Sunday, 29 June 2014

Success ─ What Does It Mean?

Before coming to the word Success, let us have a look on following sentence

‘People know me as Rama’ 

What do you infer from this sentence? Probably most people will think that name of the person is Rama but a few will also consider the person having the virtues of Lord Rama of Hindu mythology. A few who have the second opinion must have somehow related to Hindu mythologies. People belonging to other communities, such as Christians or Muslims, who do not know anything about Lord Rama will come with first opinion. Further, we all are familiar with experience of coming with new ideas or interpretations each time when reading the same text again & again.

From this it is clear that the words or sentences do not have any specific meaning. It is we, who give meanings to them according to our consciousness. The same is true with the word Success. Every individual may have different meaning to success. For most of us, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Dhirubhai Ambani, Thomas A. Edison, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King are the names of successful peoples. Some might think Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Gautam Buddha, Vivekananda are successful in real meaning. There is also not the scarcity of those for whom passing the exam, clearing the interview, getting a job, being doctor or engineer, marring a particular girl or boy mean success. 

I know a family which was teaching the meaning of success to a child as securing the top position in class terminal examinations. It was nothing to do with his overall percentage. There was much emphasis on top position rather than individual performance. In first terminal examination he got 95% but secured second position in the class. The parents were not happy with a significant percentage but advised him to top in the class. Boy was depressed, as he worked hard but no appreciation was given. But, he came out of depression and committed to himself that he would work hard and would pay more attention to studies. He fulfilled his commitment honestly and this time got 98% but got third position in the class. The parents reacted as if they were undressed in front of others. The father didn’t talk to the child for many days. The mother who was herself illiterate instead of having sympathy with the child cursed him very badly. As a consequence of these, the child changed his way of thinking and study. He paid more attention in remembering about top position than studying hard. He used to open his books and constantly thinking over securing top position in spite of reading the pages. As a result he got only 80% marks in subsequent examination but surprisingly got first position in the class. For that he was rewarded by having new bicycle, new video games and many more. No one was worrying for his very low percentage as compared to previous examinations. 

Looking from a different angle one may argue that the paper was tough so that overall percentage of the class is low, not only of his, and in previous examinations the paper was easy, so high overall percentage of class was observed. He was only not sincere. This may be true but if this is true then the credit of Being Successful doesn’t go to the child because the result was not the solely effort of the child, some other factors was also involved. It can also be stated as the failures of others. 

The average person puts only 25% of his energy & ability into his work. The world takes off his hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between the souls who devote 100%.
─ Andrew Carnegie

Success is one's achievement and if depends on others then it is worthless. Success must be related to one and his effort only. Percentage of success must be evaluated from the performance of an individual only excluding all the other factors. It should be a comparison between his maximum performance and his present performance. Success should be utilization of full potentiality of an individual.  There was a child who was writing examination and after finishing his writing, submitted the paper to the invigilator. While handing the paper to invigilator, he remembered that a comma was missing in the answer sheet which he mentioned to invigilator. He was assured that his paper was checked after putting the comma in the sheet. When paper was being checked, the examiner could not find the missing comma and the child was called to put it. He came and put the missing comma at appropriate place which was overlooked by the examiner. His paper was remarked by the statement ‘Examinee is better than examiner’. He was later became the first President of Republic India. His name was Dr. Rajendra Prasad. No one can analyze your performance or judge you correctly except YOU. 

Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.
    ─Charles Shultz

A cub was reared with puppies. It resembled itself as one among the puppies and learned all the skills of puppies and performed even better than actual puppies. Can it be called as Successful? No, it has the potentiality of becoming lion but due to ignorance leading a life of puppy. We too have enormous possibilities but being ignorant leading a menial life. 

Man isn’t the sum of what he is but the totality of what he might be.

In the Olympic of 1960, Muhammad Ali won the gold medal in heavy weight boxing championship. He was Negro of Louisville. After returning to home, he was offered huge & massive welcome. Parties were held in honor of him all over the America. He was overwhelmed by all this. His childhood dream was to win that medal and he worked hard for it. He loved his achievement & his gold medal very much. He never let it out of his sight. He even slept with it. One day he went along with his friend in a restaurant in Louisville but he was not served because of being a Negro despite he was a Olympic Champion who bought pride to his motherland. He was abused by calling nigger. Some whites tried to snatch his medal. He was very disappointed and lastly what he did, he threw his medal in the middle of Ohio River. His friend was not happy with that with many questions in mind. Muhammad explained his feelings as "How could I put the answer together? I wasn’t sure of all the reasons. The Olympic Medal had been the most precious that had ever come to me. I worshipped it. It was proof of my performance, status, a symbol of belonging, of being a part of the team, a country, a world. It was my way of redeeming myself with my teachers & schoolmates, of letting them know that although I had not won scholastic victories, there was something inside me capable of victory. How could I explain I wanted something that mean more than that? Something that was so proud of me as I would be of it. Something that would let me what I know I had to be, my own kind of Champion.”

Success should mean a feeling of satisfaction- a enjoyable satisfaction. Success is happiness. Success is freedom. Success is blissful living.

