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What factors actually help determine our success?

March 18, 2017

Americans admire “rags to riches stories.” They tend to believe that if you start out with very little but work hard, you can be successful and achieve your goals.

Unfortunately, for many people, that is not the case. In fact, it is rather rare.

Here are a few factors that contribute to success:  the time period in which you were born, your socioeconomic background, and your parental guidance, or influences.

Students from lower income backgrounds were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their wealthier peers, but those who did hold a growth mindset were appreciably buffered against deleterious effects of poverty on achievement”

— Carol S.Dweck

These factors alone don’t predict the degree of failure or success you will face in the future. It is important to be aware of these factors, so that you know how to manipulate your circumstances to be successful in life.

The time period in which you are born is a very important factor. It can determine to some degree the success or failure you will face in your career.

Canadian psychologist Roger Barnsley conducted a study on the phenomenon of relative age. He  tallied up all of the NHL players who were born from 1980 to 1990. A large number of NHL hockey players were born in January, February, and March.

Why?

Because the Canada eligibility cutoff for the age-class hockey team is January 1.

This means that children who are born early in the year can be up to a year older than those born later in the year. When you are that young, that makes a huge difference in physical maturity. Since the January-March children do well so early,the children are given more coaching and more hours of practice.

Let’s take a look at the birth dates of successful businessmen. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best seller “Outliers”, a book about what makes people successful, took a list of the top 75 richest people in American history. Fourteen of the 75 richest people were born in the 1860’s-1870’s.

Why? That is because America went through the greatest transformation in its history. Railroads, Wall Street, industrial manufacturing, and all of the rules by which the traditional economy had functioned was broken. That decade of opportunity was perfect for entrepreneurs to change the future.

People born into poverty have trouble climbing the socioeconomic ladder, mainly because they are provided fewer opportunities to succeed. This may include education, jobs, internships, etc…

While that remains true, did you know that the socioeconomic background you were raised in  affects your mindset?

Believe it or not, your mindset is an important factor in how successful you will be in the future.

There are two different mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. The growth mindset comes from the belief that you can improve your skills and circumstances. The fixed mindset comes from belief that your skills are carved into stone, and can’t be improved.

A study from Stanford psychology professor Carol S.Dweck states in her research that family income is a strong predictor in future achievement. Students from lower income backgrounds were less likely to hold a growth mindset, and students from higher income backgrounds tended to hold a growth mindset.

Your mindset is not limited to your social class. Your class can affect your mindset, but no matter what background you come from, you can still obtain the growth mindset, and be successful. “Students from lower income backgrounds were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their wealthier peers, but those who did hold a growth mindset were appreciably buffered against deleterious effects of poverty on achievement,” said Dweck.

 

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