In individualistic success models, success is not due to the individual’s relationship with his external environment or place in society, but, rather, a matter of individual accomplishment or, in some cases, a measure of his relationship with God. These models had their roots originally in Protestant Calvinism and are the typical ones you will see in “Success” books.
Examples discussed include
The Protestant work ethic model
The American success model
New Age Model
Protestant Work Ethic
According to Max Weber (1904, 1905), it was John Calvin who introduced the theological doctrines which combined with those of Martin Luther to form a significant new attitude toward work. Calvin was a French theologian whose concept of predestination was revolutionary. Central to Calvinist belief was the Elect, those persons chosen by God to inherit eternal life. All other people were damned and nothing could change that since God was unchanging. While it was impossible to know whether a person was one of the Elect, one could have a sense of it based on his own personal encounters with God. Outwardly, the only evidence was in the person’s daily life and deeds, and success in one’s worldly endeavors was a sign of possible inclusion as one of the Elect. A person who was indifferent and displayed idleness was most certainly one of the damned, but a person who was active, austere, and hard working gave evidence to himself and to others that he was one of God’s chosen ones.
Calvin taught that all men must work, even the rich, because to work was the will of God. It was the duty of men to serve as God’s instruments here on earth, to reshape the world in the fashion of the Kingdom of God, and to become a part of the continuing process of His creation. Men were not to lust after wealth, possessions, or easy living, but were to reinvest the profits of their labor into financing further ventures. Earnings were thus to be reinvested repeatedly, ad infinitum, or to the end of time. Using profits to help others rise from a lesser level of subsistence violated God’s will since persons could only demonstrate that they were among the Elect through their own labor.
Selection of an occupation and pursuing it to achieve the greatest profit possible was considered by Calvinists to be a religious duty. Not only condoning, but encouraging the pursuit of unlimited profit was a radical departure from the Christian beliefs of the Middle ages. In addition, unlike Luther, Calvin considered it appropriate to seek an occupation that would provide the greatest earnings possible. If that meant abandoning the family trade or profession, the change was not only allowed, but it was considered one’s religious duty.
The norms regarding work which developed out of the Protestant Reformation, based on the combined theological teachings of Luther and Calvin, encouraged work in a chosen occupation with an attitude of service to God, viewed work as a calling and avoided placing greater spiritual dignity on one job than another, approved of working diligently to achieve maximum profits, required reinvestment of profits back into one’s business, allowed a person to change from the craft or profession of his father, and associated success in one’s work with the likelihood of being one of God’s Elect.
“American Dream” Success Model
The present model of business and career motivation, the one most closely associated with the “American Dream” which emphases individual achievement, competition, and domination has been around for at least the last 50 years.
Unlike the Calvinist work ethic that is based, the motivation for moneymaking is no longer saving for the future, but, what Thornstein Veblen, the famous 19th century economist characterized as “conspicuous consumption.” Luxury homes, luxury cars, fancy electronic gadgets, and exotic vacations create the illusion of wealth. The philosophy of the Amway Corporation, now known as Quixtel in the U. S. is a good illustration of the concepts involved. Amway Corporation is a direct selling organization that produces and markets products using a Multilevel Marketing system (or MLM for short).
Multilevel marketing is a form of direct selling in which manufacturers authorize independent contractors to sell their products directly to consumers, bypassing intermediaries and retail stores. Using the garage or a spare bedroom as a warehouse and a home office as a business hub, a distributor makes a profit by buying wholesale from his or her company and selling to customers at retail prices. MLM is also a recruiting business. A distributor is permitted to sign up other individuals to become part of his company’s distribution force–and is paid a commission on the wholesale product purchases made by recruits. Both methods then furnish consumers with new options in acquiring consumer items they desire.
The motivator for work and sole measure of success measured is money and the goods that money can buy:
This is a business, and a main reason people work at any business is to earn money that not only will help them pay their bills, but also meet other goals. Those may be short- or long-term goals, and they could be large (like buying a new house) or small (like saving for a vacation).
