Podcast – Episode 0264 – The Make Your Mark Myth

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Millennial PH team member Nii Codjoe about the pressure our culture puts on young people to change the world and be the hero.

In this podcast you’ll find:



In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Millennial PH team member Nii Codjoe about the pressure our culture puts on young people to change the world and be the hero.

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Showing 11 comments
  • S. U.

    Maybe ego transcendence should come first. Accepting that your life doesnt mean much first settles your restless soul allowing yourself to then fight the battle to have meaning and take the necessary baby steps to get there.
    It would work along with the idea that they tell soldiers in battle. Accepting the fact that you are already dead allows you to function better as a soldier when under fire.

  • Michelle

    Maybe we just don’t need to do something important and noteworthy period. Maybe it’s wonderful to live life in quiet unremarkable anonymity but we haven’t given ourselves the permission to consider that option. And there are ways to “be” and make a living if you find some enjoyment and meaning in your work. We are connected to each other in mysterious and profound ways. There’s a place for everyone. I was struck by what Joel said about the root of all this being the terror that our lives aren’t meaningful. Well…maybe the more important question — from an INFP standpoint 😉 – is whether you lived your life in a way that was meaningful to yourself. Each of us is stardust made conscious for a millisecond in time. Did you enjoy your the ride?

  • Burgundy Morgan

    First, thank you PH for everything you do.

    I think we all want to to live a meaningful life (at least I do!). Yet our cultural conditioning teaches us (1) Have, (2) Do, (3) Be: If we have “x” (such as money), then we can do “Y” (“significant achievements”), and then we will finally Be (happy/fulfilled/joyful/loved/ worthy/significant/fill-in-the-blank!)

    In my experience, the true Gift came when I learned to reverse those steps: (1) Be – (2) Do – (3) Have. It begins with “Being” – …For example, when I embody love/fulfillment/joy/understanding/wisdom FIRST, then that drives what I DO in life, the choices I make, and even the jobs I take (or don’t take). The result is I have an abundant and fulfilled life… and without “grasping” to Have, since the gift was in the Being in the first place.

    This podcast demonstrated what my own experience has taught me: Who we get to Be comes first, and for me, that state of mindful Being gives me beautiful insights and clarity on my relationship with significance, achievement, and self-worth.

  • esotariq

    Great conversation!! And I wish it would have continued even further.

    The French political scientist, Alexis de Tocqueville, was already worried in the 1830’s that the American promise of meritocracy and equal opportunity would result in excessive ambition, corrosive envy and chronic dissatisfaction. And you guys rightly point out that what he was talking about is made so much worse, and so much more humiliating when social-media renders it ever more transparent and obvious.

    Today, when the slumdog, too, can be a millionaire, and when an individual’s failure to escape the “underclass” is self-evident *proof* of his/her poor choices, the psychological torment can lead to a kind of mass-psychosis in society. We are our own worst critic and we don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves because we live in a free society where you can do whatever you want.

    Rosseau also saw how people in a society driven by self-interest came to live for the satisfaction of vanity and for a need to secure recognition from others, and to be esteemed by them as much as one esteems oneself. What is the psychological impact on the majority of people when free choice and social media helps us realize that we’re just chum? Is it to vote a “strong-man” into a position of power in order to re-assume the semblance of order?

    De Tocqueville pointed out that people liberated from old hierarchies “want equality in freedom, and, if they cannot get it, they still want it in slavery.”

    I think what you get is Populism. A psychological need for people like Trump, Modi, Erdogan, etc.. It’s a global malaise and quite possible a result of exporting American values, as wonderful as they are, to other parts of the world.


    Sorry, that was all a little political! Notwithstanding, great podcast, and it would have been great to cover some practical tools to manage this exposure to our failure. How do we tone down these people’s tweets, do we get off social media, or do we resort to Shadenfreude? There’s something biologically and culturally ingrained in us – so how do we hack that?

