[Logo by John Silver]
Return Home Manuscripts Art Coins Programs

Is there a secret formula for success? Why do people of equal ability as children differ so dramatically in what they accomplish as adults? Can we predict if a particular fifth grader or eleventh grader or college junior will become an outstanding success? It seems that many of the renowned scholars, eminent scientists, celebrated authors, and, indeed, many of the greatest heroes of history - were, in their youth, average students who made mistakes like us, wrote like us, and had no obvious or special talents. What did they do to become successful, that others didn't?

By studying the lives of the successful figures in history, one can see that several common traits exist! In fact, almost all of them followed the same basic formula for success, even though they may have been unaware that they were following such a path. Using their method, the door to success is open to everyone, without exception. The details of this special formula for success are not a secret, and are important to all who wish to open this door.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum's Cultural Literacy Program passes along to our youth what it views as answers to the mystery of success. The message points out that the daily difficulties, misdirections and errors that we make are no different than those made by everyone, including the most famous names in history. Thus, we will attempt to destroy the myth that all the great historical figures were "born smart". The message also stresses the importance of setting of goals, reveals the secret formula for success(!), and urges a renewal of a sense of purpose for each individual. Presently, the program is being presented to elementary, secondary and college level students in the public schools. A summary of the program follows:

Breaking down the pedestals

The first step in achieving success is to recognize the fallibility of the great heroes of the past, and the realization that making mistakes is no barrier to success.

A major portion of the visual presentation of the program illustrates and describes the simple mistakes, made by great men of the past, even at the moment of their greatest successes. One will see their miscalculations, their erasures, their additions and corrections. In addition, It will be shown that some may have poor handwriting, just like some of us. Examples are given describing how many of them attained success by chance, or by improving on the work of others.

The lesson to be learned is that every single student in school today is capable of greatness. The choice is theirs.

Setting of Goals

The second step in achieving success is to determine one's area of interest, formulate a plan specifying each phase or sub-goal one wishes to attain, and then implement the plan. For example, if one wishes to find a cure for a rare disease, the plan may include the completion of various classes in school, discussions with medical researchers, a comprehensive study of the medical literature including biographies and basic textbooks in the field.

However, in order to satisfy this step, the plan must start now (today, this minute), regardless of age.

Peer Pressure

The third step is short and simple: It is certainly necessary to consider the advice of family and friends. However, once your direction is decided, it is important not to be swayed by distractions and by friends who have nothing important to do...and wish to share this with you.

The secret of success: "obsessive Desire"

The fourth and key step that one must follow to become an important figure in history is obsessive DESIRE ......desire to be a success! While individuals vary in their emotional intensity, all who succeed are highly motivated. Psychologists and philosophers may argue whether individuals can will themselves to have this inner intensity, described by some as having the "eye of the tiger". The ability to create this level of intensity in oneself is critical in satisfying this requirement.

Those who qualify must then call upon this energy and divide it between two types of effort: study and work.

The first of these two, study, must not only be obsessive but life long. One must want to study rather than to watch TV or to "go outside and play". One must want to study rather than "to party". Unfortunately, this aspect of the formula may not normally produce "well-rounded" individuals. One may have to make a choice between being "special" or being "average". Both of these choices have their advantages and disadvantages.

The second type of effort, work, must also be obsessive, however, it must be defined by goals to limit and focus the work. One must want to work on their project rather than watch TV or "go outside and play." One must want to work on their project rather than "to party".


and the



chance observations

The fifth step in achieving success is to be able to recognize and utilize the chance information and observations which may arise. This means that one must be lucky! This fact may be shocking and disturbing, until one realizes that luck is all around us and that the amount of luck one will have each day is directly dependent upon one's study and work habits. Most importantly, luck, alone, in the case of success, is almost worthless. One becomes luckier as the level of study and the level of work increases.

In particular, through a strong program of intense study, one will be better prepared to recognize the importance of a chance discovery - to be able to see luck when it appears.

One must, by hard work, create the opportunity for luck to occur. The more one works, the more that lucky discoveries will occur. It is not unreasonable to approximate that working 50 hours a week should produce twice as many opportunities as 25 hours a week.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library's Cultural Literacy Program includes visual key examples illustrating each of the aspects of the message discussed above.

The presentation is free.

For more information about the Cultural Literacy Program, or to participate in the program, contact the closest Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum..