Success

Winner
Winner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone likes to succeed at their endeavours, but not everyone is able to succeed for a number of reasons. People have varying drives to succeed, with some having little drive and others have a high level of the drive to succeed.

Maybe “succeed” is not the right word here as what I am referring to is the drive to create a company, or an artwork, or some other goal. Some people seem to have this urge almost from birth, such as top sports people, and some have some sort of “Damascene Moment“, where some event gives them reason to achieve some goal.

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...
the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus as painted by Michelangelo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actually St Paul is probably not a good example of what I am talking about as he already had a goal (persecution of the Christians) and his goal was changed dramatically. Many others, however, have experienced conversion events to many different religions. Some however have experienced more gradual conversions.

It is not my intent to argue that sudden or gradual conversions to any religion or creed are real mystical or religious events. They may give the person a life long belief in the creed or religion, but in many cases such conversion may moderate or fade over time.

English: Parish church of the conversion of Pa...
English: Parish church of the conversion of Paul the Apostle, Vrhnika, Slovenia. Slovenščina: Župnijska cerkev spreobrnitve Sv. Pavla na Vrhniki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the big religious revivals in the US such as those run by Billy Graham people at the rallies were encouraged to make a public declaration of their faith and millions did so. The pressure and excitement engendered by the event most likely resulted in people being swept along and making declarations and later reconsidering.

People who succeed in things are focussed individuals who have a clear goal, and do not see or discount the difficulties in achieving their goals, whatever they might be. Others, who are less driven would more likely see the difficulties, and indeed, such difficulties may be overwhelming.

Depth-of-focus
Depth-of-focus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The media is happy to promote success stories, such as this one, and they are supposed to be inspirational. The person mentioned in the article appears to have been successful, with a high powered job and a similarly high powered lifestyle, only to lose it all. The story ends on an upbeat as the person succeeds in turning her life around.

This little example shows a couple of things. Firstly, although she was successful, her life crashed and burnt, and secondly, she turned her life around but her goals were now set much lower.


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Many people who attempt to become successful crash and burn like she did both before and after becoming successful. Also, she was successful in turning her life around, achieving a different sort of success.

That’s an interesting point – one form of success is to acquire lots of money, property, possessions. Another form of success is to be able to enjoy oneself in a hedonistic way, usually as a result of acquiring money, property, etc.

English: "The" Cranstal Cottage (now...
English: “The” Cranstal Cottage (now vacant and for sale) near Cranstal, Isle of Man My grandfather came from the Isle of Man to Missouri back in 1852 and became a successful farmer. We (my wife and I) have visited the IOM twice and love it! We were looking for property to buy and found Cranstal Cottage, the same one shown in the photo with the palm tree in the front, taken front on back in 2005 [33942] Now it is quite overgrown with no one living there and for sale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
However, such successes may not provide happiness, and indeed money may not buy happiness for many people. To achieve happiness one may need to give up such worldly wealth and adopt a simpler life. Others may find other ways to achieve happiness, for instance, in a job which they enjoy, and achieving happiness may, in many cases, equate to achieving success in life.

Personal success can come as a result of success in other fields, of course, and worldly success, such as starting and running a successful business, is almost always considered to be any achievement worthy of public approbation.

English: A Chinese man going about his business.
English: A Chinese man going about his business. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However many newly started businesses fail. This does not hurt just the entrepreneur, but also anyone who has come to depend on the new business and those who have invested in the business. Normally a start up gets finance from friends and relatives in the first place and only wins finance from other sources later.

Some entrepreneurs have a history of failure. Some fail multiple times causing severe financial distress to friends and relatives. However, if such start ups were banned, this would severely hamper the evolution and growth of businesses. Such companies as Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Facebook, and Google, not to mention Amazon and similar would perhaps not have come about.


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However, it is worth noting that Richard Branson, whose Virgin companies are well known, and who is now trying to conquer space commercially, came from a fairly well to do family. Mark Zucherberg, also came from a fairly well to do family. Bill Gates of Microsoft had a similar background. It seems that having a well to do family helps one succeed as an entrepreneur.

Of course, that’s a sweeping generalisation and would need a lot more data to justify. It might be that the reason, if there is one, for such a correlation, is genetic, and successful people may often come from families that have an entrepreneurial gene. It may be that the reason if cultural, and that children of successful people learn from their families how to succeed.

English: Renowned speaker, author, entrepreneu...
English: Renowned speaker, author, entrepreneur and artist Jewel Daniels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If there is a correlation, this doesn’t bode well for the children of the less well off. They either don’t have the genes for success, or the don’t have the environment for success. Nevertheless some of them do succeed, against the odds.

A successful businessman or woman is like a successful athlete – an athlete is more likely to be successful if he comes from a successful sporting family. Such a family is more likely to provide the support that any aspiring athlete needs and will have provided a successful gene set to their sporting children.

English: Owen Hamilton represents Jamaica in t...
English: Owen Hamilton represents Jamaica in the 800 meter track and field team event at the 1984 Summer Olympics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A family that knows how to compete will be able to inspire in their children the will to succeed if they follow in the family footsteps. However the child will need to have the intrinsic ability to perform, if he or she is to approach or even exceed parental achievements.

I think of this whenever someone points to someone who has achieved success in business or their life and remarks that this person shows what dedication and hard work can achieve. The implication is that anyone who does not succeed isn’t dedicated enough and is lazy.


