Elements of a Successful Person

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As of 2013, there are 7.1 billion people living on this planet (World). The variation among these people is tremendous, yet humans have a genetic similarity of 99.5% (Kowalski). There are many different ways to classify the success of a person, especially when considering the drastic differences in cultures around the world. Despite these differences, there are five broad elements of success that can be applied to anyone, from any culture, in any part of the world. The five transcending elements to success are education, lifestyle, passion, goals and ethics. Evidence shows the presence and maintenance of each of these variables determine the difference between those who live successful, meaningful lives and those who do not. This paper analyzes each of these elements, present and not present, in certain situations and the outcome in the legacy left behind. It is hypothesized that the greater the presence and maintenance of these elements, the greater impact a person can make in their lives and the lives of those around them. Once it is determined these elements are strongly correlated to success, the paper will then analyze ways for the average person to position himself or herself for life changing achievement. First and foremost comes the element of education. 

Education is arguably the most important element in achieving success. Without education, one is virtually immobile in functioning among others in society. Education ideally begins at a young age with reading, writing and mathematics. As students enter into the intermediate stage of their childhood education, they are introduced to analytical reasoning and higher-level concepts. By the completion of high school, the student leaves with a solid understanding of a wide variety of applicable subjects. While it is customary for children in the United States to complete high school, the same cannot be said about children in other countries. As more people realize the power of education, the value of a college degree has diminished to an extent. As a result, some consider the masters degree to be the new bachelors degree. The higher the level of education, the more mental capacity a person has when attending to daily tasks and duties. In countries with literacy rates as low as 37.8%, such as Somalia, the quality of success of the country as a whole is poor compared to other developed and growing countries (Central). Through plain observance of countries around the world, it is clear that the level of education in the society directly correlates with the gross domestic productivity of a country, commonly used as a measure of success. With knowledge derived from education formally and informally, it is important one maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as defines lifestyle, “the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture” (Lifestyle). The typical way of life of the average person is equally important to achieving success as the other four elements are. Lifestyle is a combination of the nutrition habits of the person and the exercising habits of the person. One must consider the variation of foods among different cultures and different socioeconomic classes. Despite the differences, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are invaluable. A health and lifestyle survey underwent in the United Kingdom provides correlations between eating habits and the overall health of the person. The women in the study preferred healthier eating habits, tending more towards items like fruit salad. What raises concern in the study is the tendency for young males to consume items deemed unhealthy such as fried foods (Cox). High fat and cholesterol intake has been generally linked with heart disease. This nutrition issue transitions into the other half of lifestyle, exercise. The American Heart Association recommends “At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes” (American). While this may seem a bit excessive to the inactive individual, it is important to exercise the body in order to prevent the buildup of fat, especially in bulk. The foods people eat in conjunction with their level of exercise directly influence the mental development of a person. A scholarly article posted in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes this relationship. 

Nutrients and growth factors regulate brain development during fetal and early postnatal life. The rapidly developing brain is more vulnerable to nutrient insufficiency yet also demonstrates its greatest degree of plasticity. Certain nutrients have greater effects on brain development than do others. These include protein, energy, certain fats, iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, vitamin A, choline, and folate. The effect of any nutrient deficiency or overabundance on brain development will be governed by the principle of timing, dose and duration. (Georgieff) 

The evidence suggests nutrition plays a key role in the development of the brain. Exercise plays an important role with nutrition in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Other factors that play a role in lifestyle include quality of air, access to healthcare and acceptable living standards. There is an intertwined relationship between lifestyle and the previously established element of education. Without a healthy lifestyle, a person cannot succeed in education. Therefore, if one is to aim for success, a person must maintain a healthy lifestyle as they pursue their education. Assuming one has lived a healthy lifestyle and pursued education, other elements to success are needed to provide balance and meaning.

Surprisingly, many students enter college not knowing what they intend to do when they graduate. Some fail to consider until it is too late and they are stuck working a routine job with no possibility for advancement or growth. There is a clear distinction between a job and a career. A job is a paid position of regular employment whereas a career is an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress. A job is something that can be given to any mindless person. A career is something only a person with education can receive with some rare exceptions. The important element that comes into play when choosing a career is passion. Working in a field for reasons other than passion in the work, such as for the money or lack of other options, is a great detriment to success. Passion in work adds great value in a person’s work because it comes from the person’s heart. Without passion and love for the work they do, a person cannot expect to reach the level of success of their potential. With the career fueled by education, exceptional health and passion, one can pursue the opportunities for progress a career implies.

