An essay

Please bear in mind that my English is a trifle rusty.

I keep meeting people who, according to today's criteria, one would describe as "successful". It leads me to give the matter some consideration.

1. Some untruths:

- To think that a man is clever because he is good at mathematics is a gross error of judgement. You can juggle with figures and formulae and yet be a complete imbecile.

- IQ tests are mostly drawn up by people with a very narrow view on what intelligence is.

2. Being clever means:

- Being able to adapt to circumstances and change.
- Being able to adapt one's speech to one's audience.
- Being able to express ideas and abstract thoughts. With simple words.
- Being able to question oneself.
- Keeping one foot inside the circle and the other outside.

During my studies I met quite a few people whose vocabulary was deliberatly sophisticated and impenetrable. Probably as a means to distinguish themselves from the common people. Those individuals are not interesting. There is no point in associating with them.

3. But being clever doesn't mean that you are bound to be successful.

I've met quite a few CEOs and senior executives. Often I asked myself why some individuals, totally lacking in nuance, in finesse, in culture, endowed with a very basic/limited mind, managed nevertheless to reach high positions.

Success depends on 4 factors:

- Your physical appearance and your voice. Quite simply. It sounds stupid, but your voice has a very strong impact on how people perceive you. With a deep slightly offhand voice you will get more attention, even though you talk complete bullshit.
- The lack of scruples. To have scruples is a sure sign of intelligence. But it is also an affliction. Particularly in the business world. To be successful and climb the promotion ladder, you often have to trample on your entourage. Some do that quite naturally, being almost unaware of it. Others manage to bury their scruples deep down their conscience.
- Luck. It's undeniable. We all need a bit of luck. And it's not so easy to grab it when it comes. Many parameters can prevent you from doing so.
- Relations, contacts. If you happen to be (like me) unsociable / agoraphobic / misanthropic, you're fucked! You cannot reach success / happiness if you are lonely.

Also, do not judge too hastily someone by his academic achievement. You have to consider the fact that some youngsters need extra time to mature. It often depends on the family background. Some parents can stimulate their kids' intelligence. Others will do quite the contrary.

I don't like heartless people who criticize in order to highlight themselves. I don’t like people who never question themselves, wallowing in their prejudices, nor those who let themselves be carried away, mechanically, by the current.

Donald Sheridan