Life of the Unsuccessful
What separates the unsuccessful from the successful?
When I think about unsuccessful people, I think of those men and women who seem to be at the mercy of forces over which they seem helpless or uninterested in influencing. I was raised as a boy in such circumstances and came to know them well. I watched people who seemed helpless to do anything about their problems. Their most serious shortcoming was of course lack of education. They took their cues from those about them, which is the self-defeating cycle of the poor -they’re always following the wrong group.
More than any other factor, perhaps, the unsuccessful person can usually be identified with a group that is at the mercy of events. The unsuccessful person has things done to him or her. The successful person seeks autonomy and makes his or her own plans and has the self-esteem and inner excitement and knowledge to know that those plans can be followed, barring a calamity over which he or she can exercise no control. The unsuccessful person tends to focus on the calamity or ride with the punches. The successful person gives; the unsuccessful person takes. But since we cannot reap more than we sow, the unsuccessful person, sowing little, reaps little.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I do no more than I’m paid to do.” Sure, we all have. And that person has stuck himself in a no-win fix. Doing no more than he’s paid to do, that man can never earn more than he’s receiving, other than just cost-of-living raises. He is an unsuccessful man. His attitude has got him stuck in a corner, and until or unless something changes it, in that corner, he’s going to remain. There’s nothing at all that unsuccessful people have or do that successful people do not have more of and do better.
Unsuccessful people are not stronger or in better physical condition than successful people. They’re not better parents, wives, or husbands. About the only thing you can say about the unsuccessful is, as the well-known saying has it, God must have loved them. He made so many of them.
The word poor still applies to far too many human beings in the United States. I keep hearing politicians say that we still have not reached the proper distribution of income. But income is not a factor of distribution; income is earned by someone. If it is given to the poor, as it should be, it’s because it was earned by someone else. A country as rich as the United States should have a level of subsystems below which no one should be permitted to fall. But what is needed most is the kind of education calculated to help people help themselves. And for those who cannot help themselves, the old, the sick, the incompetent, subsistence and clean, healthful surroundings should be one of our most important national goals.
But the unsuccessful serve in one important way. We need the millions of unsuccessful people from whose ranks we can recruit the successful people of the future. Where do you think successful people come from? That’s right, they come from unsuccessful people. They are each an original, never before seen upon planet earth, with deep abilities and talents just lying dormant, waiting for the fertilization, the irrigation of good ideas and enthusiasm to get them started growing.
Even her Royal Highness, the Queen of England, had unsuccessful ancestors, if you go back far enough. As human creatures, we all started even somewhere in time. And for every successful family, there was someone who had the drive, ambition, and determination to break from the crowd and start the ball rolling … to free himself from the ranks of the unsuccessful and venture into the camp of the successful.