As human beings we roam this earth trying to make sense of our lives in the environment that we live in. We have to contend with societal norms, rules and regulations, what is wrong and what is right within the specific confines of the applicable laws of the land. Fitting in and being accepted is not easy because everyone is trying to be above the other, directly or indirectly creating such a hostile environment of competition hence the saying ‘survival of the fittest’.
There is so much that has been written on the topic of success. Success is envied and there is great aspiration by both individuals and organisations to achieve it. It is therefore no wonder that so much attention has been paid to it. Does the fact that success is synonymous with power make it even more precious to be sought for? How is success achieved and sustained, and what lessons can be learned from those who have ‘been there and done that.
The word ‘success’ when uttered is perceived in so many various ways as it means differently from person to person and from organisation to organisation. To some the word success brings joy, to others it brings fear and for some it is taboo when associated with accumulation of wealth since money is viewed as the root of evil. However, Edwards (2007) stipulates that “money itself is just information moving about in a system…and it is needed in order to acquire the things we need to live normal, healthy lives.” Then, there are those who do not even give success a second thought at all.
Abraham Maslow, in his model of Hierarchy of Needs indicates that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs and therefore strive to achieve them. What is the secret to success and is there a formula that fits all? This paper is an addition to the statistics on the volumes of papers, articles and books that have been written on the topic of success with a view to understanding further the quest for man’s desire to succeed.
Definition of Success
As stated above, the word ‘success’ has different meanings to people or organizations depending on the desires and goals one wants to achieve. However for the sake of coherence of this paper it is pertinent to have one or two working definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary (British and World English) the word success has its origins in the Latin word ‘successus’ meaning ‘come close after’. However the English definition of success is as follows:
“It means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status; a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc.; or the good or bad outcome of an undertaking.”
Bennett (2006) is more comprehensive in that he has incorporated most of what people think on the subject. He has defined ‘success’ as:
“Living your dream every day with passion, having true wealth and knowing that there is more that you need. Learning appreciation, gratitude and positively influencing the lives of others in some way. Achieving true happiness by having loved ones with whom to share it all.”
Bennett continues to say that success is a game of chance over which one has control.
Triggers for Success
Napoleon Hill in Chapter 2 of his book Think and Grow Rich emphasizes on having the burning desire to win as the first step to success and that our limitations are only those set up in our minds. However the desire to win does not just happen on its own, it is generated from somewhere. Some of the contributing factors could be change, frustration of the status quo, need to feel important, poverty, self improvement and responsibilities, just to mention a few. In this case the position or circumstance that one is in becomes so unbearable that the only option is to seek or look for something better.
A good example would be my own case that after working in the same position for over twenty years I became frustrated and in the spirit of self development I embarked on a journey to find something more meaningful and that was to enroll for the Bachelor of Business Management & Entrepreneurship programme, with a desire to start my own business after completion of training.