What is Success? Really, what is it? A question that confounds most right up to their graves. Something that they pursue all their life, with all their might, struggle and yet do not find answers. How long can we allow ourselves to live and die ignorantly?
I am writing this with a hope that someone out there, who is really tired of struggling, of being in pain, of being unhappy, of being rich yet alone, of running from one failure to another, of attaining it all, of the race, just simply tired, confused and lost and is now inclined and willing to answer this basic question on what success is and isn’t, will read this and introspect.
In this blog, the intricacies of the problem called success are discussed. As you will read it, many thoughts and emotions like compulsions, agitations, anger, defeat, hope, hopelessness, ego, aggression, and more will emerge. Let these flow. Allow these to surface. Remember these will be your thoughts and your emotions. Not ours. Take responsibility for these instead of throwing these on others in the attempt of burning them down.
When I searched on google for “what is success?” on June 10, 2020, at 1530 hrs (India time), there were 16,40,000 results. Within each result were articles, blogs, research notes, videos, and more. A profound repository of information. For a seeker, it is a lot of information. A lot of successful people are giving out their views on the topic. Most of these people are either rich, famous or both.
Whom do I believe? Some examples are given below:
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~ Winston Churchill
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
May you live every day of your life.” ~ Jonathan Swift
In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” ~ Coco Chanel
You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” ~ Michael Jordan
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain
I have taken only a few samples here. On a plain reading, a person is bound to get confounded or confused. No one seems to clarify this topic. Everyone seems to talk around it, about it, but not give a conclusive answer.
Desires, goals, progression, achievement, failure, fulfilment, happiness, joy, etc. seem to be the most commonly used words in describing success.
If humanity is unable to provide a conclusive and simple answer to a basic question, then it is a cause of concern. The impacts of this ambiguity are being felt on a daily basis, all around us. There are a lot of young people today who do not wish to be successful simply because success to them means underlying struggles.
Someone with power describes it differently than the one who feels powerless. One with wealth but without health describes it differently from the one with health but without wealth. One with relationships values loneliness more than the ones who are lonely and without relationships. One with fame is seeking “me time” and the one with a lot of “me time” seeks attention. One with knowledge is seeking happiness and one who is happy is seeking stress. One with Life finds it cumbersome while the one who is dying is struggling to breathe. One with comforts seeks “real life as an adventure” while one who lives in rugged realities seeks comforts. One who has peace seeks conflict while a conflicted mind seeks peace. One who is anxious seeks calmness while one who is calm finds it boring. One who is in love finds it a bondage, while one who has many people but no love seeks love desperately. One who has children finds them annoying while one with no children envies those who have and goes to great lengths to have children. One who is successful feels unsuccessful while one who is unsuccessful idolises them.
With each passing phase of life, the description of success changes.
For a child, success may mean attention and love from parents, growing up to be an adult, scoring more than others, getting that toy or simply dreaming.
For a young adult, success may mean attention from someone who’s on their mind, being competitive, being better than the sibling, getting that college admission, getting accepted in that circle of friends, getting that car, or excitement they have looking for, making an impact by being different, generating more money, going for that adventure, that travel, doing that social work, etc.
For an adult and an older person, it will be different again and for someone who is on their deathbed, it will be different.
For someone whose business is crashing, going bankrupt, it will have a different description than the one who has a regular inflow of money that is more than they expected.
To chase this success, that is changing its name, shape, form, colour, material, path and idea, humans get tired. Their set formulas of earning success in its previous form no longer work in its new and changed form.
This situation has only forced most thought leaders to come up with yet more formulas to chase success. And then they called it “change management”. This is nothing but a farce being pulled on humanity by people who claim to be successful and wise while they remain as ignorant as the ones who chase success. This must stop.
One look at this image and suddenly success seems like a tough thing to achieve. Would I really want to chase success after looking at this description of success? Some of us hardcore ones… maybe yes… but some of us softer ones… maybe no.
Why should success be a struggle at all? We have become friendly with this idea of success and everyone passes on this wisdom that in order to be successful, one has to go through a lot of pain. Thus only the obsessed and foolhardy ones go through such a stupid process of success and unfortunately, they are the ones who later claim to know how to reach the pinnacles of success. Such successful people live their entire lives in pain and with struggles, so much so, that when the pain and struggles recede, they create new ones.
Those who are seeking success, look up to these struggling yet seemingly successful people and ape them. They consider themselves to be inferior.
Imagine a faraway place where the most commonly used metal is Gold. So much so, that the fabrics are woven from gold threads, people use gold utensils, houses are gold plated. Someone who values gold but does not have it reaches this faraway place wearing clothes made of cotton and leather. And being great at marketing convinces these people living with gold into believing that the real valuable thing is leather and the gold that they are using is a useless item. But…. being a fair person, he is willing to trade their gold with his precious leather. These people who do not value what they have, start valuing his stories of leather and start giving away their gold for leather.
Such is the human state today. People with greater influence and intellect are busy selling stress to people who do not value their abundant joy. But what these intelligent people do not understand is that you can not trade your stress and intellect with someone’s joy!
Out of this ignorance, we describe success in such terms and in mysterious ways simply because its simplicity evades us. When we do not have a clear cut answer to something then we jump around the idea of success. And jumping around causes lots of hardships.
It is critical for Humanity – and that includes businesses – to answer this question. Without it, we are perennially lost.
I will be sharing more in my next few blogs. If you, as a reader, choose to benefit and debate and initiate an exchange of ideas, if you choose to realise how critical this subject is, if you choose to remove all illusory ideas of Success and keep believing Success means different things for different people, then there is Hope. Else all maybe Lost.
Keep reading. In my next blog, I continue with this Idea and share “The Bigger Problem” that makes the definition of Success elusive!!!
Wishing Evolution for you
Shalini & Sameer Kamboj