👥 The successful
In our discussion, the term "successful" or "upper-class" encompasses both the elites in our society and groups like entrepreneurs and self-made individuals. In this definition, they have a lot of capital in their respective habitus capital pods and thus take a higher rank in the social space. However, it is important to acknowledge that there is a distinction between the elites, who come from "old-money" backgrounds with a heritage, and successful individuals who are newcomers, such as entrepreneurs or self-made individuals, since the elites do not necessarily need to be successful. It is of great importance to note and up for debate whether "old money" elites are even worthy of being called successful, but that is a topic in itself.
📈 Definition of success
Success itself can be defined in a broad and diverse manner. For instance, a single mom achieving success by providing a peaceful upbringing for her children or a painter finding success through the appreciation of their work. It is crucial to note that success is not limited to financial achievements or gaining power. Success can also be found in the cohesion and strength of a family unit, just as a successful entrepreneur experiences when launching a new startup. Success can mean different things to different people. It is important to define what success means to you.
The Habitus of successful people
“If they are successful, they take responsibility for their success – but if they fail, they blame others.” - Dr. Dr. Rainer Zitelmann
One thing that most upper-class habitus possesses is the sense of responsibility for their lives. They don't simply accept things as they are; rather, they challenge them along the way. This is a defining characteristic of higher-ranking habitus in the social sphere (Rainer Zitelmann, 2019).
Especially the elites portrait a Habitus of distinction
The way individuals of the upper-class Habitus live and behave is a reflection of their lifestyle and personal qualities, which makes them stand out in society. Their outlook on life and how they act differentiates them from other Habitus. The upper class and elites embody a blend of lifestyle, character traits, influence, and social commentary. Their distinct habits, attitudes, and styles reflects their privileged position and aspirations for cultural dominance (KlausMJan, 2020; Von Brackel, 2011; Spiegel, 2011); Märtin, 2019). Some characterisitics are especially worth to be highlited:
The upper class embraces a lifestyle that is marked by abundance and refinement. They are known for their exquisite tastes, indulging in luxurious experiences, and enjoying the finer things in life. This elevated lifestyle serves as a symbol of their elevated social status, reinforcing their position as the elite.
Elites understand the power of presentation and style. They effortlessly carry themselves with grace, elegance, and poise, commanding attention wherever they go. Their impeccable fashion choices, adorned with high-end brands and meticulous attention to detail, further accentuate their status as tastemakers and trendsetters.
What truly sets the upper class apart are their distinctive character traits and attitudes. Research has shown that individuals in this social stratum possess a unique set of qualities. They tend to exhibit lower levels of neuroticism, embracing a calm and composed demeanor. Extraversion comes naturally to them, as they effortlessly navigate social situations with charm and confidence. Their openness to new experiences and curiosity drives their constant pursuit of knowledge and cultural enrichment. While their lower agreeableness might be perceived as a flaw, it actually reflects their ability to make tough decisions and navigate conflicts without fear.
One striking aspect of the upper class is their profound awareness of social commentary and their ability to confidently defy it. They possess a keen understanding of the power dynamics at play in society and actively engage in shaping societal discourse. Their influence extends beyond material wealth; they leverage their cultural capital to define values, norms, and lifestyle choices that permeate the broader culture. Elites strive for cultural dominance and are at the forefront of societal transformations.
The habitus of the elites is deeply influenced by symbolic and cultural capital. They possess a cosmopolitan orientation and are well-versed in various cultural domains. This cultural hegemony enables them to define and shape their elite status, while also exerting influence over wider social dynamics. Their pursuit of prestige and social recognition goes hand in hand with their desire for cultural dominance. Through their values, norms, and lifestyle choices, they continuously seek to shape societal discourses, leaving an indelible mark on the world around them.
Knowing social commentary is one of the most important characteristics of higher-class habitus
The host of a upper-class garden party, serves as a prime illustration of this phenomenon:
Despite the elegant setting and the presence of well-dressed guests, the host stands out with his sunburned forehead, faded jeans, and a blue windbreaker. This deliberate choice of attire challenges the conventional expectations of formal dress at such an event. However, the host is not alone in his casual appearance. Many other guests also defy traditional norms by wearing untucked polo shirts and displaying sun-kissed faces.
This relaxed transgression of social norms highlights one of the fundamental aspects of the upper-class habitus—the ability to possess a deep understanding of social commentary and confidently defy it.
Bourdieu argues that the upper class acquires this knowledge through their upbringing and socialization, allowing them to effortlessly bend the rules without facing significant social consequences. In the case of the host and his guests, their attire serves as a subtle expression of their wealth and privilege. Their nonchalant violation of societal expectations becomes a form of status display, reinforcing their membership in the upper class (Spiegel, 2011).
Moving in the social space
Moving in social spaces is much easier for individuals possessing a higher-class habitus than the other way around. They understand the social commentary so well that they can deliberately decide how to act and how not to act (Märtin, 2019).
