Skip to comments.Success Traits
Posted on 01/30/2014 4:45:20 AM PST by Kaslin
As parents of two middle schoolers (eighth grade and sixth) my husband and I spend time attempting to help them develop characteristics that we believe are useful and good.
Looking others in the eye when talking, a firm handshake and the ability to carry on a conversation are just a few of these skills. We encourage them to work hard and do well in school. We put emphasis on them working hard and doing their best, rather than the outcome or the grade itself.
Like most parents, we want our children to be successful. A recent New York Times article, "What Drives Success," by two Yale Law School professors and the authors of the forthcoming book "The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America," has given me pause. Are we helping them develop the traits that will lead to success?
According to Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, three key traits drive success. While all Americans might have equal opportunity to become economically successful, the authors point out that the statistics of group success (and failure) provide evidence that opportunity does not necessarily translate into a given outcome.
"Indian-Americans earn almost double the national figure (roughly $90,000 per year in median household income versus $50,000). Iranian-, Lebanese- and Chinese-Americans are also top-earners. In the last 30 years, Mormons have become leaders of corporate America, holding top positions in many of America's most recognizable companies. These facts don't make some groups 'better' than others, and material success cannot be equated with a well-lived life," they wrote, "But willful blindness to facts is never a good policy."
"Jewish success is the most historically fraught and the most broad-based. Although Jews make up only about 2 percent of the United States' adult population, they account for a third of the current Supreme Court; over two-thirds of Tony Award-winning lyricists and composers; and about a third of American Nobel laureates," they point out.
"It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex -- a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite -- insecurity, a feeling that you or what you've done is not good enough. The third is impulse control," they conclude.
The superiority complex provides the belief that success is possible, and insecurity is the engine that drives the behavior to work harder than others. The combination of the two is powerful. Impulse control allows for continued focus on the end result (whether completion of a task, a project or achievement of a goal) rather than being distracted into doing something frivolous and unimportant.
The authors point out that these traits not only drive success in individuals and groups, but also in nations. "The United States itself was born a Triple Package nation, with an outsize belief in its own exceptionality, a goading desire to prove itself to aristocratic Europe (Thomas Jefferson sent a giant moose carcass to Paris to prove that America's animals were bigger than Europe's) and a Puritan inheritance of impulse control."
It's not only our heritage as a nation, but our continued belief in our exceptionalism as a nation, that propels us forward. Every generation has it's own form of insecurity based on the external threats from other nations.
The one trait that seems to be the most useful is the ability to control impulses. Impulse control is a self-reinforcing mechanism, if hard work is actually rewarded with a good outcome. It's harder to acquire this trait if hard work is not rewarded or if a reward is given for no work at all.
If these traits are important to driving success, then how might they be instilled in more people? Is it possible for multiple groups to believe that they each are superior to the other? Instead of instilling a sense of fairness and equality, and ensuring a confident child, should we intentionally instill a little doubt, to make sure that the feeling of insecurity drives them to work a little harder?
Imagine how successful Jews could be if they voted in conservative representatives.
It sounds like one of the better definitions of ‘courage’ that I have heard.
It has been said that courage is the combination of himility and daring.... and I think that is what is going on here, too.
Now turn it around — can you think of a group that has been taught to think like this:
1) Everyone is prejudiced azgainst people like me.
2) Good thing my self-esteem is sky-high. I am the greatest.
3) Instant gratification is what its all about. Let,s get down and party.
As liberals, they created a black surrogacy to do what they lacked numbers to do
Yeah, I can
4. I just need to hit someone.
5. They didn’t earn that.
Good points here. But I question the use of the term “superiority complex”. Not a psychologist, but I seem to recall that this term refers to an aberration, so I think the correct description should be something along the lines of “exceptional self-confidence”.
Couldn’t impulse control a result of the combo superiority complex and inferiority. I’m not good enough so I have to be careful with what I have earned during my outstanding result periods cause it may not last? Which then feeds on itself through compounding savings - financially or favors/friends socially?
Actually in the 90s a book called “Emotional Intelligence” came out that covered a lot of this, especially the delayed gratification part. Unfortunately at least one high profile conservative knocked the concept, and I have to suspect he didnt read the whole thing. Anyway, there’s this thing the author called EQ that proved to be at least as important as IQ. We all know unsuccessful, unhappy people with very high IQs. Some might call it character, heart, common sense, personality, street smarts or people skills. It’s a bit of all of those. But ability to delay gratification is a recurring theme. In the famous marshmallow study, 4 year olds were given marshmallows and told that they could either eat them now or hang onto them( I don’t know for how long but were talking 4 year olds so probably not long) and be given another one later. Those who chose to eat their marshmallow right away didnt get another. Children who managed to wait turned out to be more successful later in life than the others.
That eye contact thing is a bad one. I’m sure that Ive missed out on job offers because of it, but Ive always hated making eye contact.
Con artists are aware of the importance of eye contact and handshakes in our culture and usually look you in the eye and cultivate a good handshake.