A better standard of living is a common motivation and reward for people starting any kind of business. Money – and what it can buy – is the universally recognizable indicator of success that distributors use to motivate and establish credibility for their business.
Another important aspect of this success model is that one has only one self’s to blame for one’s own success for failure. And yet given the low success rate in Amway, “…the data from one investigative report reveal that only 1,000 of over 200,000 distributors ever achieved the rank of Direct Distributor or higher,” it is also quite clear that the company does not offer success to anyone who enters the business [Bromley, 1995:151]. How can all these well-meaning people not succeed?
The only ideologically accepted explanation is that these well-meaning people had no commitment to “the dream.”
Amway is a performance-based business that rewards people in direct proportion to their effort. The bigger the financial goal, the more time and effort a distributor will need to put into his or her business. With an Amway business, a distributor can work as much or little as he or she likes. The rewards are based directly on the distributor’s accomplishments. (from Amway
The product is irrelevant. It is keeping the dream alive and resisting everything that could possibly rob one of The American Dream that counts. For “the dream” is God’s blessing, the divine will, the American Way, family, morality, and the free-enterprise system. .
Recently, the American success model has been taken a battering. The competition for business markets and jobs is stiff. The faith in business has been eroded by corporate fraud scandals, massive layoffs, and outsourcing. However, at least for now, it remains the predominant success model in today’s America.
New Age Views on Success
New Age philosophy got its name from the belief that we are at the threshold of a New Age. New Agers contend that the world is going through a paradigm shift, a time when accepted ways of thinking and acting change drastically, because of new discoveries.
For example, the invention of writing and of agriculture triggered paradigm shifts that led to a completely new way of living. According to New Agers, we are going through a paradigm shift through new discoveries in physics and psychology.
The judgmental (left)) side of our brain limits our possibilities for creativity. In contrast, the right side of our brain tells us that reality is what we make it. We need to be more creative in order to live up to our possibilities. In fact, some New Agers believe that we are actually gods, possessing mysterious powers that we do not know that have, including the ability to transform reality to conform to our desires.
We have these abilities because there is already an underlying oneness between our beings and the universe. Nuclear physics discovery that matter and energy is the same suggests that everything is made up of the same energy. Hence, we, as energetic beings, interact with the energy of our environment to create our own destinies.
The link between spirituality and money is evident in many New Age “self-help” books that combine techniques for psychological and spiritual well-being with techniques for financial success.8 According to New Age thinking, your spiritual health and financial health are closely related. As a result, the idea that “reality is what you make it” often translates into “your economic reality is what you make it” Being open to new experiences and goes along with taking new risks and investments.
The New Age movement has adapted many of the same tools used by the Eastern and Wicca tradition that we have discussed: crystals, Tarot cards, meditation techniques, astrology, etc. However, they have developed two powerful motivational tools of their own: affirmations and visualizations.
Affirmations are positive statements Simply repeat them to yourself as you go about your daily routine. You don’t even have to consciously “listen,” just play it in the background. Your subconscious mind hears and retains the spoken affirmations and thus begins creating a more prosperous mindset. Your mind will especially pick out the personal issues and focus on them. Examples are:
- There is limitless supply and it is mine
- I release my need for financial insecurity
- I am financially secure
- I am surrounded by loving, giving people
- I release my need to feel needy
- I have everything I want or need
- I release my fear of wealth and wellness
- I am healthy and wealthy
- I allow myself to prosper
- I trust that I will create abundance
- I have more than I need in every area of my life
- I open myself to receive the abundance of The Universe
- I release my need for debt
- I am solvent
- I am safe and secure
- I enjoy a steady flow of positive energy
- I am loved, accepted, acknowledged and appreciated
Active, creative visualization is focused daydreaming. You create in your mind’s eye a vision, a thought, and that thought has energy. As with dreams, your mind seems to work best with pictures. As such, visualizations, coupled with affirmations, are powerful tools of creation.
Below is sample visualization (http://www.catanna.com/moneyspl.htm)