Wednesday, March 16, 2005
What is success?
Don't we play around with this word so irresponsibly? Success in what? Isn't it so relative? Isn't it so personal? This word and its wrong usage by friends, teachers, parents and just about everybody has played havoc with people.. from children to elders... No one just notices it, that's all.
It all starts at home and school. This is the time. The exam season. CBSE, ICSE, state syllabus, class annual exams... from 12th standard down to.... nursery? The pressure is unbearable. A wanton murder of creative minds. A child with 90% is supposedly "more successful" than another with 60%. Maybe true, in a very narrow sense. Just in the context of that examination, which has nothing to do with the Test of Life.
And many parents and teachers make it out as if the 90% kid has conquered the world. That in turn sets off a series of complexes, not just among the small group of students who have undergone that particular test, but also among other children, who get a false concept of success.
The children's quiz programmes and other kids talent contests shown on TV do enormous damage in household after household. It's so different when kids come on stage. It's not like college students or adults. Haven't we seen parents tell their children: "Look at that kid on TV... You aren't half as good as him..." The damage, parents so silently and unintentionally inflict on their children in such a manner, is so enormous and its repercussions are long lasting. It is so far an undisputed scientific fact that the ability of adults to manage crises is a reflection of their formative years.
Not that you shouldn't care for your kids. Or, let them fail in exams. The point is: nurture what is divinely gifted to the child, rather than ignore it in a torturous pursuance of something that is just not in her. Don’t make her feel she is a failure, even before she has seen the true world.
Not just children. Teenagers, youth and full-grown adults: all are in a vicious pursuit of a misplaced sense of success. Designations. Money. Perks. Material possessions. Unfair comparisons with others. It's perfectly okay if people are happy in their pursuit of success. But mostly, they are not. A wild goose chase, in the mistaken belief than "pursuit of success" is the same as "pursuit of happiness".
A few years back, executives of a multi-level marketing company approached me and lectured me on how successful I could be if I joined them. Networking marketing. How I could be in the business of spreading happiness, without selling anything. How I myself and my family could be happy, how I could realise my dreams, how I could be free of all encumbrances (because money will keep flowing in, like royalty for a writer)...
I countered most of what they said. I must have been a difficult customer for them. They even sent a very senior guy (who is supposed to have made it big in Australia). He was at his persuassive best. I asked them how they could just presume... for example.. that I don't like serving my boss in my office... How could they presume I am unhappy and discontented. I asked them how could they define so authoritatively that making endless amounts of money is the only criterion of success in life...
But, finally, I joined them, not because I was convinced of what they told me. I told them I would join “to see how the stuff looks from inside, since you have spoken so much about its greatness” May be because of my prejudice, I was disgusted, and I quit within three months and got a refund of whatever I had paid...
But the dirty thing about it all is: they try to make you feel that ... if you don't take up their offer to join their marketing team, or quit later... you have a very pessimistic approach to life; you are not a go-getter, you are full of negative thoughts, basically you don’t want to be a success in life.
I have no complaints with Network Marketing and all the good they are doing. I hated their presumptions and persuassions. Be what you are, let others be what they are.
A year later, one of those guys came home, to see if I had a change of mind... Listening to my philosophy of life... he fled. But he promised to keep in touch. He hasn’t. He won’t, since I have a "negative influence” on him. Actually it’s quite positive for me, and him!
Success is how good you are as a human being,
how useful you are to other human beings,
how well you do those little things that make such a huge difference to people,
how well you can square up to a challenge,
how well you can take one step back and take two steps forward,
how well you can resolve a crisis,
how well you look at the long term and not the short term
how well you can smile even in the face of adversity,
how well you can bring a smile on the face of others too.
how happy you are... how peaceful you are with yourself.
Everything else is just a means to success, and not a success in itself.