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The components of personal success in a secular democracy

In my last article I looked at the components of ‘success’ in a collective sense, examining some classical psychological techniques that might help to achieve ethnic minority ‘success’.


ayuda-humanitaria-cara-girl-ni-pixabay   Nigel Pocock


This time I want to look at personal qualities. What kind of personal qualities contribute to minority ‘success’?

Certain personality characteristics are a definite help. People who love themselves (meaning ‘self-acceptance’) are consequently at ease with themselves.

They do not feel threatened, and do feel the need to threaten others. People like being with such people.

They have a positive attitude towards their gifts and attributes, and so are likely to be ‘successful’. Successful people are proactive and prosocial, and are comfortable with who they are.

They are not bitter and angry, and this is a huge help. Bitter and angry people are those most likely to suffer trauma, and are poor team workers.

baul rayuela memorias pixabayThey are not happy people. They are likely to be single, and singleness does not generally make for a ‘success’ together with happiness.

Of course, angry people might be driven to be ‘successful’ in counter-cultural groups, even using violence to achieve this.

But when violence requires violence in response, as a lesser of two evils, this is another question. Was Toussaint L’Ouverture’s slave revolution in Haiti justified, for example? It depends on the criteria used to measure this.

From a psychologist’s perspective, poor self-esteem leads to violent and aggressive behaviour.

Some such people will do anything to get their self-esteem back, no matter how many people they destroy on the way.

Germany, after the Versailles Treaty (1919) is an example of such a collapse of national self-esteem, followed by both the holocaust and 37 million Russians dead.

stones piedras antiguo pixabayBeing an extrovert risk-taker, also helps. Risk-takers make mistakes, sometimes very big ones, but they are often successful, as a survey of great scientists will show. Out of these personality traits grow good communication skills, whether this be via modern technologies or more old-fashioned ones (Darwin was a prolific letter-writer). Extraverts are essentially sociable, and like talking to people.

It is no good doing brilliant work, if no-one knows about it, or recognises it. Think Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his short lifetime. One has to admit that his personal presentation skills were not ideal.

Conversely, although introverts can succeed in some things that extraverts find more troublesome, such as academia, closed and insecure people are likely to be restricted in the areas in which they can ‘succeed’.

Fundamentalists of whatever kind will come into this category, because they believe that reality must be mediated through a sacred text, and only through the sacred text. No other reality must be allowed to intrude.

mariposa pixabayuConversely, non-fundamentalists can share in a wider reality, and begin to use other interpretative tools. Sometimes this can be threatening. It means breaking through pseudo-community into a time of chaos, before moving into peace and understanding, and a new, shared, reality. The alternative is ghettoisation. No doubt the ghetto has its successful leaders within its little kingdom.

There is therefore a choice to be made about the kind of success an individual wants, and the boundaries that lie around it. Is going to be open or sectarian, violent or altruistic? Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, ‘There is no reality except in action’. The choice is yours.

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