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Success and Failure - Is it Really What You Think?

Updated on June 24, 2020


What does it take to be a failure? In today’s world where there is an apparent definite line between success and failure,I wanted to look at one of the most sought-after answers of all time: What does it take to be successful? However, another question this paper will be based, one that most people would never think of is: What does it take to be a failure? In this topic, I want to look at success, failure, the differences in general opinion between them and the standards set for both.



A successful person is “a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth” ( Of course, this is probably a standard view that most people would have success. However, there was another definition that struck out on the same website which defined it as “the favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; the accomplishment of one's goals.”.This is a very interesting take on true success, that it being a series of attempts ultimately leading, with a mixture of both luck and passion, to the accomplishments of a certain individual. In the next part, the discussion will be on what are the factors that influence the success of one person compared to another?

Factors of Success

Dr Arthur Poropat, a senior lecturer at Griffith University, conducted reviews on the “Big 5” personality factors: conscientiousness, openness, emotional stability, extraversion, and agreeableness. People with high levels of these traits were more likely to achieve high grades than people with high IQs.Research also showed emotional intelligence was more important than exceptional intellect to be successful. Not only does this show that there are certain factors but also that the thought process that smarter people are more successful is to an extent completely false. Let’s dive in a bit deeper into these personality factors:


People who are conscientious are more disciplined and plan their way ahead. They also don't take for granted the sense of intelligence and instead work hard to achieve their goals.


These are the type of people you’ll see figuring out different ways to do things and always trying to find new explanations to things and are always excited to do it as well

3.Emotional Stability

People who manage to keep their emotions in check and have a balanced lifestyle tend to be more successful


People who can function with a group and work interdependently with others tend to be more successful than others.


People who are warmer, friendlier to their colleagues reach higher levels of success

Of course, these are only to describe the uniqueness of a human being and their ability to handle a certain situation with certain people. There are various other factors that are also linked to these traits such as a good mindset, passion and resilience. Empathy is also a very important factor as it underlies most of the “emotional intelligence” that we as humans possess to understand a situation.

The standards of success differ greatly across countries and different cultures. A lot of common signs of success is a lot of money or a huge home to live in. Of course, careers matter. In India, being a doctor or an engineer is stereotypically superior to other careers while in the US, more prominent jobs are software engineers, physician assistant and being in the military. A common theme again is the fact that in-demand jobs seem to also be the ones which have a higher salary. This seems to be a certain common feature for jobs as people seeking a job and their parents as well want financial stability and often forget about a key element: passion.

However, one very important thing is common for most successful and many even claim it to be the number one thing that made them successful and rise above the rest.Failure.Not only does failure teach us invaluable lessons that we wouldn't get anywhere else, but if you can get past it also gives you perseverance and resilience which success can never provide, which, almost paradoxically, make you more successful. Bill Gates once said: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose”. I’ll dive a bit more into failure in the next section



Most dictionaries(and people) can agree on one standard definition of failure: that it being the lack of “success”.However, there is some sort of theme that occurs a lot in failure that people think its the point at which a person can never recover from the bad things weighing them down in life. I’d like to argue that point: failure is not when you’re at your lowest point, failure is when you are at your lowest point and don’t try getting back to where you were. This is the key to understanding failure. As Albert Einstein himself said: “You never fail until you stop trying”.

Factors Of Failure

So how do you know when a person is a failure? How can you differentiate a potentially successful person from a potential failure? .Like success are there certain factors or personality traits that show an individual is a failure? Yes, of course. Most of these are just opposites of the factors and personality traits that we mentioned for success. However, what really defines failure is( like mentioned for success) how they handle a certain situation. We always hit roadblocks in our life but how we handle them truly show whether we are successful or not.

These all boil down to mainly one thing: Mindset. The way we think about certain situations ultimately decides what we do about it which in turn either makes the situation better or worse. It is more important in negative situations where a person has to get over negativity to be a success in something. The mindset they have is the main tool that either helps or hinders them in that type of situation.

So what are the standards of failure? This, unlike standards of success, are harder to pinpoint, as not many people talk about it and that it really is influenced by the type of society we live in.I’d like to put emphasis on the first reason, however. Failure is sometimes considered taboo. This is the biggest mistake which leads to failure itself. Children are taught from a young age that failure is a bad thing that when they grow up they live in constant fear of it. This can be the core reason behind people buying new fancy houses, cars and trying to earn more money. This fear of failure really underlies a lot of human actions and thoughts.

To finish this off, I’d like to bring up a point that many successful people also agree on: People are only truly failing in life if they’re not doing what they find happiness in doing.


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