THE QUESTION

Against the odds

One did time in prison. Another was raised by migrant farmworkers. All came from humble origins. Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, dancer Bill T. Jones, Broadway composer Jerry Herman and Paul McCartney recently received one of the world's highest awards for artists: the Kennedy Center Honors. What does this tell us, if anything, about the will to succeed, the importance of personal history and the theme of the American Dream?

Posted by Success Editors on December 13, 2010 5:20 PM
FROM THE PANEL

The best motivator

I think that the drive to succeed is much greater and stronger if a person comes from humble beginnings.

Posted by Kristina Bouweiri, on December 13, 2010 4:58 PM

The dream lives on

Why do some people from families with many financial advantages end up accomplishing so little, while those who have no advantages end up doing so well?

Posted by Jan Scruggs, on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM

Underdogs on top

I suspect that whether or not they became superstars, Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard and Jerry Herman would be composing and singing; Oprah Winfrey would be entertaining; and Bill T. Jones would be choreographing someone's movements.

Posted by Allison Miner, on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM

Passion and practice

When I see a successful person, I see three interwoven factors: talent, experience, and circumstance.

Posted by Jennifer Tucker, on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM

Seize the moment!

In this grim era, we need exceptional models of startling achievement, such as the Kennedy Center honorees, to remind us of the possibilities. We will only find triumph again by believing we really can do it.

Posted by Patricia McGuire, on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM

A winning combo

Let's take a closer look at Scarlett O'Hara. She is tenacious, scheming, politically savvy, forceful, smart, and flamboyant. She possesses an inner force that continuously drives her forward.

Posted by Virginia Bianco-Mathis, on December 13, 2010 12:00 AM

FEATURED COMMENTS

groucho42: All it shows is that most people have a chance. Considering how many people from those same social strata and backgrounds tried and failed, ...

adaisfaithdestiny: Sometimes adversities in life drive people to succeed. Often sheer drive, determination, hard work and a belief in the power of God and one ...

fclr66: At least one of the things it tells us is that people who entertain us and make a lot of money are a "success". Which means our values are ...

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