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When it comes to ‘Success’, is it a question of Can’t or a question of Won’t?

It’s fascinating how natural it’s become to imagine that everyone who failed at something, failed because they’re weak, stupid or lazy. Sometimes, don’t you wonder if people fail because they choose to fail? And isn’t it shocking that some of them are not even ashamed to fail either.

So, what is failure anyway? 

Failure is the inability to achieve set goals. 

Clear, accepted, set goals. 

The person who’s chasing a goal must first accept to chase the goals because for them, ultimately, succeeding in the quest is expected to lead to some satisfaction. 

If a person fails at a goal that’s set for them by their parents, their peers, or their tribe, can we still say that the person is a failure? 

I doubt it. 

The word successful is these days a synonym for rich and famous. If, say, I am a writer and you’re a writer and I win the Nobel prize but you don’t, the media will report me as successful and you as not so much. But what if the Nobel was never your cup of tea? 

What if all you set out to do was write stories to amuse your village people? If you achieve that goal, then, because success is the attainment of set goals, you are successful. 

Ironically, some people have found themselves in the success trap. 

Case in point: a man who went to school to study petroleum engineering. He did so because, after an evaluation of the market, his father decided that it would be best for his progeny to get into the oil and gas business. 

After school, the dad’s network engineered a job at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for the new graduate. Years later, there’s money, there’s holiday pads in the Edinburgh and Atlanta, there’s success. But the dude is moody. 

The success isn’t his. It’s his dad’s. 

This story is so common, you can probably insert ten names in it from your circle.

People need to learn about themselves first before defining what success might mean for them. Parents and schools need to figure out a way to help people in this regard. 

Of course, we grow and learn, and interests and hobbies evolve over time. Which is why some parents decided for their offspring. 

“You’ll thank me later,” they say. 

But instead of doing that, I’d suggest we start early. Watch the kids, help them sharpen their talents and interests. When the time comes to set a goal for life, it’ll be easier to stay in range.

Unless as a parent you’re still lost yourself, still trying to figure out what your dream is, and, as such, you have no space for any kid’s life goals. Please accept my sympathies.

Moving on.

Alan Watts, one of the most accessible philosophers of his time, once proposed a way for us all to figure out the kind of life we want. Ask yourself this question: what is my idea of paradise? 

As we answer the question, we must have in mind that whatever wishes we make will come with conditions. As Richard M. Weaver said, “Ideas have consequences.”

For instance, if your idea of paradise is to run a cafe in the pristine township of Oshogbo, a condition of that thought will be, Do they even buy coffee in Oshogbo? If they don’t, what do we do about that? 

We must continue to repaint that picture of paradise until it’s clear and inspirational. That’s when we can say we have an idea of the kind of life we want to live. 

It’s a long story but I don’t want to keep you here for long.

So, what’s my vision of success? Where is my paradise? Where is yours?

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I poke at ideas to see what's inside. A lot of times I generate my own. Sometimes, people pay for those ideas. And, obviously, I like to tell stories about creativity.

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