- The upper-class habitus is characterized by a distinctive lifestyle, presentation, character traits, and influence, reflecting their privileged position and aspirations for cultural dominance.
- The upper class embraces an abundant and refined lifestyle, showcases impeccable style and fashion choices, and possesses unique character traits and attitudes.
- Their ability to understand and challenge social commentary sets them apart, allowing them to defy traditional norms and shape societal discourse.
- Cultural hegemony and social dominance play a significant role in the habitus of the elites, as they leverage their cultural capital to define values, norms, and lifestyle choices.
- Understanding social commentary and deliberately violating social rules are crucial characteristics of the higher-class habitus, enabling individuals to navigate social spaces with ease and confidence.
And what we can learn from them
All good to know - but how should that bother me you’re asking? I’ll tell you.
As discussed earlier, the upper-class habitus possesses a unique set of qualities that set them apart from other social strata. These qualities include lifestyle, character traits, influence, and social commentary but also more qualitative factors that each and everyone can learn. In the following, we’ll explore these qualities and what we can learn from them to excel in our own lives.
What we can learn for our professional success
The habitus of successful individuals encompasses a range of characteristics that contribute to their achievements. By embracing qualities such as emotional stability, sociability, openness to new experiences, tolerance, conflict engagement, optimism, resilience, and interpersonal skills, we can unlock our potential for success and personal growth. Learning from these traits allows us to cultivate a mindset and behavior that align with the habits of successful individuals, empowering us to reach new heights in our own endeavors.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the core aspects we can learn from those.
Successful individuals possess lower levels of neuroticism and exhibit greater psychological and emotional stability. This allows them to maintain composure and make rational decisions even in high-pressure situations. By fostering psychological and emotional stability, we can navigate challenges more effectively and approach them with a calm and rational mindset.
Successful individuals are often extraverted and enjoy being around people. They thrive in social settings, build relationships effectively, and collaborate with different stakeholders. By promoting sociability and valuing social interactions, we can expand our networks, leverage the power of connections, and create opportunities for collaboration and growth.
Successful individuals have a natural inclination toward exploring new experiences and possess a curious mindset. They are eager to learn and embrace diverse perspectives. By encouraging openness to new experiences and nurturing our curiosity, we can broaden our horizons, continuously learn, and adapt to changing circumstances, thereby fostering personal growth and innovation.
Successful individuals exhibit tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness. They embrace diversity and benefit from different perspectives. By cultivating tolerance and developing conflict resolution skills, we can create inclusive environments, enhance our problem-solving abilities, and foster harmonious relationships, leading to more effective collaboration and positive outcomes.
Optimism and resilience are key traits of successful individuals. They maintain a positive outlook even in the face of adversity and remain determined in pursuing their goals. By emphasizing optimism and resilience, we can navigate setbacks with grace, maintain focus on our objectives, and persist in the face of obstacles, ultimately increasing our chances of success.
Successful individuals possess the ability to win people over through effective communication and interpersonal skills. They build rapport, inspire trust, and motivate others to join their cause. By developing charismatic communication and interpersonal skills, including active listening, effective communication, and empathy, we can enhance our ability to connect with others, influence positive change, and foster collaborative environments (Märtin, 2019; Spiegel, 2011).
What we can learn to shape the elite in you
Successful individuals can adopt or adapt the cosmopolitan attitude of the "New Elites" by being open-minded, embracing diversity, and fostering a global perspective. This can enhance personal growth, resilience, and achievement by promoting cultural understanding, creativity, and adaptability.
Cultivating symbolic and cultural capital, such as prestige, social recognition, style, and sophistication, can contribute to personal growth and achievement. Successful individuals can focus on acquiring knowledge, refining their skills, and engaging in activities that enhance their cultural capital, thereby opening doors to opportunities and expanding their influence.
Successful individuals can learn from the traits exhibited by millionaires and self-made individuals, such as optimism, resilience, extraversion, openness to new experiences, curiosity, and tolerance. Adopting these traits can contribute to personal growth, professional success, and the ability to overcome challenges on the path to achieving goals.
Understanding the role of social background and habitus in determining success can provide valuable insights. Successful individuals can leverage their upbringing, networks, and cultural understanding to navigate professional environments effectively. Recognizing the importance of behavioral cues, cultural capital, and confidence can enhance personal growth, resilience, and achievement.
By incorporating these lessons into your own live, you can enhance your personal growth, resilience, and achievement, aligning yourself with successful individuals and improving chances of reaching your goals (KlausMJan, 2020; Von Brackel, 2011; Gladwell & Neubauer, 2010; F.A.S., o. D.).
- Successful individuals exhibit psychological and emotional stability, sociability, openness to new experiences, tolerance, conflict resolution skills, optimism, resilience, and charismatic communication and interpersonal skills.
- Adopting cosmopolitan attitudes, developing cultural capital, incorporating personality traits for success, and leveraging social background and habitus contribute to personal growth and achievement.
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