OPINION: From Elon Musk to LeBron James, the common denominator is the journey


Julia Smeltzer

NPHS Sophomore Ben Barbosa ponders life in the NPHS auditorium lobby.

Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Beyoncé, Lebron James. There is a common thread between those names; they all are successful. However; that isn’t because of how much money they make, it’s because of how they got there.

Nowadays, we attribute one’s success to how much money he or she has made over his or her career or lifetime. But what is more important is the impact they are leaving on the world and the journey it took for them to do that.

Elon Musk, a son of divorced parents who grew up in a small town in South Africa had a love for computers and technology from a young age. His mother worked five jobs just to support him while he was busy pursuing his passion. Over years of inventing products that worked, and failed, Elon Musk is one of the biggest figures paving the way for computer and technology advancements. Bill Gates grew up in a middle-class family who put emphasis on academics and striving for greatness. As a child, Gates was mentally troubled and fought his own silent battles in his head, and it didn’t help that his parents classified him as a “loner”. After finding comfort in the computer lab, Gates created Microsoft, one of the biggest computer software programs out there.

Beyonce grew up with a microphone in her hand all the time. She grew up in a normal, middle-class home in Texas, but carried an extraordinary talent. Performing at everything from talent shows to weddings to community events, she started her small career. Beyonce’s first musical break was with Destiny’s Child, who eventually broke up, but that skyrocketed her solo career as she’s become one of the most iconic artists to exist. Lebron James’ love for basketball started at a young age. As he would play for a rec, travel,  high school team, his talent didn’t go unnoticed. After years of training and hard work, the 6’8 basketball player caught his big break as he is one of the most well known NBA players.

There is no doubt that these four are among the few who can live lavishly, but that is only a product of their success. What lies behind their accomplishment and their success is how they got there. They started as normal people, just like you and me, and they had a dream they never stopped trying to achieve. These four didn’t miraculously wake up one Tuesday morning and have loads of wealth. They earned it through their lifetime of hard work and grit. Success isn’t about the price tag attributed to one’s accomplishments, it’s how you got to where you are, and how much of an impact you are leaving. The path you are paving for others to follow is much more important than what you get from being successful.

In my opinion, success means a lot of things. To me, one doesn’t become successful by making lots of money or having a job that offers more than a six-figure pay. You get there by connecting with people and the world around you. The relationships you build with people are so much more important than any dollar amount. Those four got to where they are today by connecting with the world around them and never giving up on their dreams, even after setbacks and failures. These four will leave an impact on the world and their names will never be forgotten, and that’s why they are successful. You can’t sit on your couch with loads of money in your bank account and get to call yourself a successful person, that’s not how it works. Once you leave an everlasting impact on the world, community or town, that’s when you’ve earned that title.

Now you may be thinking, what does a seventeen-year-old who works a part-time job at Olive Garden know about success? I would consider myself successful, or at least getting there. Because in my three years of high school, I worked hard to achieve the titles attached to my name and the accomplishments I have been granted, and I would like to think that I’ve made an impact on my school, teachers, and peers. Now I do see that the honor roll certificates that my mom hangs up on our refrigerator do not amount to the kinds of things those four individuals are doing; but what really is the difference? Those four, and now including myself, have worked hard for our achievements and can all call ourselves successful but according to society, I can’t call myself because I’m not wealthy.

I may just be young and naive and totally unaware of the “adult” world, but I  think if a seventeen-year-old can start to see what is important about our success, then so can everyone else. Life is about making connections and leaving a footprint and an impact on the world. That’s what we should focus on, not the price tag of our success. You don’t have to be an iconic popstar, technology wiz, or a 6 ‘8 NBA player, you can be yourself because it doesn’t take much to be successful. There’s no complicated formula or problem you have to solve, it’s simple; all it takes is hard work and the right mindset. All it takes is for you to make a small ripple in the wave that is our world.