The Calculus of Success

Calculus is the study of two main techniques of calculation: derivative and integral. Derivative cuts up a big piece into small pieces, and integral sums up all small pieces into one big piece.They seem to be used exclusively in measuring and calculating physical phenomena, but the concept could also be applied to areas outside of science.

I think about the subject of success on a daily basis. But what does it mean to be successful? I have asked some of my friends, and unsurprisingly, most of them draw an equivalence sign between success and money. Indeed money does lead to other good things such as power, social status and respect. But is that the ultimate measure of success?

Let me continue this paragraph assuming that that success = money. There are 66 billionaires that are under 40 years old. ( Now think of those billions of dollars as an integral. An integral summed over space and time, so all possible scenarios of obtaining that money is included in the integral. If we look at it this way, we get a number, that symbolizes the monetary status of each of the billionaire. As you read this Forbes article, it start to talk about a concept of self-made billionaire, that is, those that were not born with golden spoons, and there are 10 of them on the list. Now go back and ask yourselves, Do those 10 strike you as more successful compared to the rest of them on the list or no? For me, I would think so because they started out with next to nothing, and they made the billion dollar happen themselves. This thinking is using the concept of derivative. Taking the billion dollar sum and take derivatives with respect to time, in the self made billionaire case, the results of derivatives are big numbers; for the rest of the group, as they inherent that money, they did not have to put in work over time to achieve, so the results of the derivatives would be very small. Thus, thinking along the line of integration may be the first intuition when measuring success, a better measure would be taking derivatives.

At the end of this blog, I want to include my opinion on what I think success is. Money is somewhat a selfish standard, people mostly collect money for themselves. However, we would not get to where we are without the help and support from our society and other people. So I think a measure of success is how much we can give back to the society, contribute to the development of human race, and how much we can help other individuals like they have helped us. One example, factories using this standard would not get rid of harmful chemicals by dumping them in the rivers, which would be the cheapest option for them but would harm the society. With this standard, we would have less tendency to collect money for our own sake, and be thinking more about other people, and make the world a better place faster.

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