Why Some People Thrive And Others Don’t

The whole thing makes me profoundly uncomfortable—talking about, or even considering, how one person might be more likely to succeed than another.

But it has to be true.

Photo Credit: Brett Holt, Creative Commons

Some people just have generally more thriving careers, happier relationships, closer families, more satisfying marriages, and less dramatic financial lives than others. Some people have goals they never accomplish, unrealized dreams, addictions, depression or anxiety that seems to cloud too much of their existence.

Others seem to move seamlessly through life, uncovering a continual sense of well-being and freedom.

So what does one person do that the other person doesn’t?

Is one person “better” than the other person? Is one life “better” than the other? The conversation gets sticky here, because although I can tell you which life I would prefer to have, it’s hard for me to admit there is a difference.

It’s hard for me to put a value judgement on a human life—it really is. The whole thing makes me cringe.

But, if I’m being brutally honest, I think there is a difference.

It isn’t about measuring one life against another life; and it isn’t meant to be a tool of shame or of competition. But it is meant to help us understand what would make one person able to face trials and setbacks with confidence and grace; while another can’t seem to find his or her way, despite opportunities.

The other day I was discussing this with a group of friends.

We talked about how every human life has equal value, but how some people spend their gifts and resources more wisely than others. We discussed the role of emotional or relational health, which acts much like physical health—if you don’t ever take good care of your body, as an athlete, you can’t be surprised when it won’t perform like you wish it would.

We talked about family support, community, and how different definitions of success would have an impact on whether you achieve it or not.

We marveled at how none of us are dealt an equal “hand,” but how where we begin is a terrible predictor for where we end up.

Sometimes, even those who are dealt a terrible hand, end up thriving.

But ultimately, one of my friends ended up saying something during the conversation that caught my attention, and I think even answered my question about the mystery of success. Those who are successful in life do this well, he said. And as soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew it was true.

The areas in my own life where I’ve put these words to practice, I’m thriving. The ares where I’m flailing around, and not experiencing much growth, I haven’t taken my friend’s advice.

This is what he said:

“Those who are truly successful in life care more about success than they do about their own egos.”

At first blush, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around this advice, because when I think about “success” it’s difficult for me to disconnect it from my ego. I mean, I think when I consider what it means to have a “successful” life, I assume my happiness is the only thing at stake.

Happy marriage, great job, nice cars, beautiful house, maybe a little fame and popularity—isn’t this success?

But then it occurred to me, suddenly: Success (true success) isn’t really about me at all. A successful marriage isn’t a happy marriage, necessarily (although happiness is often the result). A successful marriage is a thriving marriage, where both partners are bringing out the best in each other, and the best in the world around them.

A successful career isn’t a well-paying career, necessarily (although its interesting how those who are most successful in their fields are often rewarded with financial gain).

A successful career happens when as many lives as possible are changed.

The only way for us to uncover this kind of success is to lay down our attachment to ourselves.

We have to be willing to admit where we’ve been wrong in the past—we made the wrong decisions, moved in the wrong direction, said the wrong things, went the wrong ways. We have to be willing to change our habits and patterns, even when change is painful or seems unfair.

We can’t assume every bad thing that has happened in our lives has happened to us. That’s letting our egos get in the way.

We have to assume we played a role.

That’s the only way for us to find a way out of the messes we’re often in—to admit that we know the way out because we know the way in. We got ourselves here. We have to follow the breadcrumbs.

Obviously, this is easier said than done.

Even as I write these words, I can feel my ego get in the way. “What happened to you isn’t your fault!” It’s screaming from inside me, and it’s true. What happened to me wasn’t my fault.

But I can’t let myself twist those words to believe they mean I don’t have responsibility now.

Because I do.

And it’s big responsibility.

I have a responsibility to use what I’ve been given. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little bit, or a lot. I have a responsibility to use it to the best of my ability—which means being resourceful and adventurous and innovative. It means I can’t let petty concerns or my precious reputation get in the way.

I have something beautiful to create (a marriage, a family, a business, a life).

I have a responsibility to work hard. I’m not talking about working too much, or never taking space for myself. What I’m talking about is throwing my whole weight into something, giving it my best shot.

