Why do we want "success" so bad?

mrgth23's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 78

I'm a lot more ambitious than people around me and how I just can't relate with them because they have no aspirations, don't plan long term, etc.(I go to a non-target state school) It got me thinking about why I'm so professionally focused and want to get into a top firm and want to get this prestige.

It's like I know it's meaningless but I still can't help but want it and go after it. Is because I subliminally want to make my parents proud? Is it because I feel like this is the only way I can prove to myself that I'm smart or accomplished?

Why do we want to succeed so bad or to "make it" ? I'm not asking for an answer that applies to everyone, just wanted to get your personal perspective.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with pursuing success and prestige. But are we really after that or how that makes us feel and will that really help us ever achieve it?

Also is there any way to escape this drive to follow this path of accomplishment after accomplishment? Idk, I'm probablt in the wrong place as we're all so driven in that way.

Comments (67)

Dec 30, 2018

cause i wanna be rich as fuck

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Dec 30, 2018

lol, I'm talking about the non-financial aspect

Funniest
Dec 30, 2018

i dont care about prestige or anything i just wanna be rich as fuck

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Dec 30, 2018

Personally, I enjoy getting to learn from and be around very intelligent people that you run into when you start succeeding. There's no real way to find these people any other way. I got to hang out with two billionaires this year and never would have imagined that happening even just a year and a half ago...

The money is nice too but it's a natural consequence of focusing on learning and interacting with high quality people IMO.

Dec 30, 2018

At the same time, how do you define success? For some people its being rich, for others being famous, and for others being able to enjoy time with family.

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Jan 2, 2019

I would think success is setting and surpassing all your goals, as well as being one of the top people in whatever area.

If you like bodybuilding, become the world champ 6x in a row. If you want to be a movie star, become the highest paid actor in the world. If you are into politics, become the highest position of the most prestigious place possible for you. If you like hard to get women, marry a Kennedy or something.

Dec 30, 2018

For me, it's several things.

For one, it's indeed partly out of insecurity. I tend to compare myself to others, so I guess I want to achieve a success so high that few people will make me feel bad about myself when I look at their achievements. So it's kind of a defense mechanism to avoid feeling bad about myself. But I don't think this insecurity is necessarily a bad thing. It's just about having higher standards than most people. I am the same way in other aspects of my life - my insecurities are many other people's normal. And I suspect this is because many other people gave up on their potential a long time ago.

It's also about ego, and this is definitely a guy thing. Every man, if subconsciously, wants to be the alpha, the big swinging dick, every man wants to be "THE man" and be powerful. Am I happy when my friends accomplish great things? Absolutely. But a part of me also says "man, my friends are such badasses, I don't want to fall behind. I gotta do some big things now." If you think about it, this natural drive to do better and be better is what's probably driven much of humanity's progress. Wars are fought over ego, countries are conquered out of ego, inventions are created out of ego and a desire to improve the status quo.

But lastly, and most importantly, I think it's from a place of true belief in oneself. I know I was lucky to grew up in an environment where I was pushed and where people around me were relatively successful, and mostly believed in me. Sure I went through periods where I seriously doubted my confidence and abilities (middle school anyone?), but ultimately I realized that you can be and do anything you want in life. This also became the truth for me when I moved to the US - I came here when I was 15 - as I used to live in a place where only the true 1% are afforded opportunities, or you must live a life of crime to become someone. Politics aside, most of us have it pretty fucking great here.

Ultimately, I think success indeed comes down to what your priorities are and what you value in life. I think a case should also be made for success in effort - not getting hung up on the final results of your efforts, but rather feeling proud of yourself and fulfilled because you can rest easy knowing you gave it your all and left everything on the field.

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Dec 31, 2018
monkey2121:

For me, it's several things.

For one, it's indeed partly out of insecurity. I tend to compare myself to others...

:

It's also about ego,

I'm not one to preach personality types like that EFNP or ITFJPOOPDTPR stuff, but a while back, I had to take the Strengths Finder one through my work (google it if you're actually interested). After going in to it with the "another one of these fucking things" attitude, I found that the top 5 strengths it identified about me and the accompanying explanations were pretty spot on.

My top strength - Competition. This is the first few sentences of the description:

  • Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other
    people's performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no
    matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the
    achievement feels hollow.

