Welcome to Debate Club! Please be aware that this is a space for respectful debate, and that your ideas will be challenged here. Please remember to critique the argument, not the author.

What determines how your life will be?

ReenieHJ
ReenieHJ Posts: 8,600 Member
I hope this can remain nonpolitical so it stays but lately I've been thinking a lot about how our lives turn out, what it takes individually to 'make something of ourselves' versus 'blaming our childhood/environment, etc., etc.'

Is our success rooted in our family's ties, origins, family's successes, or does coming from poverty, abuse, etc., create a more challenging and/or impossible likelihood of being successful in life. I guess another question would be what is your definition of success?

I've been lucky enough to know people that were raised in less than fortunate circumstances yet rise above all their challenges to be happy. But I also know a couple people who choose to blame the world, and their childhood, for every single thing that happens to them.

One celebrity that comes to mind right off, is Oprah Winfrey. But I know there are many many who have risen above and beyond, despite rough childhoods.

Just interested in people's perspective is all. :) How far does our beginning in life go towards creating who we are? And what other factors do you feel come into play?
«13456

Replies

  • Mellouk89
    Mellouk89 Posts: 402 Member
    edited November 2021
    It comes down to personality traits and genetics. The phrase anyone can succeed is funny, someone with an IQ of 85 can never become a lawyer no matter how hard he tries. Intellectual capabilities are not evenly distributed in the population.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 945 Member
    I think our environment and how we were raised most definitely has an impact on how successful we are. I think how we are parented may have an even more important role than physical circumstances of our upbringing. It influences how healthy we are (physically and mentally) and character traits tied to success such as perseverance/resilience, empathy, self-control, curiosity, and integrity. These traits are just as important (if not more so) more important than doing "well" academically. Of course, people who are born and raised in more advantageous circumstances (and in that I also include ethnicity and even gender) may automatically have more opportunities for so-called better education, better-paying jobs, not to mention better housing etc., that we often equate with an outward appearance of "success."
    What people who come from what most might consider more disadvantaged backgrounds have vs. those who don't is plenty of opportunities to build and cultivate resilience. Resilience is a hugely important trait when it comes to not only "success," but mental health as well. That's not saying that it wasn't and isn't way harder for those who have many more obstacles to overcome than those who don't, and I think it's ok for those people to acknowledge how hard it is/was. I also think it's understandable why people who come from more disadvantaged backgrounds to struggle more with things like better education, better-paying jobs, health (weight included) and addiction, for example. However, I think kind of the opposite of resilience is getting stuck in that "woe is me" attitude and blaming everything and everyone and not making attempts to move ahead.
  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,586 Member
    I also think we have to differentiate between personal success and professional success.

    I know too many people who have achieved great professional success, but they admit that their personal life is a disaster.

    They would still describe themselves as "successful" because they have a good job, a lot of money, and a big house.

    But, if it were me, I wouldn't consider my LIFE as a success unless I was healthy, happy, and engaged in good relationships.
  • Slacker16
    Slacker16 Posts: 1,183 Member
    A distinction no one seems to have made so far is whether we're talking individually or statistically.

    To give a non-political (at least for the past 1400 years) example of the difference, the empress Theodora started life as an... entertainer, to sanitize it for mfp (a child entertainer from a modern perspective, to be specific) and became arguably the most powerful woman of her time... but I hope I don't need to justify that, statistically speaking, your birth was rather an important thing back in the 6th century...
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 945 Member
    Mellouk89 wrote: »
    It comes down to personality traits and genetics. The phrase anyone can succeed is funny, someone with an IQ of 85 can never become a lawyer no matter how hard he tries. Intellectual capabilities are not evenly distributed in the population.

    I have seen numerous stories of adults with Down Syndrome (who would be considered "intellectually disabled" by measuring their IQ's) who are successful in terms of owning their own businesses, getting married, modeling and working in professions that they love. Seems like they succeeded at doing what they wanted to do, despite having low IQ's. Having a high IQ doesn't guarantee any kind of professional success either, especially if they struggle with skills not measured by a standard IQ test (which is actually relatively common in those with measured high IQ's).
  • Mellouk89
    Mellouk89 Posts: 402 Member
    Mellouk89 wrote: »
    It comes down to personality traits and genetics. The phrase anyone can succeed is funny, someone with an IQ of 85 can never become a lawyer no matter how hard he tries. Intellectual capabilities are not evenly distributed in the population.