  • V

    This podcast made me realize that I need to make peace with myself and realize that despite current societal pressures to hustle, ultimately, success and significance do not matter. As they say, ignorance is bliss. I spend too much time thinking about what my significance is as well as my definition of success, but in what I feel is not a productive way. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of my Fi-Si loop.

    I really like the idea of working on yourself so that you will be ready for the future when you do hold a position of influence or power (and I think this applies to more specific hierarchies as well, like the workplace, not just society generally). Maybe I like the idea because it seems ‘easier’ to do and more definite than the principle of ‘leaving your mark on the world’.

  • Marina

    I do feel the pressure to do something important. But I’ve also felt a dual sense of society telling me to “Sit down, be quiet, you don’t know enough yet, and wait your turn.” I find the latter to be persistently frustrating, especially since I look much younger than my age (I could probably still pass as 12-14 when I’m nearly a decade older). Maybe it’s because I’m an ENFP, but I absolutely cannot stand that message as it is so constraining.

    For pretty much all of my life, I’ve had a notion that I would one day do “important things,” but that wouldn’t happen until later because people my age didn’t make any sort of impact. I kept pushing the date farther and farther into my life. Then I started college and realized, “Why push it any farther? I am going to do things I find important and chase ideas and topics I see as important now. I’m still not sure what the “important things” I want to do are. I think I’ve summed it up to “things I can do to make the world better and things that are important to me at that particular moment.” To me, importance is about self-fulfillment and being content with my life.

    I have been learning to carve my own importance out of life. I think that’s a vital skill in our world today. There are so many people and so many ways to make an impact. A lot of them are small, but if we all made lots of small impacts, I think the world holistically would benefit.

    I suppose I do not want to have some big, Society-wide macro level change as my full responsibility. I’m far too indecisive. But I still want to be a part of the events that create the chain to a better world.

    Though, I do see things in the world that disgust me. My gut desire is to rip whatever this is up and try everything new. But that’s when Te and Si whisper in my ear that it’s not practical and it’s not wise to totally wipe the slate clean at times.

    I feel that a lot of young people, in the US at least, are dissatisfied with power structure and the people who are in power. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been utterly disgusted by prominent officials’ behavior and example they set and how their policies negatively impact real people. I see it as faulty judgement, at best, and blind partisan loyalty, at worst (I’m really not a fan of hard core partisan loyalties and I have many many issues with both major political parties).

    Then again, I often find the fact that 6s are called “skeptics” to be very fitting since I’m a 6. It’s almost engrained in my mentality since my upbringing to just inherently mistrust large institutional leadership that I have no means of personally interacting with. So that’s part of my above sentiment.

    I also seem to easily get the impression that people my age are too extreme to one side of the other. Then again, I think that of adults in general. I have met too many people who seem willing to discount everything someone has to say over one disagreement.

    But back on topic, I’ve done a lot of work to realize that I can’t fix every problem and bend the world to my will. So, instead I’ve decided that I’ll just chart my own course and see where it leads while trying to be a positive force in the world along the way. It’s not hard for me to be a positive force. I naturally tend towards kindness and compassion—an outgrowth of my Fi’s extremely heavy emphasis on respect. I would go as far as to say that the concept of “respect” is the central component of my morality and what i value. I suppose if I could save some sort of magic problem-solving wand, I’d give the world more respect.

    • V

      I’m an INFP and totally get this!

      I remember when I was younger when I heard about kids my age doing things (8-14), I thought, ‘what’s the big deal?’. Now that I’m in my 20s and I hear about kids making amazing pieces of art or becoming politically active/involved, I think to myself, why didn’t I get started earlier with something I was super passionate about, pushing against all odds (including the adults who told me to sit down and be quiet)?

      And now that I’ve graduated from college, I see social media posts of my high school and college classmates getting fairly normal jobs, getting married, having kids, etc., and I’m honestly so surprised at how…mediocre we all really are. (Not that it is bad to get married or have kids, but I definitely also grew up with the idea that I/my generation was going to do important things in the larger world, not just within a small social circle.)