I wouldn't be surprised if many high achievers had this trait. Looking at it this way, I feel that the "drive to success" comes from wanting to be better and do better than others - which you touched on.

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Jan 1, 2019
John Pierpont:
monkey2121:

For me, it's several things.

For one, it's indeed partly out of insecurity. I tend to compare myself to others...

:

It's also about ego,

I'm not one to preach personality types like that EFNP or ITFJPOOPDTPR stuff, but a while back, I had to take the Strengths Finder one through my work (google it if you're actually interested). After going in to it with the "another one of these fucking things" attitude, I found that the top 5 strengths it identified about me and the accompanying explanations were pretty spot on.

My top strength - Competition. This is the first few sentences of the description:

  • Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other
    people's performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no
    matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the
    achievement feels hollow.

I wouldn't be surprised if many high achievers had this trait. Looking at it this way, I feel that the "drive to success" comes from wanting to be better and do better than others - which you touched on.

Spot on. Reminds me of the meme/pic from someone's high school year book where an Asian kid's senior quote says something about success not being enough, but that others have to fail. Gives me a good laugh every time, but there's a bit of truth in that quote (see: schadenfreude).

Jan 1, 2019
John Pierpont:

My top strength - Competition. This is the first few sentences of the description:

  • Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other
    people's performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no
    matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the
    achievement feels hollow.

This is a strength? TBH, this reads like a personality disorder.

Dec 30, 2018

I started out very hungry and wanting to achieve financial success, but interestingly enough after you've attained it, it's about the chase. Getting ahead at a young age means sacrificing much of your time to your job or business, but then you've spent so much time at it that you've become very good at it and really enjoy it. Then you spend more time working because it's enjoyable. It goes round and round lol.

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Dec 30, 2018

Because I hate my dad and want him to cry about how much of a perfect man I became without any of his guidance or help

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Most Helpful
Dec 30, 2018

Insecure af. Personally, I'd be scared of living with poor people for my entire life, shopping at Walmart, and competing sexually in some club on a dance floor, buying a drink at a time to get the attention of a clueless chick who thinks she's America's Next Top Model because some poor, hollering bastard is so horny he doesn't know what to do with himself.

It's scary when I think about all the stupid conversations I'd have to endure if I can't change scenery whenever I feel like it or when I'm not busy enough to have great excuses for skipping out on parties or get togethers with people I don't want to be around.

I mean, I love my family and pretty women are great. But, I would much rather control my environment and enjoy those things when I say it's a good time to. It's so hard to socialize when people's conversation is so idle we might as well all be dying.

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Dec 30, 2018

Solid, your candor is refreshing. +1

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Dec 31, 2018

I'm not sure I understand; why would you not be able to control your environment and who you socialize with if you're poor or 'unsuccessful'? I understand if you were referring to having to work in dead end jobs because you can't get better ones, but surely social environments are within most people's control?

Dec 31, 2018
sheldonxp:

I'm not sure I understand; why would you not be able to control your environment and who you socialize with if you're poor or 'unsuccessful'? I understand if you were referring to having to work in dead end jobs because you can't get better ones, but surely social environments are within most people's control?

You don't necessarily look for better friends, you look for more opportunities to find more friends by meeting new people. Social settings cost money, elevated social settings cost more money, and creating stickiness is an extra weekly/monthly expense, that would inevitably become difficult as life changes and you grow older. New relationships cost more as you get older too, because the less successful you are, the less I'd presume you have to offer those whom you meet. Once you exit college, it's all about what you offer.

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Dec 30, 2018

I would guess it gives a lot of folks a reason to live.

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Most Controversial
Dec 31, 2018

Personally, I grew up pretty broke. My parents did what they could to support our family (and always got us presents for Christmas), but most of the time it was a grind (dad came here with $70 bucks in his pocket, etc).

As I grew older, my dad was able to progress in life successfully (not a millionaire by any means though) and I was able to witness his success, though with "mo money comes Mo problems".

For me, it's so my future kids and generations after don't have to go through what I did growing up, wondering why we can't have nice things--or even wishing that we could be the rich kids on the block. As a first generation American and first generation college graduate, I have to change the narrative for all those after me.

