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An explanation of various definitions of the term success, its various classifications, and its application in the daily lives of people living in the American society.
In daily life, success can be taken to mean, but not limited to, a level of social rank; and individual’s achievement of set short term objectives and goals in life (Babson 149). Success is also taken to refer to the opposite of failure. Many individuals or organizations often see success as the act of winning some kind of competition, maybe in a sporting activity, a contention, or an occupation. In an organization, success is mainly measured in terms of attaining best positions and climbing the top of the ranking ladder in one’s field of employment (Marden 221). Individuals may term themselves as successful for winning a lottery, retiring from their employment with plenty money to vacation anywhere in the world. Sadly, the success of some individuals may however mean hurting other individuals.
Authors such as Gregory Mantsios have touched on the topic of success in the American society in an indirect manner. For instance, Gregory Mantsios touches on this topic in his renowned essay, “Class in America”. According to Mantsios, there are things that hinder individuals from attaining fulfillment or success. He says, “When we look at society and try to determine what it is that keeps most people down—what holds them back form realizing their potential as healthy, creative, productive individuals—we find institutionally oppressive forces that are largely beyond individual control. Class domination is one of these forces” (Newman 302).
Success can be in various forms for both individuals and organizations. These types of success include:
Financial success. Financial success differs significantly from one individual to another. However the base is that financial success always involves one’s struggle to achieve more riches than what ones has currently. For an unemployed individual, financial success may entail getting adequate money to sustain one’s shelter and food. On the other hand, the rich tycoons, such as petroleum dealers, success for them involves trying to strive and make more millions on top of what they already have. Thus, the level or pedigree of success is the obvious difference between an individual who has a lot already and an unemployed man. In most instances, success does not come smoothly, and the financial type of success is not an exception. The consequence of not succeeding financially is very consequential, and could lead to the family break-ups.
In the American society, attaining financial success for survival or more power is clearly an obsession and has been the cause of class system that is lower class, middle class and upper class in the nation (Perrucci and Earl 51). Those who are in the lower class however are very much against this classification, and thus, most people regard the middle-class society, “People in the United States don’t like to talk about class. Or so it would seem. We don’t speak about class privileges, or class oppression, or the class nature of society” (Kimmel and Abby 33). In support of this perception, Gregory Mantsios adds that “People in the United States don’t like to talk about class. Or so It would seem. We don’t speak about class privileges, or class oppression, or the class nature of society. These terms are not part of our everyday vocabulary, and in most circles they are associated with the language of the rhetorical fringe”.
Another type of success that individuals strive for is social success. This kind of success involves an individual’s acceptability by peers and the society at large. The difference between this type of success and financial success is that, some people who do not care about social activities may opt out of this kind of success, terming it as unimportant. These individual may only want to have peer acceptance just for the sake of their employment. On the other hand, some people are very socially active and they actually thrive on the social facets of life considering them to be critical to their way of life (Marden 221). This kind or success—social success is more predominant in wealthier societies than the financially struggling societies. The reason for this is because, the wealthier people have money and they do not need to be concerned about other necessities, thus they can afford to focus their attention elsewhere. The wealthier socializers also find social success significantly crucial since in many ways, it boosts their big business. As evident in the American society, many huge business deals are often closed during cocktail parties, lunches, in classy bars and not in the office environment.
In the American society, many individuals also seek spiritual success. Unlike other kinds of success, spiritual success for every individual could mean a different thing to another individual. The act of being spiritually successful for many gives one the gift of being at peace with oneself, through the use of one’s religion or use of simple mind relaxation techniques. Spiritual success given by religion can be very complicated with some meaning having to attend church every Saturday or Sunday; while for others, it can mean to merely make a simple prayer before bedtime (Marden 221).
In the American society, it is evident that perhaps only the subject of race happens to be a more sensitive one compared to the manner in which individuals sort themselves out in their struggle for success. Regardless of the kind of success, one basic thing is that, success will always involve getting better than one’s current state.