Alain de Botton, examines our ideas of success and failure- and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.
It’s perhaps easier now than ever before to make a good living. It’s perhaps harder than ever before to stay calm, to be free of career anxiety. I want to look now, if I may, at some of the reasons why we might be feeling anxiety about our careers. Why we might be victims of these career crises, as we’re weeping softly into our pillows. One of the reasons why we might be suffering is that we are surrounded by snobs.
So what I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus on our ideas, and make sure that we own them; that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out, at the end of the journey, that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.
So, I’m going to end it there. But what I really want to stress is: by all means, success, yes. But let’s accept the strangeness of some of our ideas. Let’s probe away at our notions of success. Let’s make sure our ideas of success are truly our own.
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