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Is struggle is a more important measure of success than accomplishment? Well, if nobody ever attempts anything, then no accomplishment will ever be attained. So struggle is at a minumum the predecessor of accomplishment. And I have become more convinced over time that failure is actually more insructive than success. If you succeed in spite…

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Dichotomies, almost by definition, reduce complex situations into manageable, reductive either-or binaries. Booker T. Washington’s statement that he has ‘learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed’ is one such complex situation.…

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Perhaps the most widely seen statement of the difference between struggle and success is stated by the ‘chaotician’ Malcolm in Jurassic Park. Objecting to the display of techno-wizardry in the dinosaur cloning lab, he states, ‘The problem is you have all this power, but you never had to learn discipline to achieve it.’ For all…

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Ask any writer, director, artist: character trumps plot every time. In dramatic fiction as well as in our understanding of the world around us, we often look more to those who have significant barriers to their goals in order to provide inspiration, to provide catharsis, to provide understanding. Whole theologies are even built on the…

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Success is random. Sometimes your best efforts bring nothing but failure. Other times fortune will bring you great rewards for doing very little or doing what you do worse than someone else. Bill Gates took a rotten operating system, improved it not one bit and made billions from it, simply because he was able to…

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hich is a more important measure of success: Accomplishment or struggle? If two people have struggled equally but one has accomplished more then the more accomplished person has clearly succeeded more. If two people have achieved the same goals one might say they have the same success regardless of a difference in struggle required, But…

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Washington’s assertion is a product of its time, the American Gilded Age, when the self-made man was the figure most worthy of emulation. Children learned that in the stories of Horatio Alger; adults saw it personified in figures such as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers. Is a struggle toward…

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I disagree with Washington. ‘Measures of success’ implies something we can quantify. In my opinion, accomplishment involves concrete achievements, the sort of thing we can put on a resume: ‘My GPA at Wisconsin was 4.0.’ ‘I became a vice-president of the company at age 32.’ ‘I completed the 5K run in 18 minutes.’ The struggles…

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Is success to be measured more in terms of obstacles overcome than in the position ultimately reached? The question is in the end one of definition, of defining the word ‘success.’ This process of defining is not a semantic exercise. Instead, it requires the speaker — i.e., the person who says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to…

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I think it is true that success is better measured by the obstacles one has overcome, rather than the position one has reached in life. Ernest Hemingway, in his classic work, ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ explored just this theme. His protagonist, Santiago, was a fisherman. Santiago caught a big fish, which was then…