SUCCESS … IS A LOW HANGING FRUIT: PART 2
Last week we had looked at plants like the Chinese Bamboo tree and other less evolved (debatable, keeping in mind what we humans are doing to the planet Earth and each other) beings like the wood frog and migratory birds and their journey towards inevitable success. Of course, their success is judged on the parameters that God has set for them- survive and procreate to take their species forward. Let’s now look at the most wonderful creation of God- human beings and their tryst with success. For that, we need to first define what success is. Success means many things to many people- fame, money, career advancement, good health et al. In this article we will try and agree upon a working definition of success and then see its various manifestations.
I recently visited a friend of mine who has a one-year-old child. While we were admiring the antics of the child over a cup of tea, the mother of the child quipped, “I am taking her to the paediatrician tomorrow”. “Why?” was our natural question as the child was looking perfectly healthy and happy to us. “She is one year old now and still not walking, I am worried,” was the reply of the young mother. She further added that her neighbour’s son had started walking at eight months of age. We understood the cause of concern of the mother.
A child who attempts to walk first has no success precept in mind and is not afraid to fall and rise again, even if she gets injured in the process once in a while. She is not bothered if she is not walking until one year of age, the normal walking age for a child in our society. Why, she is not even bothered to see her neighbourhood child walk at eight months of age, though her parents might be. She doesn’t consider herself to be a failure just because she walked a few months later than her neighbourhood child.
Is walking for a child or growing into a healthy tree for a Chinese bamboo seed or successful migration for the Red Knot or waking up alive after months of hibernation for a wood frog a success? If the child who walks at eight months of age (ostensibly more successful on the parameter of walking) grows into a drug addict and rapist, and the child who walks at fifteen months of age (ostensibly less successful on the parameter of walking) grows into a rich philanthropist, who has been successful? This brings us back to the fundamental question- what is success and how can it be defined?
We have a dear friend who is blessed with two wonderful children, both grown up. The elder one, a son, is passionate about making music and travels around in India and abroad with his group. He is in his mid-30s, unmarried and without a steady income. Their daughter, on the other hand, is a commercial pilot, flying for a reputed Airline as a captain now. The parents are very proud of their daughter’s success. Whenever we meet this couple, the discussion invariably shifts to the apparent diverse lifestyles of their son and daughter. The mother especially is quite vocal about the fact that the son has now chased his passion enough and should settle down in life. The son though is happy and enjoying his life and couldn’t care less if his parents are not.
It is a debatable point as to which of these two children are successful. Both are happy living their dreams with one having a respected job which pays her regularly while the other is living out of his suitcase with a meagre and sporadic income. Going by the conventional wisdom and our societal norms (at least in India), the daughter would be considered a success while the son may not be. Their parents go very much by conventional wisdom. But is it the correct parameter of success? I would hasten to add that given the information here, probably it would be difficult to judge these children on success parameters anyway.
The Oxford Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” as also “the attainment of fame, wealth or social status”. If we take the first definition, the son and daughter are both successful. While if we consider the second one, the son will squarely fall into the unsuccessful category while the daughter, given the limited information, might be called successful. The definition though appears incomplete as true success must contain much more than the physical aspects covered in the definition. For true success to be realised one has to be happy and contented on physical, mental, spiritual, social, financial, family and professional fronts. These seven subparts of success could be construed as the Hub and Spoke arrangement, with the family being the hub and other six aspects the spokes. Obviously, if even one of the spokes is out of alignment, the “Wheel of Life” ( a concept beautifully explained by Zig Ziglar in his book- Born to Win) will start to wobble. The family is the hub or fulcrum of all the activities of life and provides the safety net and succour should something goes wrong along any of the six spokes as it invariably would. An illustration is given below.
According to the famous motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale, doing something deliberately and progressively well, which you always wanted to do, is a success. Or in other words- success is a progressive realization of a worthy goal. Hence, the journey has to be as satisfying as the end. I personally believe in this definition of success, as the parameter to define success is firmly rooted within yourself. You set your goals and you decide the path you want to take to reach that goal. Keep enjoying the journey too as the process is as important as the final product and both improve you as a human being.
