Success is a hard nut that many die in trying to crack, many while daydreaming about. Aspired by all, touched by a minuscule proportion of the population, success is a mystery-shrouded destination of all human lives. It needs no explanation why a suggestive formula to success has been a bestseller across seasons. Hence it’s a ‘natural selection’ that successful individuals are invited at various forums to share their experiences. Their hindsight is a hint given out to others on a treasure hunt. In addition, there is a class of intellectuals who earn fame by hosting cookery shows on recipe to success. They achieve success by writing about it. Some of these success coaches are astute; they tend to go too deep into the theories of the subject though they don’t have hands on experience on that. An angler’s wait, a gambler’s bet, success in some way or the other keeps us glued to it.
“I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll” – AC/DC
The balance sheet
The typical account of a success consists, albeit in varying degrees, of hard work, dedication, competency, planning, integrity, self-belief, never-give-up attitude, God’s grace, parents’ blessings, focus and a few others. These heavyweight attributes can hardly be questioned; even the most skeptical minds yield in awe. The equations water themselves down when we spot exceptions around us. The air of distrust on values deemed sacrosanct so far finally settle down as we define these conditions as necessary but not sufficient. On the other end of the spectrum, the grumbling losers are seldom asked what they think of the route to success. Given a chance they would enumerate divine intervention, stroke of luck, God’s bizarreness, unintentionally perfected timing, extra-terrestrial backing, undue favors, influential parents, desperate measures, unethical elimination of competitors and a few more as reasons why they were left out. Not every fruit in the basket is sweet in taste; some like grapes can get sour. We could completely write their theory off until we realize that citrus limes are rich in Vitamin C which is important for life, too.
“And that’s the bottom line ‘cause Stone Cold said so” [Steve Austin]
There are evidential elements of truth behind all the factors mentioned above, save that the absolute formula remains elusive. A walk down the convoluted alleys of success is bound to be filled with learning and conflicts, quotes and misattributions, great examples and greater confusions. A discourse on a subject, as intriguing and enigmatic as success can never be scaled by the degree of accuracy or conclusiveness.
Let me start off with some of my favorite ‘probably misattributed’ quotes:
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” – Charles Darwin *(probably misattributed)
“I am grateful to all those people who said no. It is because of them I did it myself.” – Wayne W Dyer *(misattributed to Albert Einstein)
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” –Aristotle *(probably misattributed)
To balance things out, I must give my picks, free for a change, on authentic quotes by legends:
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” – Mark Twain
It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail. – Mark Twain
“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
It’s now time to remember quotes from the personal-success literati:
“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” – Napoleon Hill
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost
“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” – Zig Ziglar
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn
Critics, Envious colleagues, warnings: Caution – the floor is wet!
Let me add my two cents on “the whims of success”. Anyone chasing success must be conversant with the quirks of probability theory. The larger chunk of players will end up being either beaten up or stepping stones to others. Fasten the seat belt tightly, if interested in this long flight as you may not “jingle all the way”. There is no game in the history of this planet that dared to call someone winner without calling someone else loser. You may also score at the dying moments of the match, so stick around hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Statistically speaking, success tends to pick early birds. Hence repeating a success by following footsteps may not work. You have to be yourself, sooner or later. Play your game. The journey to the top gets lonelier as you inch up. Oxygen tends to get thinner. Pack your bag only with essentials to avoid being bogged down. There is no harm to play a team game till the last base camp. A lone, last hike could be the key differentiator between a winner and a close second. Hairdo, dressing style, mannerisms are softer targets while imitating someone. It is safer to be inspired when the essence or the content of a successful journey is what lures you. Lifestyle can be bought post success as most successes bring about wealth as a byproduct. Following lifestyle statements early on may be unnecessarily taxing on the wallet. Once successful, you will anyway be treated as a role model. Success is pricey; a few successful minds give up under stress and show restlessness, often tilting towards self-destruction. Be careful in choosing a strong role model. The media have found a thousand avenues to expedite an ascent to fame which in most cases last for 15 minutes, but success is popularly defined as the longer haul sustenance of fame, money and satisfaction. You need to be there in one piece in order to be able to relish your success. It is extremely hard to find a success case where the person does not love his/her job. Be particular about the chosen dream as it should strictly be yours and not your cousin’s. Assess yourself well and own up your decision even when the going is not smooth or your detractors outnumber your promoters. Switching the game plan merely due to peer pressure may not be effective as long as you find value in your investment. Such a flip-flop resulting in a failure may earn you nothing more than an acrobat tag and burning of calories. Having said that, changing tracks and adapting to an adjusted goal or strategy is known as flexibility, if the end result is successful. Success is highly stateless in nature. The roads traversed, the stopovers chosen and the fables built around those, even at the cost of exaggeration, may be good to sell books, but not to be questioned. You are supposed to find your way to reach and spend some time there alone – that is our expectation from an achiever. If you were sober all the way, your discipline will be celebrated; if a bohemian, your talent took you there; if conventional, you planned your success; if inexplicable, you were gifted with eccentricity. If you were a topper in all your classes, you showed early promise; if you are a school drop-out, you thought out of the box. The choice to abide by or ignore skeptics lies with you. Lovers and haters keep changing sides as you move on. An accomplished individual finally gets his/her turn at a packed arena of wannabes to preach on the tricks of the trade.
“Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” [Sex Pistols]
When you start thinking that I’m digging my own grave using my brain-dead meaninglessness and lack of direction, here are my hard-earned pearls of tribal wisdom I gathered from different nooks of life. I haven’t been able to prove them, but they certainly qualify my test of heuristics. The results turn out to be too simple to believe!
A stock market cannot pick a winner who is not invested in the market. Do a job that delights you, with due respect. Try your best shot and wait without worrying too much about ageing. In the process of waiting, you either succeed or die. In the less likely event of hitting the defined jackpot, you do not need much to think about what next – “nothing succeeds like success”. Otherwise you had a decent life doing what you enjoyed doing. You may not have noticed, but you’re a success. It may not have come in a ‘public’ form, but you have made yourself a case study of ‘personal’ success. Listen to what the folk-poet has to say:
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan