Started from the Bottom

Success: it’s something we all want, but only the most determined can achieve. Those who are driven and ready to take on challenges are more likely to land their dream job than those who happily sit back and let others do their work. It’s ambition, the persistence to keep going until the goal is reached, that marks successful people from everyone else.

But, the question always arises: don’t the wealthy have an advantage, which puts people from low income families behind in the race?

The answer, well, is yes – the rich do have a significant upper hand. They have the money to buy the newest technology and pay for top-rated schools. They have large, quiet homes in which they can study diligently, surrounded by MacBooks, iPhones, and private tutors that come to their house. Ultimately, they have access to the best resources that in turn help them climb the ladder to success.


But, where’s the guarantee that the rich will use such resources effectively? Just because they’re available to them at all times and in many forms doesn’t mean that students from wealthy backgrounds will be motivated to use them for educational advancement. Think about it this way: if you’re an iPhone user, how many times do you use one of the most expensive phones in the world to actually call people? In the same way, every affluent American teenager doesn’t come with the guarantee that they’ll be just as successful as their parents.

Of course, students on the lower end of the family income spectrum will face difficulties because they, on the other hand, don’t always have top quality resources at their disposable. But, if they’re unwavering in their efforts, can they achieve success as well? The answer may not be definite, since that would reflect idealism. In fact, I would rather address the question by asking another question: Why not? Why can’t the less fortunate students be likely candidates for success?

It’s true that our circumstances affect us tremendously by leaving us with certain advantages or disadvantages. But, if our environment can mold our chances, our nature has an equal share in shaping our paths. Someone who is lazy, preoccupied with trivial matters, and unmotivated as a whole will not succeed, no matter what. Our nature determines our mindset, which in turn decides how far down the road we can go. If we’re resolute and hard-working, we can surely reach our destination.

Far from being a theory, an impoverished person’s rise to the top has been witnessed by the world continuously. Fashion icon Ralph Lauren was a Brooks Brothers clerk before launching the clothing line that would take the world by storm. Chinese immigrant Do Won Chang worked as a janitor and then a gas station attendant when he moved to America, and now he is the founder of one of the most popular clothing stores, Forever 21. Even Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi before she became the first African American TV correspondent. The world famous Oprah Winfrey Show is a testimony to her success.

Photo Credit: George Burns

These are all names we have heard on the news or seen on the front cover of multiple newspapers, but to the majority, it’s astonishing to see that these names were once associated to nothing but hardship. But, if we think about it, we harbor feelings of surprise when a poor person rises to the ranks of the successful because we hold the presupposition that the destitute have a rare chance at prosperity – when, in fact, they don’t. With dedication and perseverance, anybody has a shot at success.

So, instead of judging a person’s ability by the amount of money they have in their bank account, let’s consider their character first. Let’s not take people by face value and embrace the fact that any truly determined person can make it big, no matter where they start off from. After all, it’s mind over money.


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