The fourth major element to success is the constant pursuit of goals. A scholarly article published in the International Journal of Career Management discusses the role of goal setting in career management. The essay discusses the different psychological processes that may go through the head of a person in the beginning stages of their career. These include developmental indecision, chronic indecision, hypervigilant decidedness and vigilant decidedness. Each of these different attitudes towards careers and the goal setting that arises from them can influence a person’s level of success (Jeffery). It is not important which of the attitudes one holds towards their career as much as it is important to have measurable and attainable goals as one looks forward. As one moves forward in their career and achieves their goals one by one, there is one more element to success that determines the true level of success of a person.

As one grows in life and slowly acquires more resource and influence, morality and ethics play a big part in the final stages of success. The further one rises up the career ladder, the more people will look to them for guidance. The decisions made by the person in this position are critical in the lifetime of work invested. The twelfth edition of the textbook Business Law: Text and Cases discusses the importance of ethics. The book claims ethics are important through the numerous people that are affected by the decisions made by those with resource and influence, as well as the duties and obligations of those decision makers (Clarkson). When a person is in some position of power, it is critically important to remain respectful to those above and under themselves as well as to their own code of ethics. It may seem easy to abandon ethics in this late of a state for some short-term gains, but the long-term consequences almost always outweigh the short-term gains. Sooner than later the consequences will add up and will most likely present themselves in a serious, public manner, in which the persons image could be permanently damaged. As long as one adheres to a certain level of ethics, is constantly in pursuit of achievement, impassioned by their work, healthy both physically and mentally, and most importantly, well educated to a certain standard, then one is well positioned to be successful. 

In his book Last Lecture, Randy Pausch attempts to provide his children with tips, lessons and advice gathered from his own experiences during the course of his life. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the shocking diagnosis left Pausch reminiscing about his life experiences. Where the average person may generate pity among those around him, Pausch made it a priority to stay positive though his condition. In the case of Pausch, education and lifestyle are necessary conditions that are as they are. His passion in his work and some level of goal setting elevated him to the professional level he achieved. But it was his ethics, and his desire to leave the world happy instead of in grief, that impacted the minds of millions of people. In his interview with Time Magazine, Pausch presents himself as an optimistic, insightful professor whose sole intent is to make the lives of the people around him better and happier (TIME). Randy Pausch is a clear example of how utilizing, even slightly, the general elements to success, ones impact can be tremendous, in life or in death. Another example of the elements of success being utilized is evident in the story of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Mahatma Gandhi was a common Indian man that, by utilizing the core elements of success, was able to lead the country of India to its independence from the British. Mahatma was a life long learner in that he never stopped learning. His most formal education is his training in law at University College in London. Even before reaching a level of professionalism, Gandhi always practiced his ethics as he abstained from consuming meat and alcohol (Pastan). These lifestyle choices prevent unnecessary toxins from entering his body, keeping his mind pure. As his education, lifestyle and ethics are properly aligned, the system around him is not. One day while traveling in South Africa, he is thrown off of a train and humiliated because of his distinct physical features as an Indian. This impassioning moment was the spark of one of the greatest political independence movements in history. One by one, Gandhi was able to reach his goals until India was completely independent from the British and unified. Unfortunately, someone lacking the elements of success miscalculated and assassinated one of the purest leaders in history. However, we see as with the case of Randy Pausch, the words and actions of Mahatma Gandhi still influence people around the world today. 

In conclusion, despite the many difference among people around the world, there are broad categories that influence the level of success a person can achieve. Most importantly is learning and acquiring knowledge through education. Without education, one is unable to understand and function in the society around them. Along with understanding comes lifestyle. It is important to maintain the body on a certain standard of health in order to continue living a productive life. As one seeks their field of choice, they must follow their heart and passion, as it is tremendously difficult to produce impacting quality work without passion embedded in the work. One must constantly set and maintain goals for each step forward in their careers. Goals provide the individual with a target to guide them in the direction they want to go. Finally, as one becomes more resourceful and influential in their careers, it is important they maintain a certain level of ethics. The actions an individual takes are likely to affect people more than themselves. Also, any grossly negligent act can be brought to the public’s eye almost instantly, greatly affecting image. All in all, if these elements are present, at least in some extent, an individual can expect to achieve at least a certain level of success. All in all, each of these elements is interconnected to the others in what we can visualize as a “Wheel of Success”. All it takes is the drive to move it forward, and that is all on the individual person.

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