Saturday, August 25, 2018

Success

 
What exactly is success? Money? Fame? Career? Peace of mind?
 
When someone says 'oh you are so successful', what does it really mean? Can't success mean different things for every individual. What someone defines as our success can very well be reflecting their own aspiration and/or dream. For you it might not mean as much as it would to the spectator of your life. So when someone says 'you are successful' it is their perception of our life and its stages.
 
When someone has reached a high level position at work A might say that that someone is so successful but might think that that someone is compromising on his health, family and mental peace which B has the luxury for, so he perceives that he might not be at a high level position but he is more successful than that someone. I think you get the gist.
 
And when one asks themselves 'am I successful?', would the answer ever be a 'yes'? If we are truly on the quest to be our best, then would we ever label any stage of our life as 'success'?  I have come to believe that success is a mirage, an illusion which doesn't actually exist.
 
 Thoughts?

3 comments:

nitin ware said...

Well written thoughts on success, here are my two cents.
If you ask me, than success is something which changes as per aspirations. For a college dropout success is mere passing out the college, for a fresher getting a job is success, for businessmen meeting targets is success. Once an aspiration/success is within the grasp, then the person starts setting new goals/aspirations for success. So basically the quest of success is never ending. A person who has achieved every heights in his/her business may still think that the success is not complete, if he/she does not find a proper successor to carry forward the legacy and may fell unsuccessful considering the future uncertainty of the success which he/she has achieved. So I agree to what you mentioned at the end, that success is a mirage/illusion which doesn't actually exist.

Ajit Dixit said...

Interesting question!! Thanks for a very thought provoking topic.

In order for the word "success" to have any meaning, it has to have a context. That context is objective(s). The word "success" in isolation, without an associated objective is meaningless. Success is always at achievement of an objective or goal.

For example, if someone wishes to lose 20 lbs, and does indeed lose 20 lbs, then that person is "successful" at losing 20 lbs. Without the context of the objective of losing 20 lbs, we cannot say whether or not the person has been successful.

In societal settings, "success" is crudely associated with money and fame. This is because money can buy success on many objectives common to humanity, such as food, clothing, healthcare, transportation, etc. Fame can provide the ability on the outcome of events, towards achievement of similar objectives. Therefore, in a very facile way, persons who have money and fame tend to be described as "successful". However, this shallow view ignores all cases where the objectives of the person are quite different from common objectives like food, clothing, shelter, sensory enjoyments, etc. For example, some persons willfully lived virtually penniless (or on small survival stipends) despite having access to significant funds, such as Mother Teresa, J. Krishnamurti, Jane Goodall, Mandela, Ramana Maharishi, and several others. The objectives of such people were quite different from the commonly assumed objectives of "personal betterment". Their objectives were in the betterment of others, and in that they were very "successful" in achievement of their objectives. Obviously, using the same yardstick of money and fame for all is facile and erroneous.

In fact, as we all know, many of the rich and famous, are successful at some objectives and are dismal failures at other objectives. For instance, Elvis Presley had a terrible eating habit, which destroyed his health. He weighed a monstrous 350 lbs on his death at age 42! Was Elvis successful or unsuccessful? Obviously, he was wildly successful at his music career, and also wildly unsuccessful at maintaining his health (assuming health was also an objective for him). Howard Hughes became a recluse and starved, and at 6' 4" tall, weighed only 90 lbs at death.

Rajesh Khanna and Leander Paes were both very successful at their career objectives, but had numerous reports of domestic violence and abuse. Assuming that domestic harmony was also one of their objectives, they failed at that objective.

From the preceding, it should also be clear that "success" is related to achievement of "objectives". Further, everyone in life has a different unique starting point, and so comparisons in terms of "success"are odious. For example, a desperately poor orphan, who drops out of school and work as a manual laborer, just to feed, clothe and educate his siblings, is equally as "successful" as an heir who furthers his/her family business. Each of us has a different starting point and circumstance. While we may share some common objectives, many of our objectives are unique and different from those of others. Therefore, jealousy and envy in terms of other's "success", have to be tempered with an understanding of differing individual circumstance and objectives, and it is that it is inappropriate to measure all individuals by the same yardstick.

You are correct that the same yardstick cannot be used to measure everyone's success, but success does exist and is relative to achievement of individual objective(s). Thanks again for raising the topic, much appreciated; this topic should be part of fundamental education for everyone.

Ajit Dixit said...

Interesting question!! Thanks for a very thought provoking topic.

In order for the word "success" to have any meaning, it has to have a context. That context is the related “objective”. The word "success" in isolation, without an associated objective is meaningless. Success is always achievement of an objective or goal. The word success begs the question “Success at what?”

For example, if someone wishes to lose 20 lbs, and does indeed lose 20 lbs, then that person is "successful" at losing 20 lbs. Without the context of the objective of losing 20 lbs, we cannot say whether or not the person has been successful.

In societal settings, "success" is crudely associated with money, position and fame. This is because money, position and fame can buy success on many objectives common to humanity, such as food, clothing, healthcare, shelter, etc. Therefore, in a very facile way, persons who have money, position and fame tend to be labeled "successful" as an overall judgement. However, this shallow view ignores cases where the objectives of persons are quite different from common objectives of personal betterment. For example, some persons voluntarily lived penniless or on small survival stipends, despite having access to significant funds. Examples of such persons include Mother Teresa, J. Krishnamurti, Jane Goodall, Mandela, Ramana Maharishi, and others that we have never heard of. The objectives of such people were quite different from the commonly assumed objectives of personal betterment. Their objectives were the betterment of others, and they were very "successful" in achievement of their objectives. Obviously, using the yardstick of money, position and fame as a blanket measure of success for all is invalid.

As we all know, many of the rich and famous are successful at some objectives and are dismal failures at other objectives. For instance, Elvis Presley had a terrible eating habit, which destroyed his health. He weighed a monstrous 350 lbs on his death at age 42. Was Elvis successful or unsuccessful? Obviously, he was wildly successful at his music career, and also wildly unsuccessful at maintaining his health. assuming health was also an objective for him. Howard Hughes became a recluse and starved, and at 6' 4" tall, weighed only 90 lbs at death, a skeleton.

Rajesh Khanna and Charlie Sheen were both very successful at their career objectives, but had numerous reports of domestic violence and abuse against them. Assuming that domestic harmony was also one of their objectives, they failed at that objective.

From the preceding, it should also be clear that "success" is related to achievement of "objectives". Further, everyone in life has a different unique starting point, and so comparisons in terms of "success" are odious. For example, a desperately poor orphan, who drops out of school to work as a manual laborer, just to feed, clothe and educate his siblings, is as "successful" as a rich heir who furthers his/her family business. Each of us has a different starting point and circumstance. While we share some common objectives, many of our objectives are unique and vastly different from those of others. Common human emotions of envy and jealousy related to success must be tempered with an acknowledgment of the wide differences in starting points, circumstances and objectives.

You are correct that the same yardstick cannot be used to measure everyone's success, success is related to achievement of individual personal objective(s). A label of “successful” or “unsuccessful” without an associated context of specific objective is absurd. Thanks again for raising the topic, much appreciated; this topic should be part of fundamental education for everyone.