Archive for February, 2010



Posted by Comments Off on Success


Pot of Gold by tao_zhyn

What makes someone successful? I’ve often thought about this very question and on its surface the question appears to be a relative one. If the term successful is loosely associated with fortune, mass appeal or desirability, as it is commonly thought of, then what is it that brings about this success? I don’t know any "successful" people if the term “success” is defined by wealth or fame or any other criteria vested in the same vein, but I’m curious if there is a common thread that ties this notion of success with the personality, which possesses it. As far as I can tell the successful type has some attraction that enables success in the first instance, however I’m not at all sure if it is somehow inherited or more like a skill acquired through practice? Or is it merely a chance occurrence – something you either have or you don’t, like winning a lottery ticket?

Ostensibly, being successful has a certain desirability or even lofty feel about it and has the connotation of it enabling one to do something meaningful rather than wading through mediocrity and living as a cog in the machine. Perhaps I am idealising success and I am to some degree, because in essence, success is also something much deeper than adoration or idolatry from afar. It can transcend external riches and outside influence by transforming the inner world with a meaningfulness that removes itself from external influence, into an actualised self. However, the success of the type that is metamorphosed into external reality is something that is worshipped and the tangibility of it is much sought after. We needn’t look any further than glamour magazines or to the Hollywood Hills or the current flavour of Rock/Pop Star. We idolise the success of these media machines because they depict the sensuality of success and we can almost taste the fruits of their success, which is more than just wealth, simply by following the latest gossip magazine or headline splashed across the press or nightly news.

So is it something one can achieve with diligent work and persistence or does one by default, gain success because of a favourable genotype? Or is it just plain good luck? If it isn’t just luck, then how much talent and how much personality is weighted in the equation? What is a successful personality? And what does personality have to do with anything? Is it self evident that an optimistic person is more inclined to draw success than a pessimist? Perhaps it isn’t always the case that success favours the optimist, but as a general rule, being optimistic is going to cater to a broader base of would be enablers. Because let’s face it, the in your face success that we so admire from afar, needs other people to validate and endorse the ‘successee’,  to make the success a reality! As far as I can tell, the universe isn’t going to care one way or another if some lone individual is elevated to god status when in the grand scheme of things, a human lifetime is merely a speck on the face of time and less than a speck in the infinite space between nano-seconds. However, in a human perspective, god status is something that certain individuals aspire to, if not the majority, at least in secret. However, on second thought, maybe the Universe does care about that lone individual who becomes the admiration of many and thus a leader in the community. Like a beacon for others to follow in pursuit – a pursuit of the pot of gold that is success and the jackpot on which nature has itself stumbled upon who then wants to replicate the winning formula by passing on the genes that somehow created it. Perhaps it is more than just admiration and envy driving our obsession over magazines, TV, movies and celebrity in general – perhaps it is because we want to study that winning formula and emulate it.

And why wouldn’t we aspire for success when it draws such admiration from lower beings. Who wouldn’t say yes to more money, sex and power? Isn’t that the appeal of celebrity? Isn’t power and influence what appeals to aspiring economic and political  leaders? Isn’t natures pay off for wielding this power and admiration, ultimately the promise of more sex, or at the very least, an elevated attractiveness and sense of worth – an ego boost? However, not everyone can get to such dizzying heights to affect such a status of influence – Why? What set of ingredients allows the blossoming of a success? Are we not created equal? Shouldn’t we be consoled by mediocrity when it has been said that it will be "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than it is for a rich man to enter…" heaven? Although we can just as easily aspire to this type of success, by exercising spiritual pursuits rather than material and whose success offers the reward of being happy and content with who we are and what we have achieved. Moreover, it is by far a much more achievable goal than the majority of us will ever hope in reaching demigod status and having the material success that comes with it. It seems that only a select  few will ever enjoy such abundance as flaunted by the A-listers and elite. However, the offer of fulfilment, life enrichment and success within the spiritual realm does nothing to dissuade us from our idolatry with material success. In a cynical view it could argued that displays of meekness and consolatory tales of the rich being a less fortunate in spiritual matters is merely a ploy to inspire a mindset of submission more than a tale to lift the spirit of the dejected. Perhaps there is some need within us that propels and gravitates us to outward displays of success  It’s not without reason that we should pine with envious eyes at the latest celebrity picture or hang onto the words of some powerful leader or sit in awe by the sermon being delivered at the pulpit of some Mega Church. Yes even the spiritual have been corrupted by the allure of power and success. It is clearly apparent that nature whole heartedly favours social status, which is the domain of the successful.

The natural order favours success with hormonal shifts that heighten sensory pleasure and what is life without pleasure? We’re geared and fine tuned to receive pleasure, our whole being revels in it. It is what drives us. I’ve read somewhere that testosterone levels rise in the successful which may contribute to the sexuality or moreover the desirability of the person with high T. I’m specifically making inference to males and probably being rather sexist by ignoring our female counterparts who are no less worthy of adoration, although it should be noted that another marker for natures favouritism also is a neurotransmitter boost, particularly serotonin, which elevates mood and thus confidence and that is perhaps the more appealing asset in both sexes. But it seems that successful females don’t necessarily have the same appeal that elite alpha males possess. Well in my mind they don’t but I guess that is just the disease of being male – our single-mindedness or is that simple-mindedness? Maybe it isn’t so narrow minded to think that it is usually the male sex that is ultimately competing for the prize of sex and hence why I am biased towards success in the masculine sense, since I am male and have what it is that makes males always in pursuit of sexual gratification. Although I have a bias in my thinking it is probably more to do with the fact  that I am unable to empathise fully with my female brethren no matter how in tune I am to the feminine side of my DNA . However it is worth noting that the same envy that a great many males have, either overtly or in secret to the Alpha male type who seemingly gets a great many more sexual conquests under their belts is not significantly any different to the bitchy envy that many women possess towards their own kind, presumably for the same reasons.

