Success

What, exactly, is ‘successful’ and why is it so much more valuable than ‘contented’? I’m confused about the purpose of the word. Is it a socialized expectation, is there a bar or line or quotient beyond which one becomes a successful person? I know lots of doctors, and lots of scientists, and lots of historians and business people, but none of them are Louis Pasteurs or Adam Smiths or even Dr. Phils, that last one being just shy of a quack but widely regarded as a successful human being. Maybe success is defined by liquid assets, condos and shares, equity and such? General Butt Naked, the Liberian warlord, could arguably be classified as successful. He killed over 20,000 people, engaged in numerous acts of child cannibalism, and yet, is somehow poised to retake a position of influence over an entire country. That position of influence includes a great deal of mineral wealth and power on a scale of, literally, life and death decision making over the population. Sounds pretty goddamn close to what most of us regard as a successful career: power, wealth, influence, freedom of action. Actually, freedom of action is probably the closest to true success, but before you offer up an argument that freedom is posterior to wealth and power, or, that monetary gain and political power are precede and result in greater freedom and are therefore inextricably tied to objective measures of success – there are just as many examples of individuals without wealth and power who enjoy freedom of action as there are with.  What is success and where does it live? Perhaps success is self defined? Haha, I didn’t think so either.

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