Welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. This is Ken.
And for today we are going to talk about success and failure.
I guess it’s going to be an interesting topic.
It will be. So, Maria, let’s start off with your definition of success. What does it mean to you?
Well, it’s a tricky question I must admit. I think that all in all success it’s when a person achieved and accomplished everything that they planned for some time period and when they feel content about it. What do you think?
Well for me success is all about the attainment of your goals similar to your definition. For me of course you know it takes time, perseverance, for you to be able to say that you have really succeeded. And of course you have to meet all of the goals for you to feel the sense of satisfaction. Only then will you be able to say that you have indeed succeeded.
Which brings me to the question is it always a person, him himself or her herself who can estimate their success? OR can other people also estimate how successful you are?
You know, we are different with different standards, just like happiness, every person as his or her own definition or measure of happiness. In the same way that if we talk about success – we have our individual, you know, definitions and of course people who are from, you know, let’s say, the people around you, they can also judge by themselves whether you’re successful or not.
But then again it will depend on the standard that they have. But at the end of the day for me success will depend on individual him or herself because it’s you who is trying to meet the goals that you have set or yourself. And if you feel that in your heart that you have achieved them, then I believe that you have achieved success.
But does that meant that from someone else’s point of view you can be regarded as a not successful person.
Well, that’s a very good question, because as I’ve said earlier, it’s relative. Maybe in your mind and in your heart you personally believe that you are successful, but in the eyes of other people you’re not. So the definition is really relative – it depends on the person and what standards they have for success.
Okay. So does it mean that we can’t measure success?
Well, it’s hard to measure. I don’t think that there are set standards for that, but it will depend on each person I guess.
Yeah, I would agree, I would agree with you here.
Because for me for example how do I measure success? When it comes to work, for example, if I organize an activity, I measure it in terms of it how much of the goal was achieved and the quality of the end result, say for example, an event at school and then if, for example, I have met my expectations or even beyond that, then I can say that is a true measure of success.
Which again brings me to one more question. So for example, we as teachers set some educational goal, right, let’s say, it is a lesson and you start a new activity and you haven’t reached your educational goal. But all students had fun and they were very involved – is it success?
In some way yes, because you know, if we talk about educational process, it’s not just absorbing information, but having fun at the same time.
On one end you can say that there is some sort of success, because from the point of view of the students, they enjoyed it, it wasn’t burdensome for them. But I wouldn’t say it is totally successful because if you specifically set some criteria, like, were they able to speak very well at the end of the course. Or be able to improve their comprehension skills.
If it’s not totally met, then I wouldn’t say it’s complete success there. I would say partly.
Now, what part does luck play in success?
Luck. Well, to me success is more of labor, it’s more about labor and maybe hard work. Because if we distinguish between success and happiness then it’s like success it’s the result of something as I have previously said.
And maybe happiness is the feeling in the middle, in the process, in the way. That’s why luck… Well, I’m not sure, of course there are people who are luckier than others. Well, do you have any ideas on this?
You know what, I hate to say this one, and again, some of our listeners will probably agree or disagree.
Well, they can leave their comments.
For example, in my class every time the name of Olga Buzova is brought up, some people say that…
Yeah. Well, some would claim that she’s not exactly a talented person, but…
Some… I’m sorry, the majority…
Majority I guess. But then again you cannot deny her success. The fact that she is extremely popular, she has lots and lots of followers on Youtube, on Instagram, on fact, millions of followers. So there’s gotta be some sort of success there.
Which is so surprising, you know, I have never thought that it’s a real star, a real celebrity, but she obviously is. Which makes me feel not jealous, but, you know, puzzled. So why?
It’s a mystery. That’s why… That’s where luck comes in. Because you know, there are people who weren’t really born talented or very smart, but then they have luck on their side. Maybe because they were surrounded with the right people.
It’s just the right timing that, you know, everything comes into play and then eventually they achieve some level of success.
Yeah, maybe their talent is to meet these people and to be able to feel the right moment, not to be afraid of it.
And to a certain degree I believe she has charisma, because come on, she wouldn’t have all these millions of followers if she didn’t have one. And again, going back to the theory of luck, I believe that certain people out there, they are able to achieve success because they are lucky in a way.
Yeah, does it make you feel jealous of them? Like, for example, we need to work hard to work hard to achieve something to be successful, and others just are born this way.
You know, for some reason they were born into rich families. I don’t necessarily feel envious or jealous of them, but it’s one of those things in life that makes you think life is really, I hate to say this, but life is unfair.
