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Does One’s Origins Impact Achievement?

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it. 


Does One’s Origins Impact Achievement?

By P.J. Malone

“In Canada, you may start with very little, but you have the privilege of soaring to any height imaginable” Peter Nygard

To what extent does where you are born or where you grow up impact your ability to achieve success in your life? When fashion mogul Peter Nygard said thank goodness he was ‘born in Finland and not Estonia, born on the right side of the Iron Curtain’, does it really matter?

From what we know of living under communist rule, we’re pretty sure it does make a difference.

First of all, in communist countries, there is no focus on capitalism or private ownership. ‘The State’ owns everything. While some individuals are known to operate their own businesses, property is still always owned by the State. And, it has been said that if you get too rich and powerful in your business, you become a target of the State, unless of course you have good relationships with the controllers of the State.

This is because a principle of communism involves focusing on collectivism and not individualism—working for the good of all as opposed to working just for the individual.

So if Peter Nygard grew up in a communist country, there would likely have been several challenges to the characteristics that he embodies that could’ve influenced his multi-million-dollar success.

One element of communist countries is its repressive nature. People who grow up in communist countries feel a sense of repression, a lack of freedom. In such societies, the State decides what’s best for its citizens.

Its citizens are expected to abide by the rules of ‘running with the pack’ and not attempt to go out on their own, so to speak.

Nygard is especially known to march to his own drumbeat and for relying on his intuitive sense. He does his own thing no matter what everyone else in the business is doing or what may appear to be the logical thing to do.

Would Nygard still have grown up believing that ‘nothing is impossible’ in a communist country? If he had the same role models as his father and grandfather, possibly. But, we’d imagine that it may be a little bit more difficult to sustain that belief in a repressive country with examples to the contrary surrounding you everywhere.

The idea—in its purity—promoted in communist countries that everyone should be equal would crush Nygard’s desire to always compete and be the best in everything that he does: While this thinking may be encouraged in sports and competitions against other countries, it’s not desired when it comes to business size and profits.

A characteristic that appears to dog communist countries is their level of poverty. Though poverty exists everywhere, it seems to be described as more of the standard in Communist countries, especially the inability to feed its citizens adequately.

Having to constantly focus on the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs—the Physiological Needs required for human survival—makes it more difficult to get to the top to achieve self-actualization. This is even more challenging when society all around you is pushing you back down so you don’t rise above the rest. Remember, equality is the order of the day, not standing out from the crowd.

The biggest disadvantage for Peter Nygard if he had to grow up in such a society is not having that Finnish Sisu spirit, that ability to be brave, resolute and determined to fight against all odds. Though not impossible, it would make it more difficult for him to overcome difficult circumstances and persevere against all odds without it.

Yet, it is hard to believe that anything could have ever stopped Peter Nygard achieving the level of success that he has.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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