Advice & Help

What Determines Your Success?


Throughout the ages, the wisest and most profound thinkers have been trying to find the answer to one question: What determines success? Why is that some people enjoy deep personal relationships, close friendships, good health, a great income and all the other trappings of success while others are peering in through the shop window of life asking why not me?

Family Background

Generally speaking, kids raised in well-to-do environments tend to be exposed to certain behaviors and values that contribute to the development of positive success habits. On the other hand, those born in an impoverished ghetto environment are more exposed to situations and attitudes that lead to unsuccessful habits. Research has shown that children raised on the “wrong side of the tracks” are more likely to fail in school and engage in criminal activities when compared to their counterparts from middle and upper-class homes. Notwithstanding, there are many examples of individuals who had all the material and creature comforts they needed and yet turned out to be dismal failures. At the same time, countless others who were born into a poor environment, and thus given little chance of success, went on to make huge successes of their lives.



Is success found in genes and handed from one generation to the next through procreation? We know that successful people come in all color, shapes and sizes. You can find successful people in every racial and ethnic group.


Our society has led us to believe that those who are deemed more intelligent are more likely to succeed. In 1928 Dr Lewis Terman conducted a study of 1,528 gifted students who had IQs at the genius level. The results proved the “Termites” (as they came to be known) to be remarkable in some ways and quite ordinary in others. Two-thirds of the Terman men and women earned bachelor’s degrees – 10 times the national average for their time. Ninety-seven of them earned PhDs, fifty-seven earned MDs and there were ninety-two lawyers. On the other hand, some of them were representative of normal everyday 20th century Americans. Some died young as a result of diseases, accidents or suicide. A few were arrested; one went to prison for forgery. About 40% of the men served in World War II. As a group, Terman’s kids got divorced, committed suicide and ecame alcoholics at about the national rate.


Success is Psychological

The consensus of all the sages, philosophers and thinkers is that success is primarily psychological. Upwards of 80% of the way you think is responsible for your success.

In his book

William James of Harvard said “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings, by changing the inner aspects of their mind, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

The great Jamaican philosopher Bob Marley chimes in, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” It seems that no matter what hand life deals us at birth, ultimately we are the ones who determine our level of success.Think Like A Winner!, Dr Walter Staples writes “The key to success lies in your particular manner of thinking. When you change how you think about yourself, your relationships, your goals, and your world, your life changes. If you change the quality of your thinking, you necessarily will change the quality of you life.”

Keep On Pushing!

Is it family background, heredity, or education? Could it be their level of intelligence, education or are they just plain lucky? Could it be a combination of the above?

On the surface, one can easily make the argument that all these factors, at least collectively, play a vital role in one’s success. Let’s examine them more closely.

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.