We’re not born with the same abilities, with the same knowledge or in this case luck, cause as I’ve already said there are those who are born into rich families. And you know, it’s proper timing sometimes, I don’t feel bad for them, it’s just, you know, it just makes me come to the conclusion that life is really unfair.
Exactly. Because I know a lot of talented people who don’t make it big. Singers who are, I would say, small time singers who don’t really you know, make it big time in the mainstream music industry.
Maybe they are not ambitious enough.
Well there are a lot of factors that you must consider.
Yes, sure, sure. Success is a complex structure.
Absolutely. And talent alone does not guarantee success.
It’s just the way it is in life.
So speaking of, or maybe, not speaking of Olga Buzova anymore, still, there are some people who can be kind of role models or something like that. Can we learn from other people’s success and failure? Their stories?
Absolutely. I hate to sound shallow right now, it’s not just…
No no, not her, thank goodness. Okay. But I’d like to mention Christina Aguilera, if some of my students are listening right not, for sure they’re gonna say of course, Ken is gonna say Christina Aguilera.
I’m sorry to ask, but is still on stage? Is she still performing? Because I don’t know a lot about her, I don’t know much about her.
Well she isn’t as popular as she used to be back in the early 2000s, but she still releases album every now and then, but they’re not as big anymore as in the past. When it comes to her, I see her as a good role model, or for me she is a good example of a successful person
because she didn’t exactly start big in life, she was a product of a broken family which means of course that you know, her parents divorced. And she had a rough…
Of course it affected her in a way.
Absolutely. But despite of these things that happened to her, including bullying at school…
For her talent. There were a lot of jealous girls. They were threatened by her voice, because she has you now, a huge beautiful voice. But despite that, she turned all the negative around her into something positive. And she invested in her talent.
And you know, she became one of the biggest I would say pop start out there. And one more ting is that she has this strong character that is evidence in her songs. There’s one in particular, it’s called Fighter that was released in 2003. *sings*
So it’s basically about, you know, facing all the challenges in life and not letting yourself down or the people around you to pull you down every time they say negative things about you.
Did she write the lyrics by herself?
It was co-written, it was by her and by another writer. But basically, a part of this song is about her life and her struggles. So for me she is a good example of a person who’s truly successful, because her childhood was rough, it wasn’t exactly the type of childhood you would imagine for a pop star.
But she triumphed and she became successful. And today she gives back to community. She’s actually an ambassador for UNICEF, so it’s an international organization that helps people who are in need, especially children, so she does some kind of charity work.
Yeah, good example. I think we have some more good examples of celebrities or stars, pop stars, rock stars who started like, from poor families and so on, but then they became famous, rich and successful of course. And actors I guess, lots of them, were doing different random jobs before they starred in some film and then their success story began.
Exactly. And they got big. What about you? Is there anyone, doesn’t have to be popular though, or famous, that you somehow look up to?
You know, I maybe don’t look up to people in terms of their success, but when in terms of your behavior. There are some people who I admire and respect in some ways. For example, like, my grandfather was a big role model for me.
I respected and I loved him a lot for being who he was, and he taught me a lot. Well, he wasn’t famous, but I guess he was successful in life. He was a good engineer, he was a good professional, he was a good family guy. So that’s what I think maybe, real man if we can have this definition should be. Because, grandfather.
Well of course, you know, success is not just limited to famous people.
Even ordinary people, such as your father, father, right?
No, I was speaking about my grandfather.
Oh, sorry. Success definitely can also be achieved by ordinary people.
Absolutely, yes. As you said, it’s a relative thing, right. It’s not absolute, it can’t be measured by some tools. I think that it’s not always about money or fame. It’s about how many of your own goals you have achieved. And if your goals were not about money, why will you measure your success by money?
By the amount of money you possess.
And then on the other end of the spectrum of course we can also learn from people who failed somehow in life.
Well, yes, we can. Well, you know, I would maybe prefer to learn from my mistakes, what about you?
Because our own mistakes are better teachers than someone else’s.
Right, of course. It’s much better to learn from your own mistakes, but then again, it is also known worthy to listen to other people’s stories to learn from their mistakes so that you, in turn, will not commit them. One example is that of my aunt. Well just to tell you a bit of a background – she used to be very rich. She used to work in Singapore and she…
Yeah. And then she also had, you know, other jobs in Singapore, but the point here is that she was able to, for example, send us to… Well, my cousins, she was able to send them to school, private schools that required, oh my god, huge tuition, so very expensive.
