"Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure -- and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work."
This presentation was at last week's TEDGlobal conference held at Oxford, UK.
Alain's reference to St. Augustine's City of God was excellent because whether you believe in a God, gods or no gods, such thinking puts you in a certain perspective. I believe much of what we have achieved is by grace or what others would call luck. I am not disregarding personal and professional development, but believe that the starting point in life is a huge driving factor of "success" or comfort in life.
If I was not blessed to be born into a stable family with loving parents and a modest amount of wealth, life would have been very different today than if I was born into poverty. I still remember the children from Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here who never assumed adulthood was a given.
"If I grow up, I want to be a bus driver..."
It's not just about wealth. It's a blessing to grow up healthy without a major accident or disability. Or a difficult family situation. These are all factors into the development of relational success, financial success and professional success.
If you accept the premise of a supreme being or a force far greater than yourself, then your personal ego or idol of self becomes smaller and you accept the uncertainty of success, failure and everything in between.