Monday, May 18, 2015

Redefining The Conventional Definition of Success

Success in the capitalism society is often defined as one who manage to captivate through material possessions and titles. This is not surprising in the first place. Capitalism is often closely associated with economic growth and has often been criticized for its underlying focus on profits and how these ultimately lead to income inequality where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

Take external multinational corporation for instance. How many times do we see titles being inflated to "AVP" or "Managing Director" when we meet with external customers or suppliers? At the very least, you would see the title "Managers" being printed on the namecard. This is good for defining success because you want to exercise your authority by having these powerful titles.

The same goes when a recruiter asks for your current title at work and when it doesn't sound as impressive as the title at the next potential job, it might be difficult to get them. For some reason, these are the pretty hollow things that are usually overrated.




In our highly conceptualized society, luxury cars, condominium, credit cards and results lean early on what success might look like. Different cultures may represent variations in vocational perception of what success is but the general idea of bigger home, thicker wallet and fast cars are becoming one of tattered path to success.

Last week, one of channel 8 show broadcasting Jamie Chua personal luxury home and her famous collection of Hermes Birkin handbags have hit quite a bit of talking points there. Even my mum and wife were there to watch them. The general idea that I get from the public is the girls are seeing her as some sort of role model, a person that defines what "success" is with all the famous collection of luxury items one must have when you get to her age. The society is obviously mesmerized by the different definition of success they are looking for and it can be harmful at times. We can blame the media for so relentlessly corrupting us into believing that success requires us to act or behave in a certain way and own things so rare that only one of those you can own it. I like to think that people are old and educated enough to think well enough for themselves to decipher the code between the unconventional meaning of success.

As a society, we obviously need a better financially less dependent measures of success. Perhaps, we can start by defining success that works for the collective. A good example would be the collective voluntary assistance reaction to the recent Nepal earthquake. We give and provide helping hands to one another in all forms of assistance to the needy and casualties in Nepal. At some point, we need to break out from the formal structures of what success really is that rule over our head. We need to show sufficient respect to the aunties that clean our roads, the janitor that cleans out toilets and the less proficient professions that make out society a complete world to live in.

I count my blessings to be able to have them around.


How do you see or define success? What is success means to you?

20 comments:

  1. When I was little, being successful is being something or doing something that my parents approved and pleased with. I'm not so sure if that's deviated too much. I'll have to sleep on this one.

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    1. Hi Vivianne

      When we were young, we were much more gullible and look to some role model to follow. Parents would be the natural choice because we certainly knew that they won't lie to us in a bad way. I guess that's one way to look at it ;)

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  2. Hi B

    Sad to say , success in the context to sg means all the monetary gains and status quoting game .

    Not to say "Managing Director" or "Manager" , When one heard the occupation of "Doctor" , one most likely will think he or she must be earning big bucks instead of how many lives had she or he saved ?

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    1. Hi STI

      That's a very good way to look at it from another lense which I didn't think about. For some reasons, doctors and lawyers are all glamorous for being rich in paycheck, at least that's where the outside world sees it. We certainly hope thats not the case with choosing those as a profession themselves.

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  3. Isn't this ironical? This blog and the related links here are all talking about Financials and Investment? People who regularly reads these blogs are looking at investing for financial freedom and making more money (ie. economic success)? Don't get me wrong, pursuing economical success is not that bad/evil.

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    1. Hi LBT

      You are right. I am not against economical success and neither should everyone. We need to embrace the fact that money is important to pay our daily living expenses and very few of us would discount that to an argument.

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  4. B,

    Just look at financial bloggers and see if we are good role-models ourselves ;)

    How many define "success" with our goals and milestones in $, and focus only on pursuit of net worth, and an alternative source of income ;)

    Imagine what someone outside our community will think on their first visit here?

    Luckily, we have a minority who blogs about fishing and makan trips in JB, oat meals, frivolous stuffs like thosai, and relations with wife, parents, children, etc.

    ;)

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    1. Hi SMOL

      I think as a general guideline we as representatives of financial bloggers are doing fine and are educating and motivating the others. That does not mean that any talks or discussion about money is evil or bad, we are simply embracing the fact that money is important and everyone should understand the role of money that can impact their life overall.

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  5. Hi B,
    On Jamie Chua on Channel 8, I watched that and I was so shocked to uncover that the media is promoting/showcasing such lifestyle! It is true that we cannot blame the media for doing that, ultimately they are after sensational topics for viewership and profit. However, I am deeply concerned on suCH stereotypes on TVs to bombard the society.

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    1. Hi Anonymous

      Speaking of that, I am now watching it again but it's David Gan for today episode. I guess like you said, it's attracting viewers so that's their main objective really.

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    2. Hi B,
      Watched David Gan today also. There are certainly people in our society able to live in that kind of livings and I am really concerned with the impact of such shows on the general public, especially those are less discerning.
      Ironically, they are trying to get the socialites/rich/celebrities to donate for good causes, but it becomes kinds of show-off and the publicity seems going in a wrong direction.

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    3. Act of charity? Show off big big first. You can see I am so rich and have plenty.

      Now you see I am giving out my "beloved" ones as charity. I am sad!

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    4. Truly indeed.

      Show wealth first, then donate out of "charity" :)

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  6. To me success boils down to happiness. If I have a happy life than it is a successful life. For me that is having a great family and working at a job I love - until I retire early from dividend growth investing to do something I love even more :) .

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    1. Hi Dividend Empire

      That's a great way to look at it.

      Life in general, be happy at whatever you do. That's success.

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  7. Hey B, of course money and finances are important in a capitalist society but I believe that success equates to happiness. I don't really think that more money can buy happiness though. :-)

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    1. Hi Jeff

      Yeah, money can buy happiness to a certain extent but beyond a certain point, they are just useless piece of worth that cannot buy anything in life.

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  8. I don't think there will ever be one definitive definition of success. It depends on what stage of your life you're in. I'm young, so my attention is focused on my career and businesses. Money is success for me at this moment in my life.

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    1. Hi Tony

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments.

      My definition of success moves through different times of my life. It was very different when I was at the age of 20 versus now that I am in the age of 30. I guess I've just experienced more in my life right now that I am not seeing back then.

      Take care and cheers.

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  9. You are right to delay reaching financial freedom because of family expenses. Don't worry about it. Financial independence or even abundance is a little over rated. It's a great feeling but not always advisable esp if you achieve it young and if you are not too matured. You don't seem to have the latter issue though!

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