What Is Success?

Success – 'The bitch-godess, Success,' in William James's phrase – demands strange sacrifices from those who worship her.

- Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies (1927), 'A Note on Ideals'

Podcast of the Day

If someone asks you, "What caused your success (in finance, your career, etc.)?" what probably comes to mind for you is a story about how you worked hard and made smart choices. Which is likely true -- but what you don't see are all the people who also worked hard and made smart choices, but didn't succeed because luck wasn't on their side.

In this episode, Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. They explore questions like: Why do we discount the role of luck in success? Has luck become more important in recent years? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?

Listen to the Rationally Speaking episode on Success and Luck

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...We analyzed the data several ways, and three findings consistently emerged. First, the more successful participants had higher cognitive ability, more educated parents and better impulse control. People scoring in the top half on our intelligence measure whose parents had college degrees earned more awards, made more money and were more educated than those scoring below average whose parents lacked college degrees...

Continue reading Chabris and Hart's article: How Not to Explain Success

Further Reading

Religion underlay much of nineteenth-century success literature, just as it infused American political discourse and thought. Early-nineteenth-century advice manuals and stories for the young warned of the temptations of worldly-mindedness and material riches, exhibiting a deep ambivalence that reflected the Puritan orientation toward worldly success. As new opportunities for material acquisition arose with the expansion of commerce, industry, transportation networks, markets, and communication, literature turned increasingly toward the world. Embracing worldly success, however, did not mean simply praising economic success and social advancement. The literature dealing with success was engaged in assessing what values and persons deserved to prosper...

Continue reading the encyclopedia.com article on Success

Bonus Webcomic

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