Friday, February 11, 2011

Does success matter? (Part 2 of 2)

Many success stories have turned into tragedies. The way up and the way down are one and the same. How many times have we seen a promising sportsperson tasting success quite early in his or her career only to fade away from the limelight! How many times have we seen a business starting with a bang only to go bust a little later! Here are three tips that may help you avoid this tragedy:
No.1. Avoid complacency after tasting success. No two challenges are alike. Just because you succeeded once, it does not mean you will do it next time as well. Having a healthy respect for competitors usually has a reciprocal effect. Then the world will be a better place. It is said that when the sun rises in a jungle, every lion knows that it must run faster than the fastest deer to avoid going hungry. And every deer knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion to live another day. Each day has its own challenges. 
No.2. Avoid distractions after tasting success. Success comes with a price, apart from all the accompanying perks. Comparisons could follow. Flattery would flow. Money would pour. Each one of them could be a potential trap. Remember, in the journey of life, success is only a passing station. Stay focussed on the destination and enjoy the journey. You will miss the train if you get stuck in a passing station. 
No. 3.  Avoid pride after tasting success. Someone said, pride is the sin of comparison. Success is not when you do better than others but it is doing your best. You are a unique person. Look around there is no one like you. The same is the case with every person. Watch out for pride for it comes before the fall! Arrogance is not confidence. Success looks so adorable when it is clothed in humility. Hope you will like that outfit!

Success stays on the sands of time, only till the next wave (or, the next winner). 

Is there a better alternative to success? Yes, it is called significance.  People strive for success. I say, be significant and do something significant. Do you remember the Marathon winner at the 1968 summer Olympics held at Mexico City? No? Don’t worry, not many would, any way. But let me tell you about the man who finished last in that race. John Stephen Akhwari was a marathon runner from Tanzania. Half way through the race Akhwari fell, badly hurt his knee dislocating the joint. Most runners would  have given up. But after a few minutes John Akhwari picked himself up, strapped up his leg and kept running. A little more than an hour after the winner had finished, with just a few thousand spectators left in the stands, into the stadium he came. His leg was bloody and bandaged. But finally he hobbled across the finish and the crowd roared as if he had been the winner. He finished last among the 74 competitors. Later when he was asked why he kept running though he would never succeed and he had every reason to quit. This was his reply – “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race." That’s not success, but that’s significance – not just for himself but for the indomitable human spirit!
There are many differences between being successful and being significant. Here are some of those differences:
The successful Vs The significant
In-ward looking                        Out-ward looking
Self-obsessed                              Cause-obsessed
Temporary                               Permanent
Makes you competitive             Makes you complete
Relative term                            Absolute term
Significance, very often is accompanied by a by-product called success. It is a smart thing not to be so obsessed with a by-product and instead focus on the main thing. I wish you significance – in all you do.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Does success matter? (Part 1 of 2)

We live in a world that is obsessed with success at least in materials terms. The one who has the most toys is considered a winner. Friends flock and enemies envy those who make it to the top – be it in cash, kind or position. It is said that nothing succeeds like success. And winning is everything. Is it true? Does success really matter? If yes, how much? Is there more to life than marks, ranks, trophies and money? 
Here is a 2-part blog post. In this part, I've talked about the stress and strain of success. Then on how to react to success. Because honestly, many do not know how to handle success. In the second part, I will talk about how many success stories turn into tragedies. In conclusion, we will talk about an alternative to success. Be assured it is not failure. There is more to life than to be just successful. In fact, Jesus Christ said, “What if the man gains the whole world and still loses his soul? What can he give in return for his soul?”. There is more to life.
Any winner can tell you that success is a lot of hard work. It demands physical and mental energy. As a result, an obsession with success can drain off all your energy. In the journey of life, success is a passing station. Those who enjoy the journey – be it at school, college or marketplace, have more time. Those who are obsessed with a brief stop-over at the passing station of success, seem to have less time. A key issue is: success at what cost?
I recall watching on TV a 100m running race at the Olympics several years ago. At the end somebody (Ben Johnson?) was crowned as the fastest man on planet earth. A few days later, he was stripped of his gold medal after being diagnosed with using performance-enhancing drugs. Success turned into shame! What was worse was his untimely death as a result of side-effects. Today, everybody wants success. The first question to ask is: AT WHAT COST? Not at the cost of personal integrity. Not at the cost of family and relationships. Not at the cost of future. Therefore go for success which is worth your blood, sweat and tears. Don’t settle for empty cups, bigger numbers and fleeting fame.
The problem with success is that it changes hands and no one holds it forever. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Football World Cup or Wimbledon hall of fame.
The obsession to succeed puts tremendous pressure on a person to prove himself or herself. This pressure results in mental stress and physical strain. An interesting problem with success is that the more you succeed, the more you will want to succeed. There is no end to obsession with success. If you thought success will relieve all the pressure, stress and strain, you got it wrong. It only puts additional pressure – the pressure to prove yourself, the pressure to show that you’re not a one-time wonder, the pressure to live up and the pressure to defend your position. So before you want to succeed, count the cost! May be, you should even consider how you will react to success.

Once there was a dog race. The challenge for the participating dogs was to catch the speeding, electronic rabbits in their respective lanes. Obviously the electronic rabbits were programmed to be faster than the chasing dogs. But then one day, when the race was on, an electronic rabbit broke down on the lane. The chasing dog caught up with it. Having done the incredible, that is catching the electronic rabbit, it now did not know what to do. It was just jumping around the broken-down rabbit. Well, how will you react to success in your life? Some get puffed up with pride. Others look down on others. Some others set higher goals and start the rat race again. A few will be like a turtle on top of a concrete pillar and saying, ‘I’m sure I didn’t get here by myself’ and they will be thanking God and people who mattered in the journey. Let not success get into your head or failure into your hearts. Success has spoilt many and don’t you add to that list. Success is a good time to feel good about yourself and a great time to show gratitude to others.

... to be continued