    Having a high IQ doesn't guarantee any kind of professional success either, especially if they struggle with skills not measured by a standard IQ test (which is actually relatively common in those with measured high IQ's).

    I never said it did.

    I was talking about professional because the defnition of success is so vague it has yet to be defined here. So my post was about professional success.
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,074 Member
    I know a lot of the values I have toward education, money and work came from my parents in childhood. As soon as it became apparent that I was going to do well academically the message was "you are going to university". There were no other options. I was taught to save from a very young age (half my allowance had to go in the bank). There were no handouts, I started working part-time when I was 14, even earlier if you count babysitting. I had to pay for my own university education although my parents could easily afford it. I did drop out halfway through first year because I was questioning whether I was there because I genuinely wanted to be there, or because I'd heard it all my life. I got a full-time job and quickly figured out that I did want something different for the rest of my career so I did go back and finish university. I worked my *kitten* off back then, part-time job year round then added a full-time job in summers. I was thrilled to graduate and just work one job, Monday to Friday. Since I work for a large organization there are a number of roles I'm qualified for and eventually I found my niche. I LOVE MY JOB. I could have moved up the ranks and, years ago, I was being nudged up the ranks, but I didn't enjoy the work. I didn't like that feeling of dreading every workday. So I've stayed where I am. Maybe I'm seen as "less successful" because I'm not up there in management now but my happiness is more important to me. And, because of the value of saving that was instilled in me, I'm in a financial position where I don't need the higher-paying job.

    I don't know where kids who never see the possibilities for their future acquire ambition though. If your family doesn't value education, why would you be motivated to put in the effort at school? If hardly anyone in your family even finished high school, how are you ever going to dream of post-secondary education? And sure, maybe those kids will grow up to be content with the job they end up in, when they could have been happier and more fulfilled had they had the opportunity to go in a different direction.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 319 Member
    Most peoples 'success' is determined by what other people think.
    Likes on a social media page and what your job title and relationship status is.
    Not forgetting your bank balance and how much 'stuff' you own.
    Validation is 'success'

  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 8,600 Member
    ninerbuff wrote: »
    I believe it's subjective because "success" means different things to people. For some it's money, some relationships, some meeting a lifelong goal (say climbing Mt. Everest), etc.

    While I believe that anyone can achieve what they want that's reasonable, HOW hard it is for them varies. For some it comes easy and for others, they may struggle.

    I worked in sales organizations where all they thought about was money and that was the sign of their success. I worked long hard hours and really didn't enjoy that much, but did it for 12 years because I thought money defined me.

    Later, I decided to go after my passion........health and fitness. And that's what I do today. I LOVE MY JOB. The hours I put in don't seem hard or crazy even though I may work 45 hour a week or more. I'm not rich doing it, but I live within my means and am quite happy. Stress is super low and I come to work enthusiastic every day. How many people can really say they totally love what they do for a living?

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

    That, right there, would be part of how I'd define success. Loving what you do and doing what you love. Making enough money to pa the bills with a bit left over would help as well. Having the love and respect of family and friends makes life worth living. But it all needs to come together and be the glue that defines success. I guess in a nutshell success could be defined as contentment with your life.
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 8,600 Member
    Most peoples 'success' is determined by what other people think.
    Likes on a social media page and what your job title and relationship status is.
    Not forgetting your bank balance and how much 'stuff' you own.
    Validation is 'success'

    Interesting point. I think a certain amount of validation helps create a circle of support to motivate or inspire a person but really isn't or shouldn't be what it currently has come to be, to define success. :( We pay way too much attention to things that don't matter in our lives, such as all the media influencers, etc. But more towards validation from loved ones. And even then, we need to know(for ourselves) where to draw that line.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 319 Member
    ReenieHJ wrote: »
    Most peoples 'success' is determined by what other people think.
    Likes on a social media page and what your job title and relationship status is.
    Not forgetting your bank balance and how much 'stuff' you own.
    Validation is 'success'

    Interesting point. I think a certain amount of validation helps create a circle of support to motivate or inspire a person but really isn't or shouldn't be what it currently has come to be, to define success. :( We pay way too much attention to things that don't matter in our lives, such as all the media influencers, etc. But more towards validation from loved ones. And even then, we need to know(for ourselves) where to draw that line.

