We often wonder what the most successful means – successful in this case meaning those that have achieved a great deal and accomplished a level of self-actualization. How do these people reach these great heights and is it greed, family, money etc. that keeps them going over the top?
Well, if you take a closer look at the world’s most influential people you might notice a similar pattern; they have all the above traits and more. Greed to be more successful, drive to excel further than their nearest competitors and a huge sense of responsibility to leave their loved ones in complete posterity. So if you break it down, it’s quite simple – they are never satisfied.
Behavioral Psychologists like Richard Lazarus believe that it is an innate desire to achieve, in fact, if he does not term it as desire but more like a feeling of continuous want of recognition and acceptance. He believes that this sort of intrinsic motivation stems from early development years and usually manifests itself in antisocial behavior that leads to a life of delinquency or even crime. The individual is needy, unsatisfied and restless, sound familiar? Well, he also states that in the rare 10% of the cases we have our top achievers and they exhibit the same traits that fall behind in society. Lazarus believes that the crucial difference lies in environmental factors that include but are not limited to parenting, social circles etc.
Some other leading Psychologists in Self Development such as Moosa Banajah says that this exhibition of high proliferation towards success and achievement is in part due to superior intrinsic motivation which fuels the drive to excel no matter what the cost is. According to his lectures, he states that as individuals we want to have more money to buy better things, to achieve more posterity to garner recognition, to keep climbing even at great heights of success to satisfy our own selves – to be able to achieve self-actualization. His work is built on an improvement upon Maslow’s Hierarchy. As such he maintains that every individual’s self-actualization is different but the commonality is that it’s rarely realized. This dissatisfaction is the primary driving force that keeps the elite on a pattern of constant achievement.
A widely different theory that has been proposed by the more existentialist researchers is that it’s a birthright. Putting it simply; it is the intrinsic talent and impulse that gives that evolutionary edge in excelling well beyond the capacity of our peers and it is this evolutionary edge that makes us highly inclined to excel in academics, business, and even family life. The theory, although controversial, has gained notoriety over the past few decades.
So whichever side you do find yourself on; whether it be the fine-line mechanics of behavior of Lazarus, the motivational edge of Moosa or the evolutionary edge theory of the existentialist researchers there is still that one equation common in all their formulas and that is intelligence combined with hard work is within everyone’s reach because 90% of the world is, in fact, the average person.