  • Simon

    Being a millennial, I can really say that this podcast hit home with me.
    If I’m gonna be completely honest with myself, it’s like I don’t even know or can’t even remember where this idea of making a huge impact in the world even comes from, for me personally.

    Listening to you guys made me inspired for the day (which is great for a dominant Fi and user) and even though, probably, maybe I feel like that our minds will be clouded again and we will go back to skipping steps and wanting to becomes presidents of the world, just to have been given some light through this podcast, atleast helps me to stay in control for a short period even if it is for the day.

  • Jennifer

    I’m really glad you all did a podcast on these issues. The messages of “instant fame and success” are so pernicious now that I recently found myself influenced by them, even though as an INFJ I had thought I was inure to these messages. The wake-up call came when I did a thought exercise where I told myself I would be successful at anything I pursued, as long as I put in the necessary effort and time. I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted to do! Some part of me also wanted to magically get to the end result where I was successful instead of actually doing the work. It made me consider that my attitude was as much the problem as whatever external circumstances I thought were in the way.

  • Yoanna

    This podcast really came at the right time since I’ve been contemplating about this topic daily for years, however, now that I’m at university and even though I really enjoy what I’m studying, I’m more puzzled that ever as to how I will apply my knowledge and skills to my life after I graduate to make this ‘big impact’ that I want to make. I’m actually not from the West but from Eastern Europe and can say that I don’t share this way of thinking with many people there and that’s one reasons why I’ve struggled to understand it. I realise that this mindset brings me a lot of confusion and anxiety about the future and it seems like the pressure is never going to go away. Thank you for talking about this! I felt understood and I definitely agree with what you said that in the end we just want our lives to have mattered.

  • Eucklase

    I really like this podcast, because I figured what you guys were saying out by listening to a man who shared his reflections on 3 verses from the Qur’an. I developed this idea that things would instantly come to me without working hard for it and even failing at it. This underneath totally debunked it.

    Chapter Al-Mulk verse 1-3: “Blessed is He in whose hand is dominion, and He is over all things competent – who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving – [And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?”

    The most striking part of these verses is the third one where He talks about creating seven heavens in layers and you do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. What this is talking about is how everything in His creation is 1. made with Mercy and Love 2. out of his Mercy and Love He made all things seamless, without any breaks, they are all flowing into one another. That can be within one creation but also looking between creation when you think of entire eco-systems.

    So when you look around you where in nature do you see things happen abruptly or suddenly? Do we see flowers bloom in one day? Do these majestic trees just pop up from one day to the next? Do we grow up instantly do we grow old instantly? Do we see abrupt changes from night and day? Do we see our cells suddenly renewing themselves in one go like we’re shedding skin from one day to the next? Nothing in this life is actually abrupt so this sense of instant gratification is highly unnatural and is bound to cause trouble psychologically. Actually God knowing what He created made these transitional creations transitional out of mercy, because it would harm us if things came to us abruptly I am assuming.

    I am done with my sermon haha, but this shows that many roads can lead to Rome but also that you guys have helped me solidify my beliefs of how unnatural the way I have been living was.

    I think many people need to listen to this podcast so they break free from this idea that we’d all be able to make it instantly and that we need to make it to the top to be someone. We don’t need to be on top, female or not, the top is a place of responsibility not just a bunch of privileges, people who are mistaken about this are going to have a rude wake-up call or are the type to abuse the system. This also ties back to your insights from the Covey competency model: we millenials are unhappy with those in power right now or the current hierarchy (which we don’t want to even admit to existing) but we don’t have the competency to fill the void even if we went ahead and got rid of them. Also this experience we’re having is something generations before us went through so we need to understand that this type of experience is necessary for growth not just personally but collectively. And we can’t skip this phase, because this also is transitional and needs time to mature.

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