If it seems a little far fetched and making sweeping generalisations then I’d ask any male out there if they didn’t have at least a fleeting thought of admiration in the back of their brains when the whole Tiger Woods scandal broke – “Lucky Bastard” Not in the sense that he got busted but because he can dip his wand in the pool purely on a whim. That there isn’t any shortage of women who’d drop their pants if he’d ask. Morally we may be outraged but on a more primal level we might even be glad that he racked one more up for us mere males. Consider this, after the whole scandal broke it wasn’t too long before emails did their rounds and this is certainly telling of the mindset between the sexes. One email I received from a male was one which depicted a naked model to the left and Tiger Woods on the right with the caption “Just do it” and under the Nike logo, “I did”, and another email I received from a female work colleague was entitled Tiger Shark showing two bikini clad women with Tiger Woods in the background and his head coming out of the water. Doesn’t this suggest that males perceive Tiger Woods as a success while women perceive him as loser. However, I do wonder if women are merely outraged because some of there own just cut someone else’s grass or because they genuinely believe that the whole blame rests entirely on the shoulders of Tiger Woods for succumbing to temptation and straying. I’ll probably never know but from my perspective it is not at all surprising and if I was in the same position I couldn’t say with any certainty that I would’ve acted any differently. Even when considering that to begin with, I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of pulling someone as attractive as his wife. Although I probably wouldn’t have done such a decrepit deed, there is the possibility that I’d fall to a similar base level given the same set of circumstances and having such enormous power at ones disposal would surely play tricks in the mind.

It is intriguing that both male and female elite instil an awe within the general population and we are certainly influenced by their very actions and policies whether it be high fashion, geo politicking or in the high flying corporate world. I think it is fairly commonly understood that high rollers get the babes. Not sure what their female kin gain but with the rise of the Cougar phenomena, I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest something similar – they get the boys?

So if we do indeed adore success because it gives us a higher field in which to play it isn’t surprising that we’ll try and emulate the formula of success, hoping that it is like a virus that will be spread if we subject ourselves to the same rituals or expose ourselves to the same memes. Who doesn’t know someone who doesn’t try and fake it, by buying the right brand of clothing with accessories to match? Yet without the backing of bottomless pockets to woo prospective mates with, then it perhaps all comes to nought, yet people still persist in acquiring the latest consumable that symbolises a level of status that may or may not be founded in reality. And maybe this faking does fool the less savvy or discernable among us from time to time. Perhaps I’m overly simplistic when looking at success and why we appear to be totally engrossed and fascinated by it, which on the face of it, is because it gives us more sex. Although it may be reassuring to believe that we aren’t so superficial it is hardly convincing to suggest that success is somehow a virtuous endeavour and something to achieve merely for the sake of it. It is appealing for some reason other than just the ego boost it provides. Surely it is because it improves our chances to recreate it with our offspring just as nature designed. Our culture is based on symbolism and status. A consumerist society that capitalism revels in and from the get go we are drenched in an environment of fear – the fear of being socially isolated and the ultimate commodity for sale, is that which is guaranteed to produce a  high social standing – success!

Advertisements usurp our consciousness from the minute we are unleashed into this world and they all provoke a sense of wanting based on fear. The vast bulk of advertising jerks at our appetite for sex and all too often, fills our vision with that something which we identify as a symbol of success and in doing so, defining who we want to be and the image we wish to portray. Complete with a promise of fulfilling our natural tendency to be desirable and have attention drawn in our direction. But as it turns out, it is never fulfilled because whilst whispering sweet nothings in our ears it at the same time suggests we aren’t all we can be and ultimately the object we thought would fill us with joy and happiness is merely a temporal snapshot. We then move onto the next object to project our moulded self image – perpetually caught in the seduction but never able to achieve what it is we want. This happens from minute to minute, day by day and hour to hour, as long as we are within easy reach of the puppet masters strings. Yet we buy the deception whole heartedly even though deep down we know we are merely distracting ourselves from who we really are. It seems futile yet there is a method to this madness, because what we are truly doing, is trying to position ourselves in the pecking order, which is in direct opposition to the higher ideals we may hold, that man is created equal. We are lead to believe that we all share the same humanity but this is not really what we feel inside. We are a competitive species and part and parcel of competition is that there will be both winners and losers and if you’re on the winning team then you reap the glory while the loser wallows in misery.

Perhaps it is precisely this part of nature that compels us to succeed because if we don’t then we may very well wither and die. Everything we do and everywhere we go, we will always be a part of the strategy nature has woven for us. We may very well just be strands in the threads of her design but we do all play a part in it all sticking together and that is perhaps the measure of our success, if we can just hold on before the thread frays and even if a loose end snaps off, it’ll at least be comforting to know that for a time it was a part of something far bigger.

Category : Rants | Blog