Social Awareness

We Seek Success But…

What is the ‘formula’ for success?

When we set out in search of success, we honestly believe it is something we want. Although, if asked for the reason you might conclude it’s simply an expectation. Stop and think about it for a moment. Sometimes we don’t really know what that looks like. We just know we are supposed to do it.

Interestingly, this quote dares you to follow your own path. It suggests: When you search for success, don’t follow other’s expectations. However, the pursuit of success is in itself an expectation. How did we get stuck with this expectation? Who set it?

Success Expectations

According to Sociologist and Historian Michel Foucault, people are governed through self-discipline. He believed people ‘govern themselves’ according to established mindsets. These mindsets shape and guide their choices and lifestyles. He called this ‘shaping’ governmentality.

Governmentality is control by changing people’s mentality or way of thinking. The whole point is to ‘govern’ the way you behave by convincing you not only that it is good for you, but also that you want it. If you want it, you will make every effort to do it.

Discourse, used to achieve governmentality, limits the options to express and discuss ideas. The media reinforces these options of what you ‘should’ want. Usually, the discourse presents the options in black and white and in a way that to choose one of the sides is unacceptable. As a result, people will dismiss as irrelevant or simply not discuss the options left outside of the discourse.

The options available in this case are: success and failure. The discourse then defines success in terms of possessions, knowledge, fashion, and similar things. This definition excludes any other measures, such as meaning or purpose and automatically places them in the category of failure, making their pursuit undesirable.

What is success and who gets to define it?
Should each individual have their own measure?

How do you measure it?


Text: Mitzi Pomenta
Image: Dikaseva