A happy person is not a person in certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.
     ─Hugh Dawns

According to science of biological evolution, monkeys are the immediate ancestors of humans and have many similarities. One thing I found fascinating is catching of monkeys. A box, filled with eatables, having a hole big enough for entering monkey’s hand while open, is enough to trap a so called intelligent animal. It enters its hand to grasp the eatables by making a fist. After that the hand doesn’t come out due to fist formation and it is easy to snatch the monkey. The hand may come out by loosening its fist, opening its palm but in order to do that it has to sacrifice the desire of having eatables. The monkey thinks that it is free and have right to get what it wants and now the thing of desire is in its hand. It was happy but its happiness dries out as it was caught and put into cage for life long as a showpiece for entertainment of others.

Flies are fond of honey. They like honey very much. They are searching honey everywhere and when encounters go there to have it. They feel very happy while sipping honey but when try to fly after satisfaction their sting & feet get stuck to it and finally die there. In the case of monkeys eatables are there in their hands while flies case is one step ahead they taste it. But, can we call them Successful?

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired but controlling the desire.

Set your goals according to your necessities not desires. A person is suffering from Diabetes and desires to have sugar. The family hides sugar from the range of his approach and offer karela (bitter melon) juice for the benefit of patient. He doesn’t like taste of karela and like to have sugar instead of it. He set a goal to search the hidden sugar and have some and he succeeded in that. Eating sugar is very harmful for the life of diabetic patient. He is hurting himself & inviting many serious health problems related to diabetes by eating sugars just for instant gratification. Can we call him Successful because he managed to get sugar in spite of all odds?

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.
─Earl Nightangle

There lived a saint who once was travelling through a dense forest full of deadly animals,  found himself being chased by a fierce tiger. He got frightened and started running haphazardly. While running, he looked back to enquire about the position of tiger, he noticed tiger was not eager rather enjoying chasing. He thought if tiger can enjoy at this moment, why not he? Flashing of this thought, in the mind of saint, changed his style of running. Now it became a game of hide & seek. Finally after travelling a large distance he found a tree and tried to climb over it but failed. He just managed to hang on a branch. Tiger also came there and sat beneath the tree waiting for him. He laughed at this situation. He had the courage to laugh at moments like this. He laughed more lauder this time when he saw two mice, one  black and another white, were biting the very branch upon which he was hanging. He was laughing because he understood the nature’s law of pleasure and fear. Now he could see the nature’s coded information- tiger as a symbol for death, white & black mice as days & nights which were continuously trying to bought him death. He had to choose between living with fear of death or try to get the best of moment. He found some strawberries beside his hands, plucked one, enjoyed eating it and got absorbed in the moment. He learned to taste the pleasure in the present moment.

Feel good because you choose to; feel sad because choose to, not because of events transpiring around you over which you have no control.
─David Simon

When Socrates was jailed and sentenced to death, he remained unperturbed on getting the news of capital punishment. He maintained his calmness of mind and said. “I have been preparing for death all my life. In fact I have never secretly or openly done a wrong to any man.” Saying so, Socrates smiled. This shows the courage arises from purity of the heart of a person who lives fearlessly and who dies cheerfully─ A Successful Legend in true meaning.

Fight with yourself. Why fight with external foes? He who conquers himself will acquire happiness.
─Lord Mahavira

When Alexander the Great was about to die, he told his ministers that his hands should be left hanging outside the coffin. When they complained that this was not the custom and wanted to understand the reason, he said, “I want people to see that in spite of all my conquests, I leave this world with empty hands.”

Why are we mad about desires and fulfilling them? For the sake of happiness and satisfaction associated with them only. Appearance of pleasure, surfaces with objective desire, is not pleasure in true sense. They are pseudo-pleasure as of monkeys and flies. They are like throne tucked in throat which cannot be either swallowed or ejected out of mouth easily. If objective desire remains unfulfilled, gives resentment, and if fulfilled, gives frustration because the feeling of pleasure is transitory and dies out. Satisfaction associated with objective desire exists as far as object exists but by getting the desire fulfilled, object dissolves so as feeling of satisfaction & pleasure associated with it. Our wandering mind is again stuck to another desire and we rush to fulfill it. If unfulfilled, gives resentment, and if fulfilled, gives frustration and this cycle goes on till our last breath until we change the place for searching pleasure. Pleasure is an individual’s feeling. It should not depend on others.

Success doesn’t mean the absence of failures; it means the attainment of ultimate objectives. It means winning the war not every battle.
─Edwin C. Bliss    

Ultimate mean the last, the extreme point after that nothing exists. And objective goals are encountered every day, one after another like battles. Nothing completes by accomplishing it. You have to start from beginning again. It is not the ultimate war- a deterministic war, by winning which, you will become King of kings and there is no more fights to face. Success means victory over that deterministic war- the last war after that you will established as undefeatable. There will be no further battles to establish yourself. It is the war against You by Yourself. In fact it isn’t direct fight against you; it is actually the fight against your army men who take salary from you but works for opponent. They are enemy in disguise. You only have to do is to replace these men with your loyalists. