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ihavereturned's avatar

Would you say, for the most part, that success is proportional to one’s understanding of human nature?

Asked by ihavereturned (711points) February 3rd, 2020

This has nothing to do with extroversion or introversion. An introvert could develop a product he knows people will use. An extrovert can inspire/manipulate people to work with them. Etc

I also know a bit about Nikola Tesla who was a genius in nature but not human nature, which is why I think he got screwed over by others and didn’t achieve the material success he could have definitely achieved.

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30 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

I would say that success requires more elaboration than provided for a reasonable answer.

josie's avatar

Certainly in the case of success in business or politics or other people enterprises

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly was the question unclear? I just mean an understanding of people in general. I’ll leave success open to interpretation.

ihavereturned's avatar

Further, how does gain a greater understanding of human nature?

Zaku's avatar

I would say that success at getting a meaningful answer to a question requires more explanation of what you think you’re talking about, than you just gave.

As written, my answer is “LOL no, and WTF are you talking about?”

What’s “success” for purposes of this question? Do you just mean monetary income from some career?

In any case, no, there is definitely no principle where success is proportional to understanding of human nature, unless that is the nature of the success you are trying to achieve – e.g. as an insightful humanist poet, psychologist, counselor, philosopher, trainer, actor, novelist, etc.

Especially not if you just mean making money, as a very high number of people who end up making scads of money are not particularly informed about human nature, and the people I know who are most informed about human nature tend not to be obsessed with maximizing their personal income.

ihavereturned's avatar

Okay I suppose I’ll define success as the ability to impose one’s creative will in society.

For example, maybe this means inspiring people as an author, becoming president, starting a successful business that makes money, or a general project to improve the world in some way you want changed. In the case of tesla, he wanted to build machines that would disrupt the energy industry.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Define or categorize success? For example, what amount of understanding of human nature is required to “successfully” assemble jigsaw puzzles or cultivate a garden?

ihavereturned's avatar

I would rank assembling jigsaw puzzles low in the ability to impose a creative will on the world. But that’s fine if it’s what someone wants. I’d use impact on society/world as part of the definition.

Edit: Cultivating a garden is also low ranked, but it could be used to grow healthy food to build a strong family, which I’d rank higher.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Sorry my answer should have preceded your explanation. Simply put, an understanding of human nature is essential if your definition of success is dependent on your personal interactions with people. Politician, fortune teller, entertainer. On the other hand, if “success” is defined as contentment or self fulfillment, the answer must understandably vary considerably with the individual.

ihavereturned's avatar

Great! I think we’re on the same page now. I agree

However, my assumption is that the greater creative will someone wants to impose on the world, the more people will be required. For example, any goal that seeks to improve the world will, in my opinion, require interactions with other people. Thus, I came to the opinion that greater success (high creative will imposed on society) requires a greater understanding of human nature.

Further, I ask, if this is true then how does one gain a greater understanding of it?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It isn’t that simple. Let’s say you stumble upon discovery of a cure for cancer. Your influence on the world will be considerable regardless of your interpersonal skills. Your definition of “success” is actually more important than your goals in achieving it. Was or wasn’t Hitler a success?

YARNLADY's avatar

I think accident or luck is a very big factor.

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly this is why I gave tesla as an example. Suppose someone did come up with a cure for cancer, but with a low understanding of human nature. I don’t believe it’s unrealistic to say it could forcefully be kept a secret by people with much to lose because of how disruptive it is to the industry, and the scientist could easily be taken advantage of by such people.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Taken advantage of ? Of course, but is or isn’t he a successs? If he loses all control of his discovery, and doesn’t earn a dime from it, IS he successful?

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly i would say no if it has no impact on the world and nobody ever sees it except those who suppress it. At least not by the version of success defined here

stanleybmanly's avatar

So take the opposite. He takes the cure, markets it, makes a tremendous fortune, yet sees to it that no one knows he is responsible for the cure. Is he succeesful?

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly I would say mostly because they are achieving their intention of either improving the world or making money. In some ways they may be unsuccessful if they were intending to develop credibility to reduce resistance for their next project.

I would say it depends on the intention of the person and an objective impact on the world.

stanleybmanly's avatar

So success must be gauged on the ambition of the subject. A great dessert followed by a comfy nap against a cozy woman—contentment.

ihavereturned's avatar

There is the objective component, as I said. You can consider whatever you want a success. But i’m talking about the ability to impose creative will on society.

