package premise.  It totally worked for me.

A life that doesn’t include hard-won accomplishment and triumph over obstacles may not be a satisfying one. There is something deeply fulfilling — even thrilling — in doing almost anything difficult extremely well. There is a joy and pride that come from pushing yourself to another level or across a new frontier.”

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