03 Desember 2010

What is the meaning of success?

Everybody has their own dream to achieve. When they can achieve it, they feel as a successful person. Others may think differently. When they are superior or more prosper than anyone, they think they are successful person.
Commonly, people agreed that a successful person is someone who struggle harder and achieve more than everyone. In a simple word, he/she is the best of the best.

The statement above seems make us believe that success completely rely on someone's struggle and quality. Few weeks ago I was pretty sure with that statement, until I read this book:


As I remember, I haven't read any psychology or motivation book since I was in high school. Because I think the contents are typical and it will be more effective if we learn it from the real life. And when I entered college, I realized that I can learn the content of that psychological-motivation book from organizational activities.

"Outliers" possibly my first psychology-motivation book I have ever read after a long time. Actually, I know this book along with its other series (Blink & Tipping Point) which written by Malcolm Gladwell. I ever see them at bookstore. But, as I mentioned before, I think all kind of this book are typical. So, how can I read this "Outliers"?

It was started when I participated in a leadership training, PKPS 8. There, I have a session that lectured by Mr. Ridwan Kamil, an architect, lecturer, and creative-innovative thinker. He suggested this book to all participant in the class. Eager to read this book, I decided to buy it.

I don't want to say that "Outliers" is a wonderful or marvelous book. But I admit that this book really gives me a new perspective in interpreting "success". Some said success is determined by personal skill, knowledge, and struggle. That statement isn't wrong. But there is another thing that should be considered.


A successful person meet chance(s) and cleverly turn that chance into a success. Of course I didn't say that it was a fortune (though in the beginning I thought this book told about fortune). It means, we should utilise a chance whenever we get it. Those chances can be a birthdate, a family where we born in, a city where we grown up, or maybe a culture that associated to a nation. Still confused? Here is an example:

Imagine that you were born in a farmer family. You were grown up in an atmosphere where working hard was honored and you were trained to accurately calculate the planting season, amount of seed to be planted, and amount of water to water the field. Automatically you have already a basic skill of mathematician. And grown up with that kind of family gives you chance to be a scientist.

And I think this world is plenty with chances that waiting to be utilise by us.
I assume we are trees in the forest of chance. We use many things inside this forest to be a successful person. Thus, success is not only determined by ourself, it also influenced by our environments. As the author of this book also mentioned it. He conveyed it in a smart way (and this is my favorite words in this book). Here it is:

"Biologists often talk about “ecology” of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not only because it grew from the hardiest acorn but also, it is the tallest because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But do we know enough about the sunlight that warned them, the soil in which they put down the roots, the rabbits and lumberjacks they were lucky enough to avoid?"

Still curious about this book?


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