Inspirational talks are everywhere. They talk about success formulas. A list of do and don’ts that if followed, you equally become a success story. That got me thinking, in an ideal world, can everyone be successful?
At the very foundation the answer to that question depends on definitions. What’s success? Is it becoming a dollar billionaire? Or millionaire? Is it operating businesses across several continents? Is it becoming the best in any particular field? For example being the best footballer like Lionel Messi, or the best actor like Rami Malek, or is it just being happy no matter your lack of fame or money?
The examples have already made it very hard to define what success is. Oxford English Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. Going by this definition, it is clear that in some respect not everyone can be successful. For example, the aim and purpose of every athlete is to be the best in the competition – to be number 1. Let’s take marathon.
In marathon there could be a 100 runners each with the aim, goal or purpose of emerging number one in the race, but as we all know, only one person can emerge number one. However, if the aim and purpose of the athletes were to finish the race, and all of them finish the race, then loosely someone may term all of them successful.
But it is not just the definition of success that makes it impossible for everyone to be successful. When I googled “can everyone be successful”, I landed on this answer by Rajan Sheth, who after agreeing that ideally everyone can be successful, provided success criteria as follows:
1. Having clarity on your goal and avoiding vagueness. For example, you need to ask yourself if you want to be the top most rated dancer globally, but avoid a vague goal like wanting to be a great dancer.
2. Always train to achieve that goal. In this criteria, Sheth uses Lionel Messi as an example. Messi once said, ““It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.”.
Up to this point it is obviously clear not everyone can be successful. Imagine some 100 young children who equally want to be as successful as Lionel Messi, set up their goal as per the first criteria, then invest equal amount of time, work, effort, training, and determination. It is obvious that only one of them can be the best even if they were to compete just amongst themselves. At the same time, at least one of them will be at the bottom of the rank.
3. Take action. This criteria is definitely repetitive. Once you are learning/training as per criteria 2 above, you have already taken action. However, you must take action throughout until you have accomplished your goal.
4. Believe. You must believe that you will be successful. This is particularly useful because aiming for your goal will come with a lot and a lot of setbacks – sometimes setbacks that send you back to the drawing board – or even further back.
5. Determination and Commitment – This is basically a wrap up of all the above steps.
Clearly, not everyone can follow those guidelines, even if we were to magically disappear from this world and appear in an ideal one. The level of hard work required in order to be successful in all but one field (the field of pure luck), the amount of training needed to be the best at what you and several others want to achieve, the amount of faith you must maintain throughout the obstacles, and the level of determination and commitment required, means many people will obviously fall along the way – and only the few who maze through the challenges will become successful.
The purpose of this article is to drive the point that listening to those inspirational talks, reading a lot of the motivational books, and doing Yoga will not take you from failure to success. Knowing this, you can therefore decide to follow the successful formula hoping that at the end of the day, only you and a few others can achieve the great success that comes with sacrifice, hard work, determination and will power.
In answering the question, can everyone be successful, Matt Steffen said, “Absolutely not. No matter what you picture as success, there is a pyramid with very few people at the top of achieving that success, and far more people toward the bottom who are striving for that success, and the majority of them will never reach it.”
“After all, if there wasn’t a great deal of competition for the average person’s idea of success, anyone could achieve it and I wouldn’t even be a thing worth mentioning.It would just be something everybody gets, like a heart or oxygen, and no one would ever ask ‘is it possible for everyone to get oxygen'” – he explained.
To Eliud Kipchoge, may you be successful this weekend.