For a long time, experts have been trying to find a proper way to quantify impact and success, with as little to no human bias in the equation. However, with so many variables to consider in defining the concept, subjective reasoning tends to take over in the comparison of one person to another. With this in mind, what is the best tool that we have in measuring impact in one’s life, and how we must respond to it?
What “We” Think of Success
With the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defining success as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame,” it comes to no surprise as to how a lot of us living today believe that a mixture of quantitative and qualitative aspects play a key role in our perspective of impact.
Take the case of the late Kobe Bryant; his impact on the basketball court with accolades that are almost second-to-none is legendary enough, but his passion and work ethic that he displayed everyday extended his impact beyond his sport, impacting millions of people across generations around the globe.
Combined with ungodly fame and wealth in his back pocket, it comes to no surprise how so few achieve this incredible feat, with millions of people trying and failing in the process. It has become apparent that everyone around the world is fighting for the seemingly few places on the top, placing more and more pressure on many talented individuals.
Limitations of Measuring Success
Graph 1: The relative driving distance of PGA golfers has grownconsiderably from the 1980s.
Society’s idea of success has evolved and changed over time, due to new generations of humans bringing in new ideas and definitions to the concept. Therefore, it has become extremely difficult to give an accurate measurement to the idea.
The Paradox of Skill
Seeing that the skill level of professions over time has increased, luck has become more of a key determinant in an individual’s success. Recent studies in this phenomenon show how luck has influenced certain results in a person’s life. In the study’s forty-year simulation, twenty of the most successful individuals held over forty-four percent of the total amount of success evenly distributed to all people at the start of the study.
Graph 2: The success that certain individualsgarner over their lifetime in a forty-year simulation
These outcomes shown in these graphs and data are apparent in all aspects of society, from medicine all the way to entertainment. Though seemingly embedded in our evolution and filled with positives, competition creates more animosity and toxicity in one’s environment. With razor thin margins separating the best from the worst create more competition, resulting in an imbalance of opportunities available for an individual to define oneself. A study conducted on the topic proves that higher levels of competition cause higher chances for humans to inflict harm on other people.
As a result, with a more competitive world lowering our chances to spark change and impact in the lives of others, a standardized measure of impact and success seemingly is not possible. Seeing that social and cultural aspects of society will predictably change in the incoming future, this leaves future generations of humans ‘luckier’ than others, as more and more sophisticated and complex sectors of society give way for more opportunities for them.
Moreover, because of a never-ending desire for more, many other aspects of health and safety are thereby affected as well, further damaging and lowering our self-worth.
Flaws of Conventional Wisdom
As we have seemingly accepted certain ideas in mathematics, government, politics, and other aspects of society without any doubt, our sense of creative thinking and exploring new things in life have significantly diminished and affected generation after generation.
The advice that an individual garners from other people is intently followed, without considering any possible changes or tweaks to the idea due to the changing times. Due to the overwhelming amount of individuals with this mindset, the success that he or she will be able to reach is quite limited, due to the high number of people doing similar things.
Numerous studies have proven that challenging oneself outside of your comfort zone has produced more happy and successful people. A review of 225 studies published by the American Psychological Association shows that undertaking new goals in life leads to success in work and stronger health.
Most importantly, human choice in a profession makes it even more difficult for experts to accurately put a quantifiable number to success. Though certain jobs such as those in the engineering and technology industry are quite lucrative and easily scalable through the creation of new and improved products, careers in the public sector and the medical field are seemingly on the opposite side of the spectrum.
As there is no way to quantifiably assess and measure human impact, this leaves a lot of medical practitioners undervalued by society, possibly affecting their perspective on their success.
However, this does not mean that doctors are not as happy as engineers or computer scientists. With empirical evidence pointing to high-task significance as one of the best predictors to job satisfaction, it comes to no surprise as to why these aforementioned professors are rated as one of the highest in the category.
With all that in mind, success is something that should be defined through an individuals’ morals and values. As cultural and societal changes will seemingly occur in the incoming years, new trends will come out in this ever-changing world, changing every generation's attitude toward success and impact.
Being a teenager in this competitive world, thinking different and embracing creative thinking is integral in one’s journey and path towards success. Yet, it is something that is taken away from us due to the problems in the education system.