A Worthwhile Life or a Successful Life?
I know a fair number of successful people. To be honest, I don’t really know many who aren’t in the upper middle demographic and above — anymore. That’s partially because I grew up in that demographic and still retain some of my connections from it, and it’s partially because the way I speak and interact draws that demographic to me. Like draws like.
Most of these people don’t read, and they certainly don’t read articles on how to be successful. So why is that they they have been financially successful. I think we can be clear here, that when we speak about being successful, we are speaking about being financially successful.
Reasons they have been successful.
- Most of them, if not all of them, have had either a private school education, or they have a university degree, or they inherited enough money to start a business. In other words, they started from third base.
- A percentage of them were really good reps, and they built a very successful career through sales. They tended to have a high school education, and that was it.
- They all had reasonable people skills, meaning that they could talk to someone politely. By no means were all of them charming.
- They had the right opportunities at the right time.
In the half century since we left high school, the baby boomers I know have done very well for themselves. Of course, I know of a few failures — myself included.
My point is that these people succeeded, not because they were actively working at improving their character, learning leadership skills, or investing in reading four books a week in order to learn what Gates and Bezos are doing, but because the time was right!
According to the most recent report from the Kauffman Foundation, the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America shifted a few years ago to the Boomer age group, compared to Gen-X (1965 to 1980) and Gen-Y (1981 to 1995). Today people over 55 are almost twice as likely to create successful startups as those ages 20 to 34. Source.
More than 80% of Baby Boomers launch ventures as a lifestyle choice or to boost income. These boomer entrepreneurs are primarily choosing to start businesses because it allows them to be independent (32%), pursue their interests and passions (27%) or increase their income (24%). [Gallup] Source.
The Economics of the 60s and 70s.
If you were in any way keen to set up a business or you were ambitious in the 60s and 70s, there was little competition. You could do so with ease. That is why so many baby boomers did so well.
It’s easy to achieve something if there is a solid infrastructure to help you get there — free or inexpensive education, government hand-outs if you’re struggling, lots of jobs available so that you never have financial stress, etc. None of these people had to develop themselves to become ‘successful.’
The economic structure of the time they were born into carried them. That economic structure has been destroyed by conservative politices and business greed. So now people are desperately trying to figure out how to be financially successful.
Trust me, it has nothing to do with your ability or character or habits. You’re probably better than my generation ever were.
What is a Successful Life?
I know that there are those who will tell you that a successful life has nothing to do with money, but it’s simply not true. Whenever you read about anyone in the media being successful, they have always achieved some level of achievement either in position or financial reward.
You show me a beggar or someone poor who has been called successful. I think we should stop striving for a successful life and start striving towards a worthwhile life.
A Worthwhile Life?
For me, a worthwhile life is one that means that not only are we happy, but we are actively contributing to the community in ways that makes living wonderful for everybody. It would mean that there would be no poverty, and everybody would be able to live a decent life. These are worthwhile goals to strive for, but they can only be achieved collectively when everybody is working in tandem towards the same goal.
When people are competing with each other for the same resources, and where there are generally only a few winners, everybody else loses. While these winners are currenty greatly admired by billions of people, the truth is that there is nothing much to admire about our communities. Earth is in a sad state.
All those articles about how to be successful are missing the point. I think they should be giving us ideas about how to work collectively to fix up the tremendous problems we currently have on earth — like climate change and the spread of zoonotic disease.
What say you?