This question pops up now and again with people who are convinced that some people are lazy and don’t try to succeed. Other people with negative backgrounds, poverty, real dysfunctional families, abuse, neglect, drugs and so on do make it. The conclusion by some is that the ones who do not succeed are lazy and don’t try hard enough. If you tried hard enough, you would do well.

Most of you find this to be a large crock of burnt parsnips. The road to success is varied, as is the road to failure. There are many public stories of folks who have inherited wealth, had good family upbringing, had all of the advantages and failed as human beings in many ways. There are even stories about siblings coming from the same background and going in different directions. I have a personal story of that kind.

A friend of mine had four other male siblings. His success in life was obvious to me. He had worked for a large corporation and wound up as their chief financial officer. While this was happening, his brothers were working on becoming ne’er do wells and felons. I spent some time discussing this happening with my friend. Our only conclusion was that he must have been a genetic anomaly. Some would say that his siblings were lazy and he was ambitious. That does not hold water in any circumstance. Why would he be more ambitious than his brothers?

The nature nurture thing goes just so far before it falls apart. In searching for answers, using anecdotal information, it appears that somewhere in a person’s growth period, one becomes attached to some sort of mentor. The mentor does not have to be someone in the family. It could be a teacher, a boss, a friend, a colleague, or anyone else. In working with students in two scholarship programs, we noticed that those who failed seemed not to have hooked up with an adult in their schools, or even in their lives.

It could also be true that the found mentor leads certain people down to the road of perdition. It is also apparent that those who think that trying harder is the answer apply their philosophy to large groups of people. You can guess what groups that might be.



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