What makes people successful?

From Amy Chua and Ben Rubenfeld:

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.

Any individual, from any background, can have what we call this Triple Package of traits. But research shows that some groups are instilling them more frequently than others, and that they are enjoying greater success.

It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.

I’m not sure I agree with this, and the ethnic characterizations in the article leave me uncomfortable. For example, do successful people have “a superiority complex”, or rather strong belief in their own potential? These are  not the same — one is relative to other people, the other is entirely personal. But the article is thought provoking nonetheless.

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