The Way the World Works

I’ve been thinking about why I expect to succeed in something I put a lot of time and energy into, and have realized a few things.

I learned from a young age that with hard work and maybe a little bit of luck (right place, right time kind of stuff), you (meaning me obviously) WILL be successful. If you’re not, it’s because you need to work harder or longer, or both. I viewed success as the predetermined outcome of an equation that could be performed.

So many books have been written by successful people, and have been read by so many more people, so why isn’t everyone successful?

Because that’s not how the world works.

Working harder, smarter, or being more talented doesn’t guarantee anything. No one actually knows a proven method for success because it doesn’t exist. In reality, priviledge and luck play a much larger factor than most of us realize. Where we are born, our economic status, the color of our skin, gender, and many other factors give some of us a major headstart and even put some people right before the “finish line” of success.

A few people will also get lucky and rise up from being underpriviledged, but not everyone can succeed that way. So many success stories begin with someone having parents who worked multiple jobs to support their children, and that’s great for the children who learn a good work ethic and are able to benefit from that opportunity. But what about the parents? Is their success determined or measured by the success of their offspring?

I guess what I’m learning is that having goals and measuring progress can be useful tools. But ultimately, how we gauge success (or whether or not something is “worth doing”) can only be measured internally by our own level of satisfaction in doing that thing.

Does that thing make us happy? If it does, is that what makes it worth doing? Is happiness the ultimate goal? What about money, fame, power, legacy, or influence? How do we decide what’s important?

How do we know what will make us happy or ultimately satisfied, when we’re old enough to look back at our lives and wonder if anything we did matters? This is the question that drives me. I’ll let you know the answer if blogs are still a thing in 50 years.