Uncertain Success

Wikipedia defines success here:


Success may mean, but is not limited to:


This definition seems like the entry level version of success and is pretty easy to cheat.  Since there’s no definition of maximum possible success, then I’m going to interpret one of my own.  

Consider this Maximum Possible Success:

  • A lifetime achievement of objective/goal
  • Achieving highest social status
  • Exceeding all other personal successes
  • Exceeding unparalleled successes of objective/goal by others with the same objective/goals

How does a person achieve Maximum Possible Success?  

What are the prerequisites to this epic achievement?  

I’ve become convinced that there are some vital ingredients (based from Gladwell and lesswrong.com):

  1. Passion / Confidence
    • You must be willing to drop everything else in life besides obtaining this goal.  
    • You must be among the best possible persons for the task.  
    • You must persevere in the face of all adversity
  2. Time (Youth) – You must start as early as possible. 
  3. Health – You must have enough energy to accomplish your goals
  4. Luck (External factors beyond your control) – You had better be luckier than everyone else.

Why do I define success in this way?  Why does society reinforce this image of success?

In some sense, there is a sadness and lonliness that comes with achieving this great success.  The lonliness comes, perhaps, as a byproduct of the labors involved and from being mentally unable to identify with the norm.  If a person’s greatest accomplishment in personal and societal life is to have his whole being serve a singluar purpose, does that not make him a tool?  Why does society value the dehumanization of “great” persons?

There seems to be a inevitable slant, perhaps a psychological inclination, to glamorize success and ignore failure.  In a single human mind, doing so is a defensive mechanism.  The media, the hive mind, society, some collective of many human minds, are all just human minds and they react no differently than any other “unqualified” individual.  I see our definition of success has been refined and reinforced in an infinite loop between the individual and the collective.

Confucious said:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.


The Collective dictates:

A job you love may not provide you with an adequate income.


Why is the collective given so much power to dictate inevitable unhappiness?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bytex64
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 10:00:36

    I say:Choose a job you love, and you will eventually learn to hate it.


  2. Anonymous
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 10:14:54

    Cynical, but I like it


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