Like philosophers outlining their body of work, any opinion stems from assumptions. In this case they are that:
1. People desire to assimilate (fit in, be a part of their society, be liked by their peers, etc.
2. And two (seeming) contradictions:
i. People believe that working hard will create more wealth/ money
ii. People strive to get the most out of the least possible effort
It’s not that assimilation in itself is a problem at all. In fact, it leads to cooperation, formation of bonds, and eventually finding a mating pair. Unfortunately it may also lead to peer pressure or group mentality. In a high school and even college setting assimilation can and will result in failure depending on reinforcement of values (or lack of), the behavior of the majority, and isolation vs. recreation (being a lone wolf vs. one of the herd). The trouble with assimilation is that we, as a whole, often strive for one of the contradictions mentioned above (points i or ii). In each of these academic settings we have students who will work hard to get the highest payoff (← which as it turns out is not the exact truth in the real world for everyone) or students who will do their best to get the most with the least effort (these are the straight A students who procrastinate and fail to be mentally stimulated). We want to be successful and follow the crowd because evolution and survival of the fittest show us that the majority are the majority for a reason… they must be doing something right, right? Unfortunately this is because the majority also has a propensity for intellectual over breeding.
The majority isn’t abundant due to a trait or gene that is more likely to thrive, but because being the majority is simple, it is easy and it is often hard to get out of. Worst of all, being the majority can be taught to others and spread like a virus, or sometimes prejudice and stereotypes can pigeonhole you in that category. The majority that I speak of, that I was a part of in my mentality, are the less successful and those labeled poor. I do not have a real clue of how much my family lacked but I knew that it wasn’t something to be spoken about. My father worked way too much and whenever I saw him he was either resting, studying, or smoking a much needed cigarette. I detest cigarettes by the way. My dad believed in the “work hard, get wealthy” mantra, but I saw him stumble without the opportunities that had been so abundant to him in Argentina.
He was led astray by the singular goal of that belief, the same way that many of us are led astray. I got through high school following “ii.” Get the best outcome from the least possible effort. I did well without trying my absolute best, got the right scores on my AP exams, did decently on the SAT, fell asleep while taking the ACT, and got into UCB. I was lost, aimless, and way over my head. But at last I was not in a place where “assimilation” works. Despite the hardship, I was finally saved. There is no way to stay here with minimal effort.
As demonstrated above by my examples, working hard to get the most money and getting the most with the least effort are both, on their own, poor guides. They are incomplete templates for anyone to follow. My father worked harder and harder and all I wanted was for him to stop taking care of us and start taking care of himself. And my procrastinating attitude of getting the most for the least effort may have landed me, via sheer luck, into one of the best public universities in the world but it also left me completely unprepared. No time management skills, no note-taking system, no clear goal, and after so much “habit” assimilating, nobody that shared my poor academic practices.
But are these two theories for gaining personal success really a contradiction? Can working more AND the least effort really result in gaining more? How could that possibly work?
The marriage of these two contradictions is entrepreneurship. You have to work hard to make your millions but you also have to play smart and gain the most progress with the least effort. The entrepreneur stands out, is a leader in thought, action, and character, and most of all the entrepreneur doesn’t truly fail because he/she never gives up (this is US-centric, the outcome of failure elsewhere isn’t so negligible). Being an entrepreneur is my personal definition of success. And entrepreneurs don’t assimilate to the majority, they assimilate to the cream of the crop, if at all.
Some may disagree because we don’t all follow the same assumptions or the same definition of success but to me, a future social entrepreneur, success means being different, innovative, and willing to try to bring the change that others don’t dare dream of. Assimilate if you must, but examine closely who you follow lest you tumble off the edge like the sheep before you.