My parents also drive me, because I want to be able to buy my dad a Lamborghini (he's a big car fan), and tell my mom that she can stop working at call centers/looking for admin jobs. I always visualize the day when I'll hand my parents a 7 figure check.

I also aspire to help put kids through college, and I'd like to establish a foundation to help the homeless at some point.

Lastly, I want to be the best person I can be in all aspects of my life--personally, professionally, and fiscally. I can't live with the thought or concept that I'll never reach my full potential as a person. If this means that I'm only capable of making $250k a year, that's okay, because at least I know I'm doing all I can in my power to progress in life. With this being said, however, I do think that money is an output of success. In the end, while more money is great (and the reason why we're in this industry), i'm not obsessed with it. When you're poor growing up, money is something you think about all the time, but I try not to get sucked into that mindset. I know at the end of the day, things are things, money is money, and you're bound to progress fiscally as long as you work hard and do your thing.

Ultimately, I want to be successful because I can do so much with the success I have to benefit others. It may sound cliche, corny, or stupid, but it's the honest truth. I want to live a great life, but I know when I'm on my deathbed, the impact I'll have on others is the most important thing I'll have in this life. Life also becomes a lot easier when you're motivated by things external to yourself.

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Dec 31, 2018

Whether it be academics, sports, or just personality, my family always seemed to use the people i surrounded myself by as a benchmark for what they wanted me to be. However, these comparisons often were them just stressing that enough was not enough. And honestly, it got pretty fucking annoying whenever they said "oh I bet X doesn't do this" or "I'm sure Y would have had this done with ease." No matter what I did, they really as if I was like so far behind the other kids I hung around with. Not sure if they just wanted to make me stronger or if they really thought it. It was really tiring always being put down, so I have been trying to do as much as possible with some pathetic hope that both my parents and friends and everyone would have some grand realization and see how far I've come and how I have become so much stronger of a person than anyone ever thought.

It's fucked because it kind of made my resent some of my closest friends in some weird selfish way. And now (save for my parents and a few others) many people in my family both sees me as a sellout who works in the industry that caused the recession and thinks I owe them something. Lmao as if. I just want them to see how much further I've come than them, and how I'm not afraid of their bullshit anymore.

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Dec 31, 2018

Due to the biochemistry of your brain. This may be or has been influenced by many other factors (genetics, social background, upbringing etc), but that's the crux of it. Nothing more than that, really. If you want to be "successful" (which, in itself, is an utterly pointless human construct), it's because your brain tells you so, for whatever reason.

To infinity... and beyond!

Dec 31, 2018

Money, power, respect, that's the key to life.

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Jan 1, 2019

i thought fulfillment is

Dec 31, 2018

I've noticed as I've progressed the less I care about the material. Why I want success is to afford the best in areas I may need to; oh relative died overseas no stress payinng $3k for same-day flight, oh dog has issue no prob paying for insurance and the $500 deductible, oh lunch break is occupied ok let me call Lulu to walk the dogs. Less stress with more money, if you don't keep stretching yourself out. I can get a 20% raise, but my expenses stay the same. I don't reach much further.

But also, it means I have a purpose. I couldn't work mundane jobs, I'd get bored. These jobs require high capacity and stimulate you.

Outside of that I'm quite low key, I still drive the same car I got in HS a long time ago, eat at hole in the walls wearing a t shirt and sweats, if I go to the gym it's planet fitness.

If you put 7 of my closest friends and I in a circle, I'll probably the most obvious choice for the least productive by looks. But in reality, am the most.

So the drive is different than others. I don't want the attention, I want the flexibility and stimulation.

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Dec 31, 2018

Do you find though that by pursuing the ability to have flexibility in these areas of your life, you end up spending so much time on your career that you actually have less flexibility in life overall? Like you may have more flexibility on one-off situations that you described, but less flexibility on average.

Dec 31, 2018
sheldonxp:

Do you find though that by pursuing the ability to have flexibility in these areas of your life, you end up spending so much time on your career that you actually have less flexibility in life overall? Like you may have more flexibility on one-off situations that you described, but less flexibility on average.

I don't work in IB, so no not really. I work basic 40 hours a week, maybe a little less or a little more.

