Finding Your Own Formula for Success

Maybe hard work will help you get there; then again, maybe not

K M Brown
7 min readOct 1, 2021


That’s how some people say you’ll get ahead. Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

I remember sitting in front of an employment agency recruiter in my 20s, trying to get help with finding a job. She asked me what I could do, and I said “Anything.” I learned quickly, I told her, and I worked hard. Clearly, I would be a prime candidate for any of the openings she was trying to fill.

She looked doubtful, and after a few half-hearted attempts, said it was unlikely that she’d be able to place me. It probably didn’t help that I told her I could do her job, for example. I was perfectly capable of sitting at a desk and asking questions of aspiring employees. I’m not sure that earned me any points.

Since I didn’t have a degree in HR, I wasn’t really qualified for her position anyway or for any of the others she was recruiting for. But I eventually found a job on my own, not a good one, and for the next several years, I bounced back and forth between being underemployed and being unemployed until I finally developed a career plan and jumped through the hoops to put it in place. I was a late bloomer.

My father’s formula for success — hard work

That wasn’t entirely my fault. I had grown up being told by my parents that getting a job with a good company was the path to success. Once I had my foot in the door, they said, my hard work would move me up through the ranks the way my father’s hard work had made him a success at the phone company. He had started out in the switchroom, and when his considerable talents were noticed, he was moved into management. Then he was promoted to an even better managerial job, and rung by rung, up the ladder he went.

That’s the kind of gig I was looking for. I wanted to be with a company, any company, where I could prove myself and fight my way to the top. I was a hard worker; that’s what I told myself, so I should have no trouble at all finding success. In fact, it was probably looking for me.

Part I of my formula for success — find your passion

Success is an outcome that’s best achieved through the pursuit of something else, something we’re passionate about, something that…



K M Brown

Retired psychotherapist who loves a good story. Author of From Fear to There: Becoming a Confident Traveler