History of the “Success” Concept

In reviewing material from a past interview, I was fascinated by a particular question. I was asked to give “a storytelling tour into the history of “success”.’ I wanted to preserve my response. The link to the complete interview is at the bottom of the page. I’d be interested in your thoughts!

My favorite place to start telling the story of success is with Moses’s successor. Moses was a nation builder schooled in Egypt and raised in royalty. He led his countrymen to new territory, gave them a civil code, and probably introduced to them their written language. How could such a giant be succeeded?

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That was the concern of Joshua, the one chosen to continue what Moses started. Joshua was encouraged to meditate and observe his actions to discover prosperity and ‘success’. He was empowered to do what Moses could not. Joshua’s story embodies all what we call success today. From Hebrew scripture, we learn Jewish culture connected success with independence, freedom, and abundance. It also introduces success as being sourced from spirituality.

As humankind evolved to unite nations through military conquests, the one-world superpower of Babylon was created under Nebuchadnezzar. Many assume that reaching ultimate power would define success; however, history records it differently.

The world’s most powerful leader went through a season of insanity. After several years, Nebuchadnezzar was healed. His public decree following the incident elevated wisdom, not power, as true success. It is one of the reasons why I emphasize in my book that success is not fame or fortune; it is living a life of fulfilment. The prominence of the Magi within the Chaldean culture confirms success was associated with wisdom.

Wise Men

The Greek philosophers give us insight into the next era of success. Plato’s ‘Republic’ is an articulation of collective success. It stands in contrast to individuals being successful. Although this era of democracy was strong, its balance was a collective rule through supposed wise leaders. The Greek idealism is a full development of what we first saw with the Hebrews and later Chaldeans. However, the modern era emphasized success as an individual empowerment.

The modern era roughly began with the American Revolution. It promoted the Greek ideal of ‘people power’ alongside the need for a Republic. This allowed individuals to pursue personal liberty within legal boundaries. Entrepreneurship was liberated for any person of race, birth, creed, or social standing to pursue. Entrepreneurship embodied the modern ideal of success.

You refer to success as ‘controversial’. In post-modern thought, there is more emphasis on the collective than the individual. Any controversy would be rooted inside scarcity thinking. The scarcity mind-set views life as a pie. If someone is successful, they are taking a larger portion of the pie which is consider unfair to fellow beings. However, success is rooted in abundant thinking. There is no desire to take from others. It is the thinking that the universe intends for me to utilize all that is available and if others want success, another pie can be baked. In fact, successful people desire to show others how to bake that pie.

The story of success is one in transition. Society’s ideals change as humanity evolves. It is why my sequel deals with 56 Notions of Ethics. Ethical Success is more important in post-modernism than individual success. The transition is why I believe there is no one set pattern for success. Every person is unique. Success for one person will not look the same in another. However, the principles of success preserved through time remain: independence, freedom, abundance, wisdom, liberty.

Link to complete Interview

Link to book: 56 Notions of Success