Dec 31, 2018

I do it for the women. Women love IB analysts more than any other working professional - FACT

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Jan 2, 2019

I find most of your posts entertaining. But this is beyond false.
Tell her you're a banker--> Assumption is you're a bank teller.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZP7tFHbR8g

thots and prayers

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Dec 31, 2018

It all stems from having a chip on my shoulder. I have had outsiders doubt me constantly (my parents/family have been fantastic don't get me wrong). From not getting into a competitive, but not target school, to not getting an IB SA due to not being at a target (ended up recently securing a SA at a MM firm). I want to be successful because I want to never have to listen to these words again...to show everyone that my hard work can overcome any of their BS. Success brings financial freedom and confidence, two things that also are attractive to others (males and females).

My soul is highly leveraged

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Dec 31, 2018

I've gotten addicted to the feeling success brings me. I think it used to be about money and prestige and laying claim to being "better" than whoever... and to some extent it probably still is. But really anymore if I don't feel like I'm constantly succeeding I feel shitty and like I'm wasting my life/time. It's that feeling that I need, not the money.

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  • ij29824DE
  •  Dec 31, 2018

........

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Dec 31, 2018

Industriousness is a personality trait you are born with. There is really no deeper explanation than that.

Jan 14, 2019

I think upbringing has a lot to do with it too, at least in the demographic I grew up in. Many of the kids I went to high school with (mega-wealthy trust fund baby high-school) were completely ruined because their parents gave them whatever they desired without demanding any achievement (grades, athletic, summer work experience, etc...).

Being given everything without struggle, contrary to popular belief, actually causes severe self-esteem issues/depression. This usually leads to heavy drug use, rehab, etc... Most of the top personal achievers I see now are from the typical middle class background born into a family with strong values/morals. I think growing up in the top 1% actually leads to family regression in a majority of cases where the offspring drain the trust until nothing is left.

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Dec 31, 2018

Flat out cause I'm nothin without it.
being mediocre sucks, literally think of life as a game of poker.
Being mediocre means being dealt a crappy hand every single time. At least in my opinion.
Look at all the basic challenges average people have just trying to live life.
Being mediocre sucks 3x more being a guy, as literally everything is that much tougher.

It's the fear of being average that motivates me the most.
As stated by someone above, I don't care about prestige or anything, I just want to be rich as fuck. Liquid rich. Rich enough to have so much cash to not give a fuck. When I'm totally above what society expects from me, and there is no kind of code I have to stick to or whatever. That will be true freedom, the ability to truly be myself.

This clip from Boiler Room essentially explains my point of view. Skip to 1:02

thots and prayers

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Dec 31, 2018
2and20:

Flat out cause I'm nothin without it.
This clip from Boiler Room explains it. Skip to 1:02

I mean, they're literally stealing money from people professionally. This speech is entertaining, but it's the kind of attitude that leads to crime and unethical behavior.

Boiler Room is the original movie based on Jordan Belfort, who is a true scumbag.

Dec 31, 2018

I see what you're saying there. I just selected that specific part for the speech. I don't endorse criminal behavior in anyway. It's just a reflection of a mindset you know.

thots and prayers

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Jan 17, 2019

The problem with that mentality is that you probably won't ever get so rich that you can just not give a fuck. That kind of wealth is only possible if you have like have 8+ figures which you won't get until very late in your career. Even at that point you will probably still care a ton about what society expects from you since you'll probably have kids and friends and family.

I think going into finance just for the money is a recipe for burnout and disappointment.

Jan 17, 2019

You can't predict that. Everything is up for grabs.

thots and prayers

Jan 1, 2019

I think there is a part inside us all that yearns for progress. For myself, the meaning of life is to progress. Being successful in a career is just one way that we are able to prove to ourselves that we are making that progress. And I think a progressive mindset is great. It's not about making money, it's about being the very best you can be and learning to enjoy the process of refinement that progress takes you on.

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Jan 1, 2019

I dont care about being successful I'm doing the grind for two reasons only.