And she could afford to travel anywhere she wanted, but… how will I…
She went bankrupt or something?
Yeah. Because the thing is she thought that she would never run out of money, which is well, that’s a huge mistake.
She was really short-sighted. Right now she’s living in I would say depressed area in Manila. And by depressed area of course, that’s a place where poor people live. I feel somewhat bad for her, although the good thing is that she still has good health.
But then again if she had been not so wasteful with her money, if she had saved up, then she wouldn’t live the way she does today. And I don’t want to judge her, but then again, she could have lived a better life, if only she had been a little more responsible in the financial aspect.
And does it mean that you are more thoughtful about money than she was?
Well what I’m saying is that it’s not just so much about the money, but she could have secured a better future for herself and my cousins as well. Because back in the day, I still remember, she really could afford almost anything and everything. But now..
Well, she had a bright life.
Well, but that’s a good you know learning point for me, because for myself I see her As good example of things I should and shouldn’t do. So you see, we can also learn not just from people’s success stories, but also from their failures.
Right, yeah. Maybe for her success was more of a journey, not a destination point.
Well, and speaking of ourselves. What has been your greatest success? Or failure?
As a teacher… Well I would say that it was 10 years ago, I had this female student. There was this group of students. I used to teach at high school.
It was not in Russia, right?
No, it was in Manila, Philippines, and it was a final exam. In the middle of checking one paper in particular one girl, so she left a note there that said Thank you Mr. Amante, well, that’s my surname. I didn’t use to like English, but because of you I have come to love it.
You know, for me all kinds of achievements in the past at that point were not as great as this. It’s not only an achievement but for me it’s a great success, because as a teacher you would want your students not only to actually improve their language, as an English teacher of course, but for them to love the language.
You know, it’s one of the many subjects at school, and not everybody actually likes English. But for her to say that, I feel a sense of success and fulfilment because for someone who hated English that is an extreme.
So we are privileged enough as teachers because our students’ achievements can be our success.
That’s one reason why I like being a teacher because, well, because students help us a lot. We help them and they help us.
Mutual process. Yeah, that’s a good story.
Now, if you failed at an early stage, do you tend to give up?
Well, I’m afraid I do tend to give up at times, because I can easily get frustrated or start to think that maybe it’s something wrong with me. Well, it depends on the area of course where I try to do something.
But in some areas, in some spheres of life I can easily give up, for example, when it comes to personal relationship or something like that. It can ruin my self-esteem, so I tend to give up. But maybe then, next time, with other people, at some other time point, maybe it will be different.
So I try to, as we have already discussed, I try to learn from my mistakes, analyze, that’s what I usually do. Analyze things, and then maybe next time I’m lucky. What about you?
Well I totally understand you, because at the end of the day we are still human beings. And it’s in our nature to, you know, make mistakes, we are filled with emotions sometimes. And sometimes emotions get in the way, that’s why people, for example, when they don’t achieve some sort of success at the beginning, they tend to give up.
But that is completely understandable, because as you said you can get frustrated. And in my case yes, I do feel it sometimes, especially when I really-really want something and then it didn’t happen. At first, it didn’t work out, and then of course, the feeling of rejection, maybe I’m not good enough. Or maybe this isn’t the right time for me.
Yeah, I think this idea of the right time and the wrong time, it’s what can really comfort and help, because I really do believe in it. Now I started to believe that there is the right time and there is the time that is not good for doing something. It doesn’t mean that you need to stop, it means that you need to try again next time.
Next time, in other circumstances with maybe other people. But if you really wan it, if you need it, then try again. But of course it’s discouraging. Maybe there are people who are just like obstacles and it makes them feel even stronger. But I’m not that type of person, I prefer to be maybe encouraged than to face obstacles. And you?
Well in my case of course, sometimes I do give up, but then again, most of the time I try to fight it off. Especially if it’s something that I really-really want. So at first I maybe reject it, because of the first attempt that didn’t go so well, but then I always tell myself – if this is what you really want, you have to fight for it.
Have you ever come to a conclusion that sometimes it wasn’t worth it? And you were, like, disappointed so you have reached some goal and then what? What of it?
In my case, I don’t think so. Because for me, I’m a strong believer of everything happens for a reason. So if it doesn’t, so if things don’t work out, maybe, as you’ve said, it’s not that time. Maybe next time.
Okay, and when you finally achieve it, you feel happy, you feel more content and so on.
