Dr Nesse believes that persistence is a reason for the exceptional level of clinical depression in America—the country that has the highest depression rate in the world.That is from an interesting article on Economist.com. Some recent research indicates that mild depression may be nature's way of discouraging people from trying to achieve unattainable goals. One of the researchers notes that that the dynamism of the US comes from lots of people pursuing unreasonable goals. On the one hand, entrepreneurial spirit makes the US the engine of innovation in the world. On the other hand, the costs in terms of mental health are significant.
All of this research is still at the speculative stage. But this article does provide a useful caution against overly romanticizing entrepreneurship. Someone asked me the other day what I thought the most useful thing was that they could do to promote social entpreneurship. "Create a nice place for social entrepreneurs to get together, blow off steam, and decompress," I told him.
Maybe we should do the same for the project leaders on GlobalGiving, many of whom are out there every day straining to achieve the impossible. As one of them told me a while back, "The work is grueling, but at least the pay is bad!"