Redefining Success – What Alain De Botton Taught Me

by Shenron on September 2, 2009

Society has shaped our perspective of the world in more ways than we’d like to admit. And at some point or another, your career has had you doubt your purpose in the world and your ranking in the social ladder because of something someone has said. But just because you’re not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company does not mean, as many would like you to believe, that you’re not successful.

The goals for success as we think of them differ between everybody and as Alain De Botton, a speaker at the most recent TED conference (Technology, Education, and Design Conference), puts it; We must not let others define what success and failure are because if we let them, we’d all end up being failures and “losers.”

Redefining Success Redefining Success   What Alain De Botton Taught Me

Botton talks about the reasons that many of us experience crises in our life relating to our careers and jobs. Those times where we feel inadequate and that we haven’t done something better with our lives are actually not our own doing but rather the product of someone else. Snobbery as Botton explains is when someone judges your entire character based on a small piece of information they gather in the first few minutes of meeting you. At parties when you explain to others what it is you do you may either be greeted with respect and admiration or a nasty look and a dead conversation. This tid-bit of information, our careers, do not, as Botton puts it, define our level of success. Some may think it does but those people are inevitably snobs.

In the past few years things have really gotten out of control in terms of judging our own self worth. Everyone has been pestered with ideas of not being good enough and while people have been putting themselves down for centuries, now we live in a culture where we’re told anything is possible. But that just simply isn’t true. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, many people are unable to ever break free of their social means and ultimately, cannot ever become a doctor. But because all of the magazines, books, and TV shows that filter into our lives every day show “ordinary” people doing not so ordinary things, we’re led to believe that if they can do it so can we. And when we never achieve that level of “success” that they did, we feel as though we’re a failure.

But we’re not all failures. Remember that. No one is good at everything. Everyone is good at something and bad at other things and just because your name isn’t plastered on the front of the New York Times doesn’t mean that you’re in any way inadequate, it just means that whatever that thing someone else is good at is not the same thing that you’re good it. Redefine your levels of self worth and determine what it is that makes you happy and unique, not what you’re told you should be. Only then can you be truly successful.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: