"First we must consider what living well consists in and how it is to be attained... is it through learning - happiness being a form of knowledge... is it through a kind of training... after habituation?" Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, Book I (revised translation by Jonathan Barnes, Professor at Oxford and the Sorbonne)
Surprisingly few schools teach about the science and principles of success these days, while most schools skip the subject of success entirely. However, success and well-being were once taught systematically with principles and problem-solving for success and relationships. In the United States, college students were once required to take a class about success and well-being that used the ancient works of Aristotle, the person who classified the academic subjects we are all familiar with.
The Beginning of Success Education & Training
Aristotle wrote two of the earliest systematic books about excellence, success, and flourishing. Near the end of The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle advocates both for mass education and individualized teaching. These are key for success.
Aristotle's idea was not new. After studying at Plato's Academy for 20 year, Aristotle created his own school called the Lyceum. Before Plato started his Academy in Athens, his teacher, Socrates, individually taught students and advocated to educate both boys and girls (see Plato's Republic and Plato's Laws) for the sake of societal success and flourishing.
Systematic training in success developed when Aristotle emphasized practical wisdom ("phronesis") of mental reasoning for the development excellence. In reality, his books of ethics were his lecture notes for his Lyceum in Athens where Aristotle taught his students about related topics such as motivation, goals, decision-making, relationships, virtue, and well-being. Well-being was a deep happiness coinciding with true excellence ("arete") and Platonic concept of true friendships.
To develop success and well-being, Aristotle used an analogy from individualized medical treatment in his Nicomachean Ethics as he concluded that experts were necessary for both mass education and ongoing personal training.
"... it is not enough if they get the correct upbringing and attention when they are young; rather, they must continue the same practices and be habituated to them when they become men. Hence, we need laws concerned with these things... It is best, then, if the community attends to upbringing, and attends correctly... Further, education adapted to an individual is actually better than a common education for everyone, just as individualized medical treatment is better." Aristotle, Nicomachian Ethics, Book 10, (translated by Professor Terence Irwin of the University of Oxford)
"Furthermore, individual treatment is superior to group treatment in education as it is in medicine... It seems that each particular is worked out with greater precision if private attention is given, since each person has more of an opportunity to get what he needs. But a physician, a physical trainer, or any other such person can take the best care in a particular case when he knows... is good for everyone or what is good for a particular kind of person; for the sciences are said to be, and actually are, concerned with what is common to particular cases... To inculcate a good disposition in any person...is not a job for just anyone; if anyone can do it, it is a man who knows, just as it is in medicine and in all other matters that involve some sort of care and practical wisdom." Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 10 (translated by Professor Martin Oswald of Swarthmore College)
Roman and Medieval Success
Many writers have since extolled Aristotle's perspectives for success and well-being. Marcus Tullius Cicero condensed these principles into more personable essays that he wrote in Latin for the Roman world, and he thought these principles were more important than own success as a famed orator and political leader. Muslim scholars like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, and Ibn Rushd promoted Aristotle's works, preceding the commentaries of Aristotle's ethics of success by Thomas Aquinas.
"When all your judgments are based on your own wisdom, you tend toward selfishness and fail by straying from the right path... We learn about the sayings and deeds of the men of old in order to entrust ourselves to their wisdom and prevent selfishness. When we throw off our own bias, follow the sayings of the ancients, and confer with other people, matters should go well without mishap." Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hidden by Leaves (early 18th Century)