Two crucial problems lie at the heart of my thinking about how to improve the state of affairs. Those two questions are how to change the negative economic, social and political trends in my country and on a larger scale and how to create socially responsible leaders that can lead the country toward a better future. Those two issues imbue most of the topics presented in my book. Moreover, given that the project is essentially about improving wellbeing, the book contains messages addressed to readers all over the world who are concerned about individual wellbeing, but also to readers who are focused on the quality of life of whole societies. I hope people will keep this in mind when judging the chapters in the book.
In searching for a way to transform current trends, I concluded that the promotion of values and worldviews I treasure could be a good starting point. In a way, I was hoping that it would be easier to motivate like-minded people to support this project by describing the system of values I care for. However, instead of simply presenting building blocks on which my vision of the world stands, I rather decided to write a series of chapters in the course of which I would present myself and describe my approach to life.
Although every chapter has a main idea that runs through it, throughout each of the chapters a number of other, more or less related ideas and concepts are introduced as well. Their full meaning will become clear as one progresses further in the book. In other words, some ideas and concepts introduced in one chapter will be mentioned and elaborated in more detail in later sections of the book. The book is, therefore, imagined as a sort of mosaic where individual bits and pieces slowly come together as the reader continues reading the chapters. By the time a reader finishes this book, I expect that he or she will have understood what this project aims to achieve in its entirety, what I rely on, why I believe that it could be successful and what my vision of life is.
In order to gradually introduce all the various building blocks that make up my system of values, I had to write an autobiographical part of the book. I know that many will immediately raise their eyebrows and say that it was arrogant of me to write about myself when the essence of the project is the transformation of the country. Yet the truth is that I do not see how else I could have provided a complete overview of the principles I intend to advocate in this project. I draw upon my life experiences to a considerable extent, so I simply needed to present them to make my point.
There are several reasons why I structured the book in this way. Firstly, with the help of the chapters in the autobiographical part of the book I was able to provide a glimpse of what it meant to grow up in the Croatia of my youth. This approach offered me the possibility to paint a picture of a society that is rapidly disappearing, but some of whose characteristics I believe we should preserve. I hope that in the process of reading the book it will become clear which characteristics I would like to preserve in my country.
Secondly, I structured the book in this way in order to convey one of the most important messages of this project, the one which concerns younger generations in particular. The message is that knowledge is valuable not only per se, but also for creativity and, consequently, for life satisfaction. Specifically, I know that many young people frequently do not understand the purpose of all the information they are forced to memorize at school. At least that was how I felt during my schooling. But the truth is that the knowledge one possesses plays a role in creativity and that the quality of creative outcomes is influenced by the extent of an individual’s knowledge. That being the case, I decided to structure the book as some kind of a study in creativity. In doing so, my intention was to show that the bits and pieces of information and the knowledge a person acquires throughout his or her life could one day merge with life experiences and form original, creative and valuable ideas. In other words, I wanted to demonstrate how ideas and concepts influence us on a subconscious level, how they resurface years, even decades after having been learned, and form new ideas. The stories I learned as a child, the conversations I had with many people, the movies I saw and the books I read; many of these sources of information came together once I seriously started to think about changing the trends in my country. I was astonished by what my mind revealed to me while I was trying to solve the problems that I kept coming across while developing my plan. Many of my old ideas and experiences came together in unexpected and interesting ways, and I wanted to present this process in order to motivate the youth to pay more attention to knowledge acquisition and to networking with people from all walks of life. In brief, since I would like for my country to become associated with creative life and innovation rather sooner than later, emphasizing the role of education and knowledge for creativity and innovation was of crucial importance for the project.
Thirdly, another reason for which I decided to structure the book as a mosaic of chapters was to make it easier for readers to choose the chapters that best reflect their interests. The chapters cover a very wide array of topics and I know that some readers are going to be interested only in certain topics. In order to simplify matters for anyone who initially might be uninterested in the book as a whole and help that person find the subject that best reflects his or her immediate interest, I had to structure the book in this way. Certainly, those who do not read the book in its entirety will not be able to fully understand the extent of what I want to achieve and of the reasons why I shaped the project the way I ultimately did. Yet, I expect that even readers who read just one chapter will get a lot of food for thought, while those who finish the whole book will undoubtedly be more richly rewarded for their efforts.
My hope is that some of those who are initially hesitant to read the entire book will be encouraged to do so after having read the chapter that is of the biggest interest to them. That is, if some chapters prove to be intriguing enough, I hope that this will capture the attention of as many hesitant readers as possible and prompt them to explore other chapters. In doing so, they will expose themselves to interesting ideas with which they might not be familiar. If this happens, another major goal of the project is going to be fulfilled, and that is the promotion of open-mindedness and tolerance. Namely, it is my belief that the more one is exposed to new experiences, cultures and diversified knowledge, the more open minded and tolerant one generally becomes.
Moreover, the chosen structure of the book has enabled me to introduce a number of ideas and concepts I find truly important for personal happiness and society’s wellbeing. I reflect upon these topics in the chapter that is also the very essence of this project, the chapter on well-being and happiness. I believe that it is only if we realize what truly makes us happy that we will be able to create policies that could direct us toward a desirable society. If we lose sight of what really matters, we are guaranteed to choose the wrong direction for our societies. Since it increasingly seems to me that politicians worldwide are indeed losing sight of what matters to an average person, I wanted to reflect on some factors that are important for my life satisfaction. Provided I find people who, at least for the most part, agree with me on those issues, perhaps we could do something together to put them in the focus of public attention in my country, and perhaps in a larger arena as well.
Finally, I hoped that structuring the book in this way would make it easier to hire likeminded people. Having read the book, the reader should be able to obtain an overview of the philosophy of our companies and institutions and of what will be expected from their future employees. This should make it easier for any potential employee to assess whether they possess the necessary skills, drive and determination to be a part of our team and enjoy the opportunity to make a difference.
Wanting this to be a book that could be read by as many people as possible, in the more theoretical sections (those on expertise, creativity and innovation, wellbeing and so forth), I refrained myself from using only primary and secondary sources. I also used articles from various newspapers and magazines that the reader should have no problems finding on the Internet. Wherever I could, I provided hyperlinks to references in order to facilitate research for anyone who might want to delve a little deeper into a given subject matter. My aim was not to provide an in-depth study of the problems here in question. There are numerous experts who have already done that and much better than I could ever hope. I just wanted to provide a short overview of the ideas and concepts I will draw upon in the project. The text was written with the purpose of challenging readers to reflect on their lives, on the way we organize our societies and on the direction in which the world is going.
Readers should also take into account that the book was written within the time span of three years and that another year had passed before the author managed to publish it. Obviously, some data has already become obsolete. This, however, does not undermine the general message of any of the chapters.
Finally, given that my main aim is that as many people as possible reflect about various messages of this project, I have decided to offer the book to the public free of charge. However, anyone who appreciates the author’s invested efforts and wants to reward him can “buy” the book by donating 5, 10, 15 or 20 dollars. As it is perfectly clear that this project will not develop without financial means, I hope that many people across the globe will recognize the value of the project and will provide financial and other support to it.
I believe that Thomas Edison was right when he said, “From his neck down a man is worth a couple of dollars a day, from his neck up he is worth anything that his brain can produce” (Mark Dodgson & David Gann, Innovation – A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2010, USA, page 88). With this in mind, I wanted to demonstrate that investing time in education is not as futile as it often appears to be the case in my country, in a country in which too often only success in sports is celebrated, while knowledge, imagination, creativity and innovation are rarely promoted.