    Validation in the form of social media is addictive.
    I'm not judging anyone that uses it as like you say a tool to motivate or inspire - but it's mostly ego boosting bragging that usually only has a small element of truth in it.
    Every time I Google someone I know well their online persona is usually hugely exaggerated.
    They're always really 'successful' in their bios.
    If we were to have honest social media then most people would just be ordinary - and that's OK!
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,282 Member
    my idea of success is not being the most senior or top position in my proffession or having the most money or the most things.

    It is doing a job I like and that I am good at and do my best in and having a loving family and friends and contributing to my community and having a happy productive life.

    those things are influenced by our upbringing too - a loving supportive family and the support and mental capacity to have occupational options in life and money handling skills - makes it easier to have this success than somebody who has poor relationship models and impacts of childhood trauma, for example

    But I don't consider somebody who is CEO of a big company to be more successful than somebody who works in a low paying job that they like and do well and both or neither could have successful personal lives.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 2,969 Member
    Just five things that I strongly believe influence success in anything.

    I read a fantastic book by Jo Boaler called Limitless Mind. Most people look at the book and believe that it's geared toward teaching. It's actually a book on how your mind learns and how it's "limitless" if you believe that you learn from mistakes, welcome mistakes and learning plateaus, understand you will get through it eventually, learn collaboratively and believe that you can do it. Should be required reading for every teacher and high school student because it applies to life and it's all science based.

    Years ago, they did a study with kids and followed them for years. The ability to put off instant gratification was the highest trait in those with the most success. That's something that's sorely lacking in today's parenting. We give kids (immediately) whatever the hell they want. That's actually child abuse in my honest opinion. You're setting your kids up for failure. Teach them, instead, good things come with sacrifice, hard work and patience. Make them wait on things. Don't hand them cell phones at 2.

    Stanford University did a study years ago following people that did goal planning versus those that didn't. Those that did were widely more successful than those that didn't following them for around a decade (I believe). I've always been a strong believer in five year planning. Start with where you want to be and work backward. Franklin Planner seminars are great. Panda Planner is also a wonderful tool.

    A support structure starting with parenting. Present parenting. Enough said. Give your kids at least a moral compass for starters. A strong community structure can certainly replace parents that aren't there.

    Ability to communicate. And, I believe, this can be learned. My wife wasn't particularly good at school (she was dyslexic and it never got diagnosed). In adulthood, she's learned to spell, studied vocabulary, even taken up a lot of reading. I was a terrible/petrified public speaker. I joined Toastmasters and learned to communicate in front of others. After five years, I was the best speaker in my club. I was horrific to start and that's not an exaggeration.

    I'm sure there's more but one other that comes to mind (I see this all the time as a high-level recruiter for over two decades) -- conflict resolution skills. I don't know where these went, but they are sorely, sorely needed in business. It's the most common ability I see lacking in the workforce, whether it's laziness, no one has ever taught them, intentional avoidance or immaturity. But people cannot address difficult decisions and confront others and tell them honestly and openly how they feel and that's a real shame. That's how things progress.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,282 Member
    You make some good points there Mike.

    But I disagree with this: Stanford University did a study years ago following people that did goal planning versus those that didn't. Those that did were widely more successful than those that didn't following them for around a decade (I believe). I've always been a strong believer in five year planning. Start with where you want to be and work backward. Franklin Planner seminars are great. Panda Planner is also a wonderful tool.


    Well l dont disagree that they did a study - but I wonder what their criteria for 'more successful' were.
    Obviously a subjective term

    and I have a huge dislike of 5 year planning - I think a go with the flow and make decisions according to what happens in life is much better than having a formal 5 year plan.
    My absolute pet hate is workplace appraisals that ask Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
    My answer was always Still here if my circumstances are the same, somewhere else if they are not..

    I consider myself to be successful, according to my own criteria given upthread, and I have never ever done 5 year plans.