That’s good, because we need to enjoy not only the process, but also when you have this result, to enjoy our success and our achievements.
Yeah. So, do you think that some people just tend to be more successful than others? And why is it so?
Yeah, I think so. As I’ve mentioned earlier, you know, we’re born with different characteristics, with different talents, and… but it doesn’t mean, again, that if you’re talented, you can automatically achieve some success, because there are a lot of people out there who are very talented and some of them are, you know, really smart, but don’t end up being successful.
And vice versa. By the way, do we tend to agree or disagree on the idea that success means happiness? Is it always so?
To some degree yes. Because if you are successful, it’s a natural effect that you would feel happy. I mean who wouldn’t be happy if they are successful?
Yeah, but maybe to me success is something external and happiness is something internal that you just feel. And you can feel happy even without being successful, without achieving, if we start it from the point that success is when you achieve your goals. Maybe some happy people don’t set goals, that’s why they are happy, I don’t know, it differs.
Yeah, of course, we are not one and the same. To be successful is different from feeing happy.
Does it mean that.. Do you think that successful people can be unhappy?
You know, yeah. Because you may be able to achieve your goals, but if deep down inside your heart and in your mind, in your psychology, if you’re not genuinely happy, then you will not be happy. Because the thing is happiness, there’s not only entailed that you’re able to achieve your goals.
Happiness is much bigger, it’s an intangible feeling that sometimes you just feel it for some reason. And you know, in some cases you cannot even explain, you just feel happy without even achieving anything.
I agree, I agree. Especially when you are a child. Children are genuinely happy. What do you think lasts longer, happiness or success?
I would say happiness, happiness is a long term. Success is… It can be just one time. For example, I organized an event today and if I meet all the goals and if everything went smoothly, then I’m successful. At that moment only. But happiness can be long-term. So it can go beyond success.
If we teach ourselves to be happy.
Right, it’s a state of mind.
And then going back to why some people are more successful. Other factors may come in, such as hard work. What else? As we mentioned earlier a bit of luck.
In some situations a lot of luck, or pure luck.
Pure luck. Yeah that can also happen. What else? Why are some people more successful? Probably… Have I mentioned talent?
00:26:44 M: Yeah, talent, right, so talent, time, maybe.. Or maybe the perception.
Because and maybe some cultural differences, because in some culture this person is considered successful, in other cultures this person. And also I think it depends on the epoch or time. Do you think that ideas of success have changed over time?
00:27:09 K: Yeah, I think so. With each generation our definition of not just being in fact successful, but happiness, it changes over time. Because with time comes different trends, different lifestyles. And so these terms, these abstract terms of, you know, happiness or success, they tend to change. For example you mentioned before about people who live in caves.
Yeah, for example cavemen, right, they were successful enough to outlive their peers.
Other cavemen. To live one month longer was, I guess, considered success, great success in life. Or maybe I they killed some big animal, they were successful at that day. Because now, let’s say, you kill an animal, are you successful? No, you are a criminal.
For example. And I think it changes over time a lot. And is it sad that nowadays success is mostly measured by the amount of money you have?
Or am I wrong to say that?
No. In general societies are materialistic. People tend to acquit success with anything and everything that’s material, and that includes your possessions. How much money you have, how many houses and cars you possess. Sadly to this day, it is still one of those factors that people take into consideration for them to tell whether you’re successful or not.
Do you think that we can call someone successful if they have lots of children, not much money, but a lot of children?
Depending on their definition of success, why not? So it’s, you know, it’s their own measure of success. Because there are in fact people out there who prefer to have big families. So they want to have a lot of children. If they are able to achieve that – good for you, then I guess in that aspect of life you’re successful.
Or maybe I’ve read lots of books and I have understood most of them, I’m successful maybe. Or I have good quality of education, so I’m successful. Are you a successful person?
I would say that based on my definition of success, which is the attainment of my goals, I am successful as a teacher, being that I’m able to improve the level of my students. It’s not just, you know, improving their language skills, but more importantly to impact their lives.
To be able for them to think in a freer way, so that it doesn’t depend on what the teacher… Not just even the teacher, but the society tells them, so it’s about them making their own mark in this world.
Right. Do you still have a lot to achieve?
Well, a lot of smaller goals in the future.
Alright, so I guess that’s all the time that we have for today’s podcast. So the topic has been success and failure. Thank you for listening.
Thank you guys!
00:30:34 K: And we’ll see you next time.