  1. Get the Fuck You Position. For me thats owning a ~500k condo, car paid and ~$1M in equity positions.
  2. Use said Fuck You Position to devote more time to fucking girls until i"m 35 then use same Fuck You Position to devote more time to building a family
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Jan 2, 2019
takenotes08:

2. Use said Fuck You Position to devote more time to fucking girls until i"m 35 then use same Fuck You Position to devote more time to building a family

Spoken so eloquently. That line is poetic.

thots and prayers

Jan 14, 2019

Ultimately what you describe boils down to controlling allocation of your time. Owning the schedule of your day without burden or oversight is the dream.

Jan 1, 2019

Some saying goes that it's because you want to redeem yourself.

Jan 1, 2019

Prestige is a drug. It would make me feel good to say I work at Goldman, Blackstone, Evercore, etc.

Also insecure, as I have done nothing noteworthy in my life, so chasing prestige fills that gap of never achieving anything.

Jan 1, 2019

To flex on the gram.

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Jan 1, 2019

By being successful I tell people to go and fuck themselves without verbalising it. But as I do my climb there's always someone at the current level who really needs to go and fuck themselves so I need to continue the climb to tell each new batch to do it

Jan 6, 2019

Since a young kid I obsess over things and I want to be the best. Not the best in my social group, the best in the world. I never thought about it until my teenage years. I am very consistent in what I do (e.g. same video games for years) and I try to constantly improve. It doesn't all work out and I know I will never be perfect or the best in everything. I'd say I'm actually pretty average but I have this mentality. If you're doing it, you might as well try to become the best. Whatever it is.

Over the years somehow I also started caring about perception of others (even though I dislike constant attention e.g. having a spotlight on me like celebrities do) and this is where prestige came.

P.S I'm actually not really average. I'm average in comparison to people in WSO who went to private school, then Ivy League/Oxbridge etc. But in comparison to people in my class or social circle, I'm lightyears ahead.

Jan 7, 2019

I'm just tired of being broke.

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Jan 7, 2019

Money/success = autonomy. Autonomy is something I value a lot.

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Jan 7, 2019

Nothing really attractive about the alternative.

Jan 12, 2019

Victory is etched in my brain and will forever be burning in my head until I reach it

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Jan 13, 2019

I have a chip on both of my shoulders.

I had a teacher that told me that I would never do anything with my life. My father told me that I would never go to college. My "friends" also doubted me. I am on a mission to prove them wrong.

I recently graduated from a target school and I now work in PE. I can count the number of true friends that actually believed in me on one hand.

Jan 13, 2019

It could be to reflect the respect and prestige that comes with being sucessful, a kind of self validation. It could be more so that people fear failing more than being sucessful.

People mature at different times. I think a lot of people don't know what they want to do in life, and if that's they case they might not give all of their effort if they don't even know what direction they want to go in life.

It seems that there is a path...work hard in school and get into a good college, work hard in college and get a good job. In order to validate all of that we want sucess. But, then it feels like we are told there are more important things in life than work. Doesn't that mean there are more important things than grades and college? To me it seems that work ethic is the best thing to learn to give you the best chance of attaining whatever it is you're after...i.e. it gives one the most amount of options. This is a very individual question, and one that I expect will change for people over their life.

Jan 14, 2019

I want to be wealthy so I can generate enough passive income to do with my time what I want. Materialistic pursuit is for fools. If you buy an Audi you will eventually want a Mercedes. After the Mercedes you will want a Maserati, etc... There is no final plateau of materialism that will create everlasting fulfillment/happiness.

Completely controlling the allocation of your time while sustaining a desired lifestyle is the dream.

Jan 14, 2019

You can be "successful" by starting a business - being an small-medium business owner/entrepreneur...see Andrew Carnegie et. al. Unfortunately there is a lunatic sub-group who are looking for hot girlfriends that see nothing other than being "bankers"....first generations...

Jan 14, 2019

My mother sold all the assets she had for us to move to the US when I was younger. My sole objective to rebuild everything and pay her back.

Cash and cash equivalents: $138,311
Financial instruments and other inventory positions owned: $448,166

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Jan 15, 2019

There is the pull and then the push.
The pull is being successful enough to fulfill other achievements I want in life, make sure I can take care of my future family and be a rock of the community.
The push is I waste a fuck ton of time without structure and a goal.

Jan 16, 2019

It keeps alot of us motivated to do stuff in life :)

Jan 17, 2019
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