NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

“There is no man living who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.”
Henry Ford

Social disparagement catalyzes success

Want to do great things? Stand out from the crowd? Achieve more than you ever thought possible?

Countless millions of people would love that, but only a small fraction succeed. The tragedy is that almost everyone could succeed beyond their wildest dreams, helping not only themselves but everyone else because we're all in this together. Your success indirectly helps me and others because you're adding to the system, not draining it, and whatever great things you do may directly help us.

But there's a major stumbling block that hinders success: most of us are so fixated on social acceptance we exhaust energy striving to achieve it, which we do by erecting a veneer that's better than we really are. Example: Project Implicit found that “three-quarters of whites have an implicit pro-white/anti-black bias,” and even one of the professors involved in that project harbors that bias. Yet how many people will admit to it? After years of being called “nigger nose” and “nigger lips” even though I'm only part black and no one ever had any justification for such verbal abuse, I know how eager many people are to belittle others whether or not they express it.

But I'm not here to berate you for being less than perfect, because I am, too. I'm here to help you become more successful. Ironically, the major obstacle standing in your way is something you and others do: striving for a better veneer to augment your social acceptance. By doing that, you're doing the exact opposite of what has been proven to catalyze success. Research demonstrates that social rejection fuels motivation.

In one of my sites that gives advice to students aspiring to become doctors, I discussed that in detail because we all need a kick in the butt—frequently, not just once or twice. I graduated in the top 1% of my class in medical school, but what did I do for years afterward? Coast in neutral and waste potential I never realized I had. Then, finally, I got in high gear and accomplished things I never thought possible by anyone, let alone me.

It would be wonderful if we could bask in social acceptance and still keep in overdrive, but that's not human nature. People, myself included, tend to be lazy. We do enough to get by or achieve a modest level of success, such as when I earned $300,000 per year (adjusted for inflation in 2013 dollars) as an ER doctor.

Once we're not starving, the usual motivations don't suffice. We need something much stronger; we need social rejection. In reading my article on it, keep Warren Buffett's rhetorical question in mind: “Would you prefer to be the greatest lover in the world and known as the worst, or would you prefer to be the worst lover and known as the greatest?

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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