Successful people refuse to their challenges as an excuse. They stay committed to things over time.

And what’s truly amazing to me about those who are really successful in life is that success can look a thousand different ways—from a young man with Down Syndrome who opens his own restaurant, to a Olympic Gold Medalist—and yet regardless of the name on the accomplishment, it has its way of reflecting the precious and the divine.

Perhaps it is for this reason it matters so much.


No, seriously, we can be friends...we can email back and forth and everything! :) 

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Posted in

Allison Fallon

I write books. I help people write books. I believe a regular practice of writing can change your life.

32 thoughts on “Why Some People Thrive And Others Don’t”

  1. Great insights.
    Most times we miss out on being successful & achieving our best when we focus on ourselves. It is only by being mindful of others that we will achieve true success.

    Sometimes we hold dear to what we have without realizing that we can achieve more by releasing whatever we are holding onto.

    Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”.

  2. I normally just lurk around on your blog, Allison, reading and not commenting. But I went to bed last night thinking about just this, and then I woke up to your post — as though you were conversing with me from across the U.S. Your writing is a blessing, to me and others, and no more so than today. Thank you.

  3. It’s so hard to get our egos out of the way, but when we can let go our self-image and do the work amazing things can happen. This is such a great reminder, Allison. Thanks.

  4. I have these same thoughts. While many have gone through similar circumstances, why do some maintain a positive outlook, while others carry a “poor me” mentality. I agree that some of it is our disposition, and some is just the way we look at how to use our experiences to grow. . .

    Thank you for your words! 🙂

  5. It was hard for me to find your blog in google search results.
    I found it on 15 spot, you have to build a lot of quality
    backlinks , it will help you to get more visitors.
    I know how to help you, just type in google – k2 seo tips

  6. I am reading all your posts from the beginning and I got to this one today. It was a good reminder, even though these horrible horrible things have happened in my life in the last 5 years… I have to keep going. I don’t know if I will ever thrive again, but I can keep getting out of bed. Thanks for your wise words. Love your blog and would love to subscribe by email, but not sure how?

  7. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am going
    through problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it.

    Is there anybody having the same RSS issues?
    Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond?

  8. That is really interesting, You’re an excessively skilled
    blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for seeking more of
    your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my
    social networks

  9. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering troubles with
    your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable
    to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS issues?
    Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond?

  10. We stumbled over here from a different web page and
    thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now
    i’m following you. Look forward to looking at
    your web page for a second time.

  11. What’s up, this weekend is pleasant in favor
    of me, because this point in time i am reading this wonderful educational paragraph here at my residence.

  12. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post.
    Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  13. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest
    authoring on other websites? I have a blog
    based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know
    my readers would value your work. If you are even remotely interested,
    feel free to send me an e-mail.

  14. I’m excited to find this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!!

    I definitely appreciated every bit of it and i also have
    you saved to fav to check out new information in your site.

  15. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed
    surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  16. Howdy! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for your great info you’ve
    got right here on this post. I am returning to your
    site for more soon.

  17. I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading extremely slow
    for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?

    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  18. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering issues with your site.

    It looks like some of the written text within your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know
    if this is happening to them too? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
    Appreciate it

    It is a very hard situation when playing the lottery and never won, or keep winning low fund not up to 100 bucks, i have been a victim of such a tough life, the biggest fund i have ever won was 100 bucks, and i have been playing lottery for almost 12 years now, things suddenly change the moment i came across a secret online, a testimony of a spell caster called dr emu, who help people in any type of lottery numbers, i was not easily convinced, but i decided to give try, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of dr emu, i won $1,000.0000.00 and i am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery.

    Contact him on email Em*******@gm***.com
    What’s app +2347012841542

  20. Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this
    piece of writing i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible piece of writing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × 5 =

Feeling Stuck? Join 10,000+ others for Monday Motivation

Inspiration for your writing (and your life) delivered directly to your inbox every week.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top

My new book is available for pre-order!

Discover the power of (finally) getting unstuck, claiming your clarity, and becoming the person whose life you want to live—all through a simple self-care practice you can build into your daily routine.