Having defined success, let me revisit my initial statement that success is a low-hanging fruit provided one doesn’t sweat for it and waits patiently. It goes without saying that you first need to define for yourself what your idea of success is. Success should never be defined against someone else’s yardsticks, not even your parent’s/ spouse’s/ sibling’s/ friends’. We all are having the wonderful experience of this life and have our own journey to salvation.
Having defined success for yourself, look at your “Wheel of Life” and rate yourself along each spoke of your wheel critically. Is your pursuing success on one parameter or spoke getting to adversely affect others? We recently learnt of the tragic suicide of one of the promising Bollywood actors. Was it the result of pursuing the parameter of professional success too doggedly at the cost of other parameters? Did it make his Wheel of Life wobble? We may probably never know but it is a possibility. With your critical examination, the areas where you are falling short on your Wheel of Life will clearly emerge. You now need to make a time-bound programme to improve yourself in each of the areas where you are falling short according to your own yardsticks. The goals and the time-frame to achieve those must be SMART- Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant and Time-bound. Having done so, march fearlessly on the path of improvement, detaching yourself from the outcome. If the outcome is not as per your expectation or plan, don’t treat it as a failure, it’s only a consequence , of your effort. Learn from these consequences and carry out the course-correction to your initial path to each goal. Success will be yours, trust me and try, it works.
To some of my readers, all this may seem too simplistic and utopian and you may not be wrong. We will take the example of the financial part of success. In a famous study, which was conducted over a long period of 30-35 years, it was found that on an average out of hundred men/women, who set out to achieve financial success, only one finally emerged at the pinnacle- read rich. Four were reasonably successful- read financially independent, five were still working towards financial freedom, fifty-four were broke and the rest (thirty-six) had nothing to write home about on the financial front.
Why did 95% of this universe of study not succeed? And if we look around we find many who are struggling on one or more parameters of the Wheel of Life. No one sets out to be unsuccessful in life and yet many are consigned to a life of lack, unhappiness and unfulfillment. On the other hand, many achieve spectacular success which seems to come to them effortlessly and naturally. It is my firm belief that success indeed leaves clues as also successful persons do. In my quest for clues to this profound question, I read life stories of hundreds of successful persons from all walks of life. I also read scriptures and lots of literature/books on success and its principles by prominent self-help authors. Some precepts started to become clear to me due to this twin-pronged study as if a heavy fog had lifted. I also looked back on my life of the last 50 odd years and introspected. There were areas where I had emerged very successfully while in many other areas I had only achieved mediocre success or even failure. The jigsaw puzzle fell into place for me once I compared my successes and failures against the principles gleaned from my study.
Speaking especially of our scriptures, it is time that we read and internalise the eternal truths contained within them. Our prophets, sages and ancestors left a treasure trove for us to benefit from, which we seem to have lost over time. This has been alluded to in Chapter III, Verses 38 and 39 of Bhagavadgita.
The bottom line, that we should never lose sight of, is that all of us yearn to achieve happiness and avoid unhappiness. All our actions or lack of them in life are geared towards this. All the parameters of success, which are represented in the Wheel of Life, or otherwise, are our drive towards happiness. Why do we aspire for better health, more money, compatible spouse or career advancement? We believe that it will enhance our happiness. With this eternal truth firmly established, in the series of articles that follow, we will look at the wisdom of our scriptures and examples of successful people from all walks of life and try to distil the elixir which gives us the alchemy to achieve success.
The last few months have created lots of distress on the health and financial fronts to millions in our country and abroad. Please take all precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy in these CoVid times. For your financial well being, I am forwarding the link to my bestselling book- The Millionaire Mechanic. Hope it gets you back on track financially.
The Millionaire Mechanic: Financial Wisdom in the Rann https://www.amazon.in/dp/1646787404/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_i_-ZU9EbFWMC05T
Read Part 1 of this article here: