What Drives Success? by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

“What Drives Success?” is an essay written by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. The essay was published in The New York Times in 2014 and explores cultural and societal factors that contribute to success, particularly within certain ethnic groups in the United States.

Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale University, and Jed Rubenfeld, also a law professor at Yale, co-authored this essay based on their research and observations. The authors discuss three specific traits they believe are common among successful ethnic groups: a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control.

The authors’ thesis is that these three traits often combine to foster a competitive drive and work ethic that contributes to success in education, career, and other aspects of life. They emphasize that these traits are not exclusive to any one ethnicity but are common among certain groups that have achieved remarkable success in the United States.

Key points and themes in the essay include:

Superiority Complex: The authors argue that successful ethnic groups often possess a sense of exceptionalism and believe that they are inherently better than others. This belief can motivate individuals to strive for high achievements and stand out.

Insecurity: Chua and Rubenfeld suggest that an underlying sense of insecurity can drive individuals to work harder and seek validation through accomplishments. This insecurity might stem from historical discrimination or a drive to overcome obstacles.

Impulse Control: The authors discuss the idea that successful individuals often exhibit strong impulse control, which allows them to delay gratification and make disciplined choices, even in the face of challenges.

Cultural and Family Factors: Chua and Rubenfeld attribute some of these traits to cultural norms and family values that emphasize education, hard work, and ambition. They discuss how certain ethnic groups maintain strong family structures and traditions that prioritize education and achievement.

Criticism and Controversy: The essay generated a significant amount of debate and controversy. Some praised the authors for addressing factors that contribute to success, while others criticized the essay for oversimplifying complex issues and promoting stereotypes.

It’s important to note that the essay was met with mixed reactions and prompted discussions about the role of culture, race, and socio-economic factors in success. Critics argued that the essay oversimplified the concept of success and ignored systemic factors that affect opportunities for different ethnic groups.

“What Drives Success?” raised important questions about the complex interplay of individual attributes, cultural influences, and socio-economic factors in shaping success. It also underscored the need to consider a broader range of perspectives when discussing achievement and opportunity in society.

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