Does success set one free?
What do you think is personal success all about?
We state success unlocks doors. Broadens horizons. Pushes the envelope. Shatters glass ceilings.
Success sets you free.
Our favorite professionals may advertise their knowledge and activity just like an Internet connection advertises its bandwidth. Lawyers too busy prosecuting or defending their court cases. Doctors too busy with their patients to spend time with their children on the weekend. Public personalities too popular to change their minds.
Recall that time Michael Jordan took a hiatus from basketball and played professional baseball? They said he would have made an excellent professional if given enough time. Jordan said that baseball was his childhood dream. Even so, in just over a year Jordan was back in basketball. It’s hard not to imagine what Michael Jordan could have achieved if he hadn’t achieved so much so early.
Soon after I started college, I realized something wasn’t quite right about this picture. I spent my first semester studying and researching about LHC for many hours a day. The mind map on my computer was displayed even at 3:00 in the morning, and as this was not the first or tenth occurrence, my roommate remarked by saying something like, “You must be really smart to not need to study.”
I recall being dumbfounded by that statement. It stated my freedom to do long hours of online research was dependent upon my personal success, and students could enjoy life like mine if only they were more intelligent. But you know who else spends a lot of time online doing research? Basement-dwelling high school dropouts, who are — for all their unsung virtues — definitely not any smarter than my peers.
We are constantly evaluated alongside individuals of the same age group, at similar levels of competence, at similar stages in our careers. As the adage goes, to keep up with the group, we need to run just as fast just to stay in place. If your friends are all level 80 then things get especially depressing after you reach level 80. It’s really difficult to restart at level 1 when your friends are already level 80.
However, when I talked to my peers, I frequently found them to have the same ambitions. Four years after graduating from our college, most of the grads planned to work in tech or marketing.
(Now, perhaps it’s possible that college really empowers academic highfliers to use this yen-kroner arbitrage to fulfill their childhood dreams. But in natural sciences studies, this is definitely not the null hypothesis.)
I was older now, and the attitude of teenage years belonged to the past. I formulated a vaguer answer that reflected this maturity: Lest I fail, I vow to live like a failure.
For years, I’ve struggled between my planet-bound serf-ness and the crystal clarity of my superiors’ perspective. Until I was told one day that my human-ness could be of use if I would only leave my home to venture beyond the boundaries of the cosmos i.e, leave my comfort zone and make the most of my potential.
But the most...
(Once our needs for survival and sex are met, succeeding for the sake of succeeding doesn’t sound nearly as motivational. Most of us “just lay back” and let the hard-workers do the heavy lifting for us.)