22 August 2008

Leadership and success

Success a real nice and vague term. It is completely dependable on the definition used. Success is in no way comparable to a law of nature. As water is fluid between 273 to 373 degrees Kelvin. Or masses attract each other. Or a ball can only fly so far at has been thrown through air.

But success is completely defined on the basis of a norm. If my norm is money. Those with the most of it are successful according to me. If my norm is speed. Those who are the fastest over 100 meters are successful. So success can not be measured the same way as when there is air or not.

But one way or another, we live by certain definitions of success. If someone reaches the age on which his entitled to a pension, and he has ten million dollars, we call him a successful person. Even if there are three other persons with three billion dollars each at that moment. However if that same person would retire with only a state sponsored pension and fifty years work for the same employer, we would find him pitiful and even would call him a looser.
We would not look at we the person had done in those fifty years. We would let ourselves be seduced by our definition of success so much, that we forget to take anything else into account.
Because what if the person who earned a ten million dollar pension did that by firing 10.000 men personnel? Or even worse, he sold enough guns to kill a million humans? Whereas this person that only has a state pension helped 10.000 persons and saved them from a death by hunger? Who would we call successful now?

Our inclination is to use a small definition for success, and more often then not an useless definition. We do not define success on terms of most happiness to most people. But we take a definition which carries in it the chance that the success of the one person is based on the misery of many others.

But maybe that is exactly the reason why we find ourselves so successful as a species?

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