People tend to form glamorous visions of success in their heads. The power suits, corner offices, corporate luxuries, the fame. While it’s not wrong to aspire for such, they shouldn’t form an obsession. Stereotypes of success distract from the actual legwork in getting there.
Part of that legwork is getting a feel of the ground. The most compelling success stories are truly bottom-up. Think of a startup founder toiling away in his or her garage, building an online platform for a target market with minimal resources at his or her disposal. Or a CEO who started as a sales professional then progressed up the ladder through sheer hard work and loyalty. There are countless examples out there, and people must not be cynical about hard work when they hear stories of nepotism in the office or when they are bogged down by workplace politics.
Success is really just a benchmark for having created or done something for the benefit of others, whether a target market, a community, or simply the general public. Its key component is service, whether in the form of time, knowledge, or resources. And while recognition from others should not be the primary goal, service gets a person in touch with others, hence setting off a culture and base of cooperation and assistance in the achievement of personal goals.
The character-forming training that is service should not be calculated. Ergo, service must not be used as a way to the top. It should be practiced for what it really is — an opportunity for skills development and socialization.