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The Art of Giving Up

By Raj Raghunathan from Texas Enterprise

The world is obsessed with stories of success. There is a well-known concept in management literature called the survivor bias, which refers to the erroneous conclusions that researchers draw from focusing excessively on successful organizations and people. Pick up any magazine, and you will see the survivor bias in action: The stories are almost always about the successful; very few stories focus on the failures.

At one level, the focus on the successful is understandable; after all, we all want to be successful, and so, focusing on those who have already "been there and done that" would seem appropriate.

There is, however, a flip side. An obsession with success can have negative side effects on what arguably matters even more in life: being happy.

Pressure to Perservere

One of the key drivers of success is perseverance and a "never say die" attitude. This is epitomized in a variety of sayings, such as, "the harder you work, the luckier you get," (a quote by the South African Golfer Gary Player), and "Never, never, never, give up" (Winston Churchill's famous quote).

The focus on hard work and achieving success appears to have reached a feverish pitch in recent years: Even kids in kindergarten are reminded of the importance of perseverance. Children today are so overworked that they don't get the requisite amount of sleep. All this hard work and focus on goals has probably enhanced our productivity, but what is not as well known is the cost at which such success is earned.

Are successful people necessarily happier? Read more on Texas Enterprise.


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