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This implication is just not true. No matter how hard I try, if I trained every day, there is no way that I could become a top athlete. Such athletes are anomalous phenomena. They are gifted individuals, and this should be recognised. In business, as in athletics, it takes more, much more, than hard work and dedication to succeed. Thomas Edison‘s adage is true, but without the one per cent inspiration, which comes to few, it is all just sweat.

None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

All things are connected

English: computer network IP address
English: computer network IP address (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are networks everywhere. Not just the Internet or the LAN at work, but everywhere. A network could loosely be defined as being comprised of a number of nodes and a number of connections between them. A node is a point or thing which is connected through a connection to another node. A connection is what joins nodes together. This rather circular definition will do for now.

A family can be described by a network. Let’s consider a typical average nuclear family with parents and 2.4 kids. Errm, on second thoughts, lets make that 3 kids. If each person in the family is a node, we can’t really have 0.4 of a kid.

A Date with Your Family
A Date with Your Family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So there are multiple connections between any one family member and another. The father has a connection with his wife, his daughter and his sons. The daughter has connections with her father, her mother and her brothers. One way that this could be shown in a diagram is to draw a pentagon, each vertex of which is a member of the family and lines between the family member showing the relationships.

That’s a total of 15 interrelationships in a small family. Actually depending on the way you look at it, there may be more, as the father is the father of his daughter but the daughter is not the father of the father (obviously). This can be looked at at two relationships, one from father to daughter (A is B’s father) and another from the daughter to the father (B is A’s daughter), or one relationship between father and daughter.


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If you consider that there are two relationships between any two family members, then each relationship can be considered to have a direction and a value. “A is B’s brother” and “B is A’s brother”, for example. Alternatively the relationship could be simple viewed as “brothers”, in which case the relationship has a value, but is non-directional.

I’ve described the familiar relationships in detail to hopefully bring out the facts that relationships between nodes and connections can be complex or describe complex situations. It’s entirely a matter of what you want the network to show.

English: Semantic Network with 7 nodes and 6 links
English: Semantic Network with 7 nodes and 6 links (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet is what people tend to think of when someone says “network” and it is indeed a complex network with myriads of interconnections across the globe, but in another way it is quite simple. Basically you have a computer, say your desktop or laptop, connected to the Internet. When you request a webpage, your request is sent to another node on the network, which then sends it to another node, and that forwards it on to yet another node and eventually the request arrives at the destination.

The clever part is that you might think that every “node” on the Internet needs to know where all the other nodes are, but in fact all it needs to know is where to send the request next.

English: nodes
English: nodes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems almost magical. Your computer doesn’t know where wordpress.com is, though it does look up its unique address (known as an IP address). It still doesn’t know where wordpress.com is, so it sends the request and the IP address to your ISP. Your ISP looks at the IP address and sees that it isn’t one local to the ISP, so it passes it on.

As noted above the message is passed on and on until it reaches its destination and then more magic happens as the remote machine responds to the request and sends the response all the way back. It may even travel back by a different route.


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The magic is that some of the nodes know around 200,000 addresses on the Internet and where the next step should go. These addresses are in the most part partial in that the address will be like the street address, without the building number.

So although the Internet is a complex network with many many connections between nodes, the basic principle by which it works is simple, based on an address lookup system (DNS) and a simple unique address for each device on the Internet.


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(OK there’s more to it than that, but the complexities are mainly at the “edges” of the Internet and mainly spring from the need for security and for organisations to have a “gateway” or single address on the Internet).

When we plan a journey over the road network, we generally have some idea of where we are going or we get out a map. We then scan it for the start and end of our journey and work out what direction we need to travel and the intermediate towns.

1945 map of the Pentagon road network, includi...
1945 map of the Pentagon road network, including present-day State Route 27 and part of the Shirley Highway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But if we travelled like a message travels on the Internet we would first travel to the nearest town and ask someone where we need to go to get to our destination. He or she would point us to the next town to which he or she believes we should go. We would then travel to the next destination and ask again.

It would seem that such a process could result in us going round and round in circles, but eventually we will reach a place where the traffic director knows a large part of the roading network and is able to redirect us to another city which is known to be closer to our destination. Once we are on the right road, the process will eventually result in us reaching our destination.

Road to the A48 near Llancarfan - geograph.org...
Road to the A48 near Llancarfan – geograph.org.uk – 1297530 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another network is the network formed by people we know and the people that they know, and the people that they know and so on. There is a theory that to from you, to someone you know to someone they know and so on, it takes six or less steps to reach any person on the planet. This is referred to as “six degrees of separation“.

Similar numbers can be calculated for smaller sets of people. The Kevin Bacon Number relates movie stars through films that they have starred in with other people. Number higher than 4 are rare. The Erdős Number relates people by the number of scientific papers that they have co-authored.

head of Paul Erdös, Budapest fall 1992
head of Paul Erdös, Budapest fall 1992 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These somewhat whimsical numbers do demonstrate how closely linked the human race is. So far as I know no study has been done of the importance of bridging individuals is. I’m talking about those who perhaps emigrate to a country, thereby directly linking together two populations that may be less loosely connected, increasing the connectivity and reducing the number of degrees of separation.

Six degrees of separation.
Six degrees of separation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)