The definition of success can vary from one individual to the next. For instance, a student may view success as receiving a scholarship to attend an Ivy League school, such as Harvard or Yale. To a mother, success may be living to see her child become an influential member of society. Thus, success is the accomplishment of a goal, regardless of its complexity. Once attained, success elicits feelings of completion and happiness. But how can someone reach his or her destination? Surely, a student cannot graduate through his or her own effort alone. Despite popular belief, success is not only determined by ambition or intelligence; it is dependent on an individual’s cultural background. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the lives of prosperous individuals such as Bill Gates: the founder of Microsoft Corporation. After different factors such as wealth and status are taken into account, Gladwell states that cultural background is the most important factor that impacts success. Culture is what shapes our personalities, values and opinions. Language, food, religion and music are components of culture. Although many people consider culture as a trivial issue, it should be paid closer attention because it positively influences success by instilling a desire for development, creating a sense of direction, and creating a sense of pride.
To begin with, cultural values can inspire development. Malcolm Gladwell notes that the Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late nineteenth century were zealous. Their initial “autonomy and complexity” are traits that are visible in their descendants today (156). Jewish ancestors displayed an eagerness to learn the different fashions present in the early 1900’s. Thus, they were able to dominate the fashion industry in New York. Furthermore, modern Jews are not only intelligent; they are able to put their knowledge into practice. By observing and mirroring their parents work ethic, the younger Jewish generation was inspired to take education seriously; this cultural advantage is the reason behind the prominence of Jews in different professional and artistic fields. Another cultural advantage possessed by Jews is their ability to work in unison. Since they were often victims of discrimination, they were often isolated from other groups. Their ability to socialize and rely on each other for support has added to their success. It is in these small communities that they were able to develop close relationships and develop their practical skills. Jewish culture encourages learning and personal development. These distinct cultural attributes helped increase success within the Jewish community. Clearly, the values that culture instills can increase success within a group of people.
In addition to motivating learning and development, culture provides individuals with the determination to create a focus for the future and carry out their dreams. Because former South African president Nelson Mandela was privileged to grow up around a culture which encouraged political activity, he was able to handle the responsibility of serving as president. The tribal government system is an important aspect of African culture. At the head of the people, there is a paramount chief. The paramount chief is responsible for making key decisions in the village. Mandela was born and raised in “Qunu village” and took on an early leadership role as “the advisor to the paramount chief in the Thembu Court” (Keller). This position allowed him to develop his speaking skills, gain confidence and learn the skill of persuasion. In an attempt to change the fate of blacks in his country, Mandela campaigned and rose to fame on the political scene.Due to his strong political foundation and charismatic personality, he was able to gain support from many individuals locally and internationally. Mandela had a dream and was able to bring it to fruition because of the cultural context