Many successful people in their field point to hard work as the key factor in their success. Some do it out of humility because they don’t think they are special. Others do it out of arrogance because they believe that other unsuccessful people were lazy and could have done better if they had worked harder. Of course, hard work is only one of the several factors for success. Here are some I can think of:
- Parents – rich/poor, educated or not, profession
- Support of family members, relatives, friends, professional acquaintances
- Place (country, region) where the person was born
- The country’s political, economic, social and judicial systems
- The state of the economy at critical times during the person’s career
- The physical and mental health of the person
- Personal qualities – confidence, communication, attractiveness, etc.
- The basic intelligence of the person
- Level of education (high school, graduate) that the person was able to complete
- Place (school, college) where the person studied
- Choice of career
- Sheer luck, coincidence or timing
Each of these factors can play a part in a person’s success. Some may be very significant like existing family wealth and income. Others may be less significant or dependable like luck. Others may be relevant in some situations – like communication may be very important for someone in marketing, but less for a researcher.
Fundamentally though, it boils down to this: The more factors you have in your favor, the more likely you are to succeed in what you are trying to do. And if you are weak in some areas, you need a bigger dose of the other factors to help you out.
For example, if a person is born poor to under-educated parents, they have to overcome a lot of challenges before they can be on a level playing field with someone born to a middle-class household to professional workers. Same thing with physically handicapped persons. Success is possible, but much more difficult.
Some of these qualities are within our control, most aren’t. Whatever success we may have achieved through our personal efforts is small compared to the influence of external factors. Realizing that keeps a lot in perspective.