When writing the question the word “success” was the best word I could think of.

janbb's avatar

I don’t agree with the premise. Look at tech successes like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg – neither of whom have or had much understanding of human nature. I think intellect and drive are more important factors.

ihavereturned's avatar

@janbb i don’t believe you are correct when you say they didn’t have an understanding of human nature. Steve Jobs had an amazing intuition into what people wanted, and this led to great products that were successful. Apple products were usually much easier to use than competing products. The Macintosh was advertised as a computer that tried to be more like a person, rather than make the person be more like a computer. This could only be achieved with a certain understanding of people and human nature. But I don’t know much about bill gates.

ihavereturned's avatar

Steve Jobs was also infamous for his “reality distortion field” and its ability to influence people.

ihavereturned's avatar

@janbb oh I misread Zuckerburg as Gates. I think Zuckerburg had similar insights into what people wanted and how they wanted to navigate the online world. This doesn’t mean he needs to know everything about people, but I believe he possessed certain insights about people that others didn’t.

ihavereturned's avatar

@janbb Also, you may be referring to Jobs’ treatment of certain family members as evidence of his lack of understanding of human nature. I’d still say that he had a certain understanding that others didn’t, which he used to impose his creative will. My point being that the bit of understanding that he possessed is what came in handy for him to create products and influence people to work with him. And the understanding he lacked could have been the cause of his family problems, or what led him to be “pushed” out of Apple in his younger years.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I truly believe that the great mistake in the world is to conflate success with wealth, fame, control—-you know the usual suspects. I am convinced that it was the great mistake of my lucky young life.

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly Do you have a story you want to share? I am intrigued. What led you to change your opinion and what did you go through? I do agree btw.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It would take too long. Let’s just say that my great disability is a lack of ambition. I’ve been criticized for the bulk of my life for “not living up to your potential”. While I don’t give a shit about power, fame or recognition, the lone handicap to an ambition free existence turned out to be (so I believed) the requirement for money! I have my share of leadership skills, and as a result there is no surfeit of those willing to thrust such obligations toward me. But I early on mastered the art of ducking responsibility for others, and the principle served me exceedingly well.

In my 27th year I was stumbling along like the average working slob, making ends meet, and wishing for more money, when I fell into an opportunity virtually without realizing it that allowed me to utilize my people skills without understanding that I was actually responsible for dozens, then hundreds of people. Within months I was earning (what for me was) obscene amounts of money and at first quickly conformed to every cliche you can recall involving the “noveau riche”. I sobered up within a few months as the realization of real responsibility verified my previous wariness on the hazards of ambition, with the additional deprivation of the previous delusion that money would solve all my problems. It was SO stupid. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t any REAL problems BEFORE the jackpot. I just couldn’t afford the toys and every book I might covet. Those 3 years were the most instructive of my life. I had spent a great percentage of that life devouring books, particularly historical and biographical works on military topics, but the new gig compelled me to actually think on all that data, while my forced interactions with so many people sent me down the road of “what makes people tick”. It’s an embarrassing thing to admit that someone with my lucky advantages could occupy a place on this planet with barely a thought on how the world actually works as opposed to the popular mantras preached by (for example) the 2 political parties. It was the height of the Reagan years, and suddenly there were armies of homeless people on the streets. In addition, I had always figured that of course the rich get a better deal, but I am living proof that unless you can experience what REAL wealth is about, you can’t have a clue as to just how crooked the game is for you out there without passive income. But the worst aspect to having more than you can comfortably live with is the obligation you are perforce compelled to assume regarding others. Suddenly I was aware of the struggles defining so many around me, and I understood something that had puzzled me all my life—that yearly sermon on the rich man and the needle. It’s a shameful thing to admit that I was so old before I understood it and it depressed the hell out of me.

ihavereturned's avatar

@stanleybmanly I appreciate your message and I apologize for the late reply.

My young self is having trouble understanding some of the things you’re saying. For example, what did you mean when you said:

In addition, I had always figured that of course the rich get a better deal, but I am living proof that unless you can experience what REAL wealth is about, you can’t have a clue as to just how crooked the game is for you out there without passive income

Are you saying you have a insider look into a “crooked” game that you obtained by luck?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes. Though that is isn’t quite right. So much depends on the quirks involved with how one is wired. Did you ever wonder how many are “successful” through nothing beyond simple obsession? There are those addicted to chess, while for
others it’s dog fighting. It’s a matter of luck what it is that will grab or propel you In the end, I’ve been through it and no longer emulate let alone envy those who are driven. Have you decided whether or not Tesla was “successful”?

ihavereturned's avatar

Forget the word “successful.” There is judgement associated with that.

I’m thinking of a concept analogous to a boat at sea. One without a sail or engine is pushed whichever way the ocean goes, and could, by luck, end up in a desirable location. Compare to ships with different engines where the best quality one will take the ship wherever the sailor desires. A ship with a strong engine may be turned off because the sailor decides to nap, or do whatever else they please, yet we never get to see the power of the ship, which is fine. Not a perfect metaphor but hopefully it works (and it’s the best I can come up with at 5am and can’t sleep).

I view Tesla as someone who did impressive work on his ship yet for some reason was prevented from achieving his goal of bringing that work to the people on the shore.

I do view many quirks as essential to the recipe, like obsession, and have benefitted from that in my own life. I’ve noticed it around me as well, in Silicon Valley, many talented technical people who could be achieving a better realization of their goal yet are made to believe they are better off giving away their freedom to build another food delivery app to make someone else rich. I view many talented academic types falling in similar patterns who fail to see some of the bigger picture.

However, as I type this I realize there are many ingredients to achieving your goals on earth, which of course must include luck (whether good or bad). But I do believe that luck isn’t everything, and in many cases it includes how you handle good or bad luck.

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