In every society, since the dawn of time, everyone has been given a model of success. By gender, by caste, by class, by state.

In each society, the model of individual success dominates the shape of this society and the future of its mode of development.

In every society, the dominant model of success has always been defined by the pursuit of power or money or fame. Or all three. Each of the three aiming in fact, in search of a certain form of immortality, which ultimately constitutes the supreme model of success, in all societies, in one way or another.

For a very long time, power provided money and fame. Then, it was money that gave access to power and fame. More recently, celebrity has given some people access to money and power.

In each society, some try to get out of the model of success that is assigned to them, to change class, caste, to escape the model to which its gender or sex destines it. Still others, even more seriously, try not only to change their own model of success, but also that of society as a whole.

In the Hindu world, to succeed, one had to be a Brahmin by birth (or by will, which was theoretically possible); one had then access to all the powers. Money followed and sometimes fame.

In the Roman world, it was necessary to be patrician, that is to say landowner, or general; or both at the same time. Again, power gave access to money; sometimes also fame.   

In the European feudal world, this idealized elite was structured as a seigneury, with nobility ranks perfectly listed; still opening to the same three main forms of success. And each one tried, by a thousand ways, to get in: by the army or by the Church, which both could lead to nobility, money, power, fame. This model of success structured the feudal form of development.

Then, in the port cities, appeared a new elite, merchant, at first despised, removed from circles of power, then becoming a new model of individual success and in turn creating a new model of collective development.

A little later, a broader entrepreneurial success model appeared: industrial, financial. The incomes of these powerful have become even crazier, installing more than ever fortune as the model of absolute success; and capitalism as a model of development. Some sought fame also with power and money; others sought to flee fame to better enjoy wealth and power. All came to power through money, not money through power.

Meanwhile, other professions, previously considered ancillary, have gradually become models of success: doctor, lawyer, teacher, researcher, artist, writer, actor, singer, sportsman.

Even today, new models of success appear, which still mix money, power and celebrity, this time in the most empty form: influencer.

In the current logic, the most likely is that the elites of the future will be those who master artificial intelligence and its various extensions, including those who can connect digital and biological, virtual and real, with essentially mathematical tools. The elites of tomorrow’s society will therefore all be scientific and technocratic elites, either at the service of themselves or at the service of interests that go beyond them.

All these models of individual success are drivers of market growth and structure the mode of development of today’s society, whose benefits have been known, and whose limits are being lived today.

The only way to change the model of economic, ecological and social development is to change the model of individual success.

Individual success models associated with a sustainable development model exist. They are expressed by those for whom success in life is first of all to be useful to future generations, not in a theological way, or as a ruse to obtain immediate power, or money; but in a truly disinterested way.

Countless professions are associated with this new model of success. Those of health, education, culture, democracy, sustainable economy. More generally, all occupations in the life economy, and all forms of non-market activity that define success by the pleasure of being useful, with no other interest than helping others. These trades, these activities, these forms of success are still extremely minority; they nevertheless constitute, by their own dynamics, a weak signal of the evolution of our societies towards a new model of development.

It is only by promoting them, by valuing them, that we will emerge from the deadly model of the death economy. This should be one of the major missions of education.

Image: Pexels.