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Sample Response to GMAT AWA Issue Questions

6. “There is only one definition of success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.” To what extent do you agree or disagree with this definition of success? Support your position by using reasons and examples from your reading, your own experience, or your observation of others.

The speaker defines success simply as the ability of someone to spend his life in his own way. While success generally means more choices, I disagree with this point of view for the following three reasons.

First, nearly all people would be regarded as failures under this definition. Most people have limited resources for what they can do and how they achieve it. In this case, they are unable to spend their life in their own way. On the other hand, only a few people, such as tyrannical dictators and ultra-wealthy individuals, have the unlimited resources and therefore are considered successful.

Furthermore, even the people who have freedom of choices are not necessarily successful because they may acquire it through uncommon means. For example, lottery winners may have great financial resources and be able to spend their life in any way they choose, but they will not be regarded as successful by most other people. Rather, most people regard success as achieving their goals. The more you achieve, the more successful you are; conversely, the less you achieve the less successful you are.

A good example is a very successful chief financial officer at a large company in the Silicon Valley in the United States. When he returned from a week's vacation, he found 2,000 email messages in his computer. He didn't take the trouble of reading them one by one as everyone else might do; instead, he did it in his own way -- erasing them all. His unique theory was that the important communications would be repeated. Couldn't we conclude that his doing things in his way is to some extent related to his success?

In sum, "to spend your life in your own way" should not only be the only definition of success. Rather, the word “success” is better defined in terms of the attainment of goals.


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