Nature of Success
The topic, “Nature of Success” is a wide area of study with a lot of information. Selecting the most suitable piece of information to integrate in the article was a challenge but is dealt with by choosing common knowledge and examples. The readers must therefore focus on the examples of successful people depicted in the essay as well as divergent and congruent views of various authors in the nature and elements of success. I recommend that readers give suggestions on other success stories that defy the perspectives of the authors whose views have been used to support the main ideas.
The Nature of Success
Success is one of the most desired things in life. The question every individual asks him/herself when starting a company or a project is, “how would I be successful.”Indisputably, no one wants to be associated with failure but everyone wants to be known to have lived a successful course. Thus, it pegs the question, “what is success?” and also “what is failure?” Professionals, heroes, celebrities, scientists and leaders have adopted different views on what it means by true success. In Diana Senechal’s article, “The Cult of Success,” she defines success as the possession of virtues, wisdom, excellence, personal contentment or a mix of any of these constructs. However, while this is the ideal definition, Senechal notes that this definition has flattened over time to accommodate decades of violations of the code of success. Changes in society have forced the definition to be limited to the external constructs of appearance, money and status. According to Albert Einstein, “if A is success in life, then A equals x+y+z. Work is x, y is play and z is keeping your mouth shut”. One cannot deny the fact that many authors, whose ideas are considered significant by many, agree and disagree on the true nature of success. It is important to note that each person on earth is unique in his/her talents, abilities, desires, passions and way of thinking. What levels these attributes is purpose, that is, where and how one channels those attributes maximally before dying. Consequently, in efforts to understand the nature of success, it is quintessential to consider one’s purpose in life other than wealth, notable achievements, excellence, wisdom and amount of influence. This article delineates and qualifies success as completion and total fulfillment of purpose or one’s original intent for existence with references and quotations from various authors.
Success entails focus on a single passion or problem and performing excellently in it. An interview on CNBC featuring one of the most successful individuals of our time, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, it is reported that the two agreed that success is not nurtured by trying to do many things at the same time. It is not in the volume of responsibilities one has. For instance, Steve Job succeeded in building a flourishing company by narrowing his focus on the aspects the company could perform in. He took Apple from its original target or producing hundreds of products to only focusing on 10 products. According to David Epstein in his book, “The Sports Gene,” there is a reason beyond practice that makes Kenyans do well in marathons and other long distance track, Jamaicans dominating short races such as 100m race and tall individuals having a higher likelihood of qualifying to play in NBA. Epstein claims that genes are vital in success in sports more than practice. Epstein silently echoes the assertion on each person having his/her distinct purpose in life depending on his/her natural abilities. Natural abilities are hidden in one’s genes. For example, Kevin Hart is a successful comedian but can never succeed at all in athletics. The fastest man in the world, Hussein Bolt has said many times that he dream of one day playing soccer for Manchester United club. However, at his age, no matter how many times he practices, it will definitely not be signed by one of the best football clubs in the world. In other words, if it was merely a matter of desire and practice, Bolt would practice continuously until one day he is signed by Manchester United. It would have been a disaster if Barrack Obama tried to become a professional boxer or bodybuilder. Naturally, he is adorned with mellifluous voice and sharp memory skills that makes him world class orator and public speaker but not a professional boxer. Just as Senechal said, “Success has something to do with living a life poured out and as Friedrich Nietzsche proposed, being strongly and entirely ourselves”. Senechal meant to say that every person is unique in his/her abilities and therefore the best approach is one utilizing his uniqueness to stand out in his areas of interest such as business, politics, comedy, science and sports just to mention a few. Therefore, success is best nurtured by channeling most energy and time in a single passion fueled by one’s unique natural ability.
Success requires hard work is the chosen area of interest/purpose. This concept marries the two conflicting views of Malcolm Gladwell and David Epstein. While Epstein attributes genes to success of sportspersons, Gladwell attributes their success to implementation of 10,000 hours principle in practice. Even though the two authors appear to have conflicting views, they agree on many things. It is true that World best in darts, high jump, football such as Lionel Messi and athletics like David Rudisha (the world 800m race record holder and reigning Olympic champion) do not need to dedicate 10,000 hours of practice to consistently maintain their level of performance. However, for people in other fields such as jazz pianists, violinist and spoken word artists, the 10,000 hours rule may strongly apply.
