The modern world has a way of doing things, that is, modern man has his own particular view on how things should look. That view is completely different from the perspectives upheld by those who came before us, so to say. Like the ancient Greeks were obsessed with performing heroic deeds, or medieval European Christians with martyrdom and upholding saintly principles, we can argue that modern man has an obsession with success. Or more precisely, one aspect of that new worldview is to compare people between each other through the notion of success.
In a way, the beginning of the 21st century is preoccupied with the concept of success more than ever before, both individual and collective. That fact can is seen in many aspects of our daily lives, people are not just oppressed with celebrities and successful people they want to live that lifestyle or achieve some sort of greatness. Looking at the current state of things one is encouraged to analyze the situation further and to find the reason behind these phenomena, or at least to offer a new perspective on worldwide trend.
What Makes a Person Successful?
There are many ways a person can be successful. Most people will think of celebrities, politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, etc. They will think of someone who is known the world over because of the thing they do, the thing they are good at. That’s all fine, but there are successful people who do not like to be celebrities and there are, most definitely, celebrities who cannot count as successful people.
What then makes a successful person? Is it how they do things? Is it what they get in return? Is it in the number of things they can amass in their life? Most of those things can count as some part of our overall image of such a person. But, how can we define it? What is it actually?
What I like is simple answers, they are usually correct and the most practical at the same time. Even though not all answers can be simple, this one is. When you look up the word success in any dictionary you will find that it is considered an accomplishment of an aim or a purpose.
Surely people were able to accomplish an aim or a pulpous in their lifetimes, even several, before the 21st century. Why is it that this noun has such relevance for the classification of people in this age?
History of Success
If we take a look at history, as I mentioned before, we can see that every age has a different occupation. When we talk about the ancient Egyptians, we do not talk about single individuals who made this country so great we talk about the collective in general. But also, we do not know the names of the people who actually accomplished the construction of the pyramid we remember the person who ordered it and did nothing to build it.
Sometimes when I think about all the great artists whose names I do not know, that built humanity in the name of kings, it seems as if it was forbidden for individuals to be famous if they were not born into some sort of noble family.
That drastically changed with the return of democracy to Europe and the liberation from the old-world view that separated people into casts, genders, and races. The new perspective born from revolutions gave every man the right to control their destiny and therefore the right to become successful, to achieve one’s dreams and ideals. Celebrating success can be seen as a collective celebration of the boundless human potential to do incredible things. Is it always so shiny? Or is there a dark side to the story?
Can Success Harm us?
We all know that being successful has its price and the people on the top can often be alone, because of the many sacrifices they had to make to get there. There are also countless examples of people who have achieved success professionally but their health and social lives fail because they cannot handle the strain that comes with maintaining that image of perfection that is expected of them.
Then there is also the psychological pressure any person can experience when they become obsessed with succeeding in the things they do. This emotion can cause such discomfort for people that they can freeze in key moments when they should be at the top of their game. Not to mention the depression some people experience when they come in contact with the images of people that exist on social media. There is a lot in being successful that we put under the carpet, or we just consider it as part of the game, something that we should bear. It does not have to be that way.
People are made to be in a group and therefore everything they do they should do for each other; however, this fact of human existence has also been a breeding ground for nationalism and other group-oriented ideologies that made the 20th century so dark. The striving to be successful, the best, the most dominant will make people perform incredible and inspiring things but it will also make them give legitimacy to the worst monstrosities. How do we draw the line between the good and bad aspect of wanting individual and collective success?
Maybe we should stop looking at success as part of domination and make it part of what makes us authentic as human beings. What do I mean? If we start celebrating everyday people when they express themselves or make something that is fulfilling for them and makes other people grow we will support others to develop this aspect of their humanity and not concentrate on domination and subordination. We should support the celebration of collective endeavors that strive to enhance the human race as a whole and not adore individual examples as if they were the meaning of life.
The secret to success is not in money and fame, but in reaching that feeling of fulfillment when you know you have accomplished something that truly matters to you and other people around you. Dreaming big and then having it, it’s not impossible.