The Great Gatsby has some great advice for being successful.
The Great Gatsby-you’ve read the book and chances are you’ve seen-or are going to see the film. The book is undoubtedly one of the greatest novels produced about the perception and reality of the American Dream and it’s effect on young Americans. The protagonist of the novel is a dreamer named Gatsby who makes his dreams and hopes a reality. Gatsby’s story is one of reinvention and in our society reinvention is a key to both achieving success and maintaining it. Gatsby is literally a self made man motivated by his goals, desires and a green light. It’s a narrative that every young career seeking individual should know because being successful requires a bit of Gatsby. Here are a few traits that you can use to make your own career as great as Gatsby’s.
1. Define yourself
Gatsby was once James Gatz the child of poor farmers from the midwest but rather than let his circumstances dictate his reality Gatsby never accepts his station. He acknowledges his humble beginnings as a springboard for something greater . “He invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end”, Fitzgerald writes. Gatsby redefines himself and manages to maintain that vision despite the obstacles presented by reality. If you can define yourself then you can ultimately define your future.
2. Find a mentor or two
Gatsby has two mentors in his life-the first is Dan Cody a copper mogul. Gatsby warns Cody-who is on a yacht on Lake Superior-of an impending storm. Cody takes Gatsby under his wing and teaches him the rules of wealth and luxury. Gatsby also is able to learn from Cody’s flaws-Cody was a drunk and Gatsby takes note of that failure. The second mentor Gatsby connects to is Meyer Wolfshiem. Wolfshiem ultimately helps Gatsby make his fortune through bootlegging illegal liquor. Its not the “bootlegging” that we should pay attention to but the fact that Gatsby recognizes the connect between those he chooses to be influenced by. If Cody-who was a powerful man can be minimized by his alcoholism-how much more powerful is the man who provides his liquor? Choosing a mentor doesn’t mean accepting the philosophy of the mentor but analyzing and adapting it.
Gatsby’s desire for Daisy is what propels him to his elevated status. Many people believe that “love” or the illusion of “love” is what Gatsby put his hopes in during his rise to prominence. However that’s only a part of the beauty of Fitzgerald’s narrative. Daisy represents the “promise” of success. That “promise” or success is fleeting. Much like Daisy decides to marry Tom while waiting for Gatsby to return-our own promises can marry other people while we prepare to take them on. The key to gaining the “promise” of success is to find the symbol of success in your own life. Your Daisy can be a car, or a home or acknowledgment. The important thing to remember is that your “Daisy” is accessible to anyone and is only symbolic of the “promise”.
One of the most underrated dynamics of success is networking. Gatsby makes several connections through throwing his elaborate parties all in hopes of finding Daisy. He also builds in impressive network in the city rubbing shoulders with influential figures like the Senator and the Police Commissioner. Knowing the right people at the right time is imperative to being successful and maintaining success. Although it’s cliche-you are the company you keep. One of the things that makes Gatsby “Great” is his ability to function with several different types of people. The most successful people are able to eat with kings and gamble with thieves.
5. What’s your green light?
Gatsby put himself as close to Daisy as he could without violating her space. He purchased a house that was in view of her estate and used the green light at the end of her dock as a symbol of why he had to continue his upward rise. Gatsby’s green light motivated him to keep going to keep climbing the ladder of success. What’s your green light? What is the thing that is close to you but outside of your reach? When you can discover your green light your motivation will increase exponentially. It’s akin to Kobe Bryant chasing the perfect game or Stephen King writing the perfect novel. Creating a green light is only half of the process-you must put yourself as close as possible to your goals and dreams. You want to be a fashion designer? Place yourself in close proximity to the best fashion house. Do you have dreams of being an A&R? Maybe you should consider finding a space close to Universal
6. Don’t live in the past
Once the “great” illusion of Gatsby is revealed we can see his greatest flaw-his inability to let go of the past. The greatest lesson to be learned in the tragic tale of Gatsby is his determination to recreate the past. Any great investor lives by the mantra, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future success”. The opposite is true as well, because perceived failures can always blossom into success. Look at the journey of Michael Jordan-he was cut from his high school basketball team but became the greatest athlete of his generation. How many times did Kanye West share his beats with A&Rs before someone gave him a break? What if Kate Upton decided that her “figure” wasn’t ideal enough to be a model? The past can neither dictate nor prevent the future unless you agree with it. What Gatsby failed to realize is that he never had to “repeat the past” because he determined his own fate by defying his past.
Written by Eric Montgomery