Do successful people hold the secret to life?

I’ll begin by quoting a successful techpreneur and investor, Naval Ravinkant. I think he said something like “every path eventually leads to philosophy”. I know quoting him at the start of such a title is a bit of a paradox. But bear with me…it’s intentional. I do agree with him in that statement though. It’s either I am growing old or have too much time on my hands because I seem to be thinking a lot about the mental frames in which I have built my life.

Anyway, this is a subject that has bugged me for a long time. Firstly, I am not discrediting that there is a lot that can be learned by studying and observing successful people, in whatever capacity. But there’s something that has, for a long time, bugged me about how much we hero-worship successful people.

So, as always, where did the inspiration for this piece come from? The first obvious place is mere observation. I happen to be in an industry where people perceived as successful are listened to more than others. Their opinions hold a lot more weight. But the true inspiration sprung from a conversation I had last year with colleagues of mine. I can’t recall exactly what we were talking about but the conversation veered into finance. We started arguing about M-Pesa, Libra, and bitcoins replacing M-Pesa. One colleague mentioned that bitcoin will eventually replace all currencies. His main argument? Naval Ravinkant held the same opinion. I was stunned, to say the least. But I also understood where he was coming from. Naval is, after all, a billionaire — and so why wouldn’t he be right?

We have embraced a hustle culture. Work 120 hours a week because there’s a group of individuals who did that and they became successful. Don’t get me started about the number of articles about “secrets from successful people” that are littered everywhere online. “9 amazing secrets of successful people”, “7 secrets of success that can change your life”. Isn’t it enough?

What happened to critical thinking? Questioning opinions? And only agreeing or disagreeing after? Isn’t it time we developed a sense of individuality? Of figuring out what works for you? Of seeking to gain understanding instead of simply following because…that is what successful people do? A group seeks consensus, individuals seek the truth.

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Building products somewhere in Africa. Sometimes I write.

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