Success is subjective. A person who is successful to me might be a complete failure to you. That is precisely why you are allowed to disagree with successful people. It’s a weird world that we live in today. Look around. Look at the media you consume, the people you read about, the people you follow, and so on, so forth. If I told you most of these success stories were nothing but cases of survivorship bias then how would you react?
Try checking your social media feed. I’m sure at least one person in your list follows some entrepreneur or disruptive person who changed the world and has cracked the key to being more productive and escaping mediocrity. They will make a provocative video where they’ll call you all sorts of things, almost crushing your self-esteem. It started with Gary Vee and now it’s a fad.
Yes, I know the brutal truth argument but in my opinion, it’s just hollow defence. Over the course of my short life, I have attended enough conferences and talks to differentiate between a successful person and some self-righteous prick who, for a variety of factors, made it there. I’m not questioning their success or their achievements. I commend anyone who accomplished whatever they pursued.
The Contradicting Conference Guest
In a conference at my university last year, we had a delegate who did not leave one chance to call the audience worthless. In fact, he enjoyed it. His personality was a contradiction though. He told us stories of his youth where he did not care about anything, drank beer all day long, went about doing nothing. A decade of that and he got his first job. Then, he moved up the corporate ladder. Only to retire and start his own company when he was 40-something.
Yet, he looked down at the audience as he said the following, “You go about texting all day long. Playing Pokémon GO. Wasting your time hanging out and what not”. This would’ve been an acceptable insult. Millennials should be used to this now, shouldn’t we? However, this was a person who had glorified wasting his time as a young man just minutes before he uttered his two cents of wisdom. It was a contradiction.
Another one happened when he asked people in need of jobs to raise their hands. Quite a lot of hands went up and then he declared, “You’re all failures”. His point was understandable. Maybe he was of the belief that most people who want jobs after college aren’t thinking for themselves. It’s flawed inductive reasoning, at best, though. It was an open session so a student asked the following,
It’s easy calling job-seekers failures when you’ve had a good stint in the corporate world and have only just stepped out to be an entrepreneur. Would you have quit your job when you had just landed it?
There wasn’t a clear answer from the speaker but I will always remember this question because it brings out a brilliant flaw in most success advice these days. Every person gives their insight from their situations and experiences and none of it applies to most people so why bother, especially with the negativity?
Ignore The Negativity
Most successful people these days will give you provocative, filthy and completely inappropriate advice because profanity looks cool on stage. Most talks get turned into bits where the speaker embraces the stage as a performer instead of someone who was called to share honest insight. That is because most people love lying to themselves about themselves, including those who get called to speak publicly.
No one is denying anyone’s success. Success, however, is subjective to opinion. If my friend tells me about a certain writer/journalist who came to share a guest lecture and called her class as useless as masturbated spermatozoa, I don’t care how successful he is, I lose respect for him. He isn’t successful, he’s just one of thousands who got above the crowd of obscurity but couldn’t rise above himself. In my opinion, he’s failed miserably.
Herman Cain once said,
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
In fact, no successful person ever knew anything other than to pursue whatever they were doing with honesty and happiness. So, do that. Do whatever you want to do. It’s your life and you, only you, can realise it to the highest standard you have in your head for it. You’re not anything anyone ever tells you. At least not until you look in the mirror and take their words to your heart.
That is exactly why you should disagree with successful people. For they may have forgotten why they succeeded at whatever they do but most stories almost always begin with an act of defiance – a disagreement with someone who thought they knew what they were talking about.