The confluence of the two views is definition of purpose in life. Focusing on purpose enables a person to work smart rather than working hard. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, developed the social network to connect students in Urban University but ended up becoming a gigantic tool for social connectivity. What Zuckerberg’s story illustrates is the fact that living a life of purpose would enable a person to avoid time wastage through unnecessary focus in activities that would not yield fruits in the long run. The late bestselling author, leader and motivational speaker, Dr. Myles Munroe once said, “The greatest failure is succeeding in a wrong assignment”. This claim is an absolute truth taking into consideration this example: if the World Boxing Champion Mayweather was a successful personal assistant, he would have lived less his potential thus becoming part of failure. Work is a vital ingredient in making of success no wander it is included in definition of success by Albert Einstein, a successful scientist. In summary, it is imperative that a person know the reason for his/her existence and calculate the cost of what it takes to excel in the given field.
Success is a process that has to be nurtured. Nurturing is assimilated to incubation process. As per Malcolm Gladwell, ability is never sufficient and so is hard work. It is important that a person be in the right place during a period of time and seize the advantage of what is offered. According to biology, an egg requires a suitable environment so that it hatches into a chick without which it would be rendered useless. The same concept applies to life. Exposure to certain things gives certain people advantage than others. For instance, a child who grow in home full of computers or electronics is likely to develop interest in computers, start coding at early age and perhaps one day grow up to be a successful computer programmer just as it happened to Mark Zuckerberg. Another good example is the influential gospel musician, Kirk Franklin.
His aunt took his for piano classes at the age of 4. This exposure to music at early age enables him to become choir director at 17 and to date, he has recorded many albums, mentored many more musicians received numerous awards for his influence and achievements in gospel music industry. These examples supports Gladwell’s ideas in the book, ‘Outliers’ and affirm Senechal’s statement; “the quest for a success formula occasionally takes surprising turns.”Steve Jobs once said, “If you take a close look, most overnight successes took a long time.” Steve Jobs was one of the most successful business leaders of this century and acknowledged the fact that success is a process that has to be nurtured in private before it can be displayed in the public. The shock of the matter today is that most people want fame but are ready to invest their time in work. Therefore, success is a byproduct of long hours of work in secret.
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Success is driven by passion and not predictable reward. Successful people are not motivated by need for financial gain, fame and material things. To them, money is just a reward for their efforts but the undying passion to do what they are good at is their motivation. In the book “Cult of Success,” Senechal illustrates this concept when she observed that success requires willingness and empty-handedness to work out of dedication, love and curiosity without considering awaiting benefits. She further warns that preoccupation with superficial success characterized by pursuit for image, money and power is a deception. Passion is the basic element that makes people endure challenges and inculcate patience with a sense of optimism in their journey. In the book, “The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies” Robert Edwards Lane reveals a shocking reality in advanced market democracies where citizens are contented with material progress but are constantly disturbed by spirit of unhappiness. Robert shows a different side of success that contradicts the lifestyles and beliefs of many.
Normally, the first thing that lingers in a person’s mind when the word success is mentioned is wealth, then fame, power and influence. Consequently, people tend to associate celebrities with success without minding the fact that some of them have faced legal charges on child abuse such as the late Michael Jackson. In light of these facts, it is important to measure success on elementary levels such as being a successful parent when one can raise a good family and becoming a role model in the society by portraying admirable virtues and characters that can influence the lives of people positively. According to the late Dr. Myles Munroe in his book, “In Pursuit of Purpose: The Key to Personal Fulfillment,” “success is not a matter of making large sums of money; having expensive material possessions and enormous social networks.
It is the completion of purpose for existence before death. It is not the measure of one’s achievement in relation to others but what one has done is relation to what his potential enabled him to do”. For instance, Alexander the Great died at a young age but left an astounding legacy that qualified him as one of the top successful leaders of his generation. Thus, a person must be passionate about what he/she is doing to the extent that it brings him/her joy and fulfillment to attract success which comes with numerous rewards and benefits.
In conclusion, this article focused on success as completion and total fulfillment of purpose or one’s original intent for existence. It comes to light that each person is unique in abilities thereby; life purpose varies from one person to another. Different authors, from Malcolm Gladwell, Robert Lane, David Epstein, Dr. Myles Munroe to Diana Senechal, just to mention a few, have demonstrated the fact that living life should not be a competition. Rather, one should concentrate his/her efforts in excelling in the right area of interest to be successful such as family, business, teaching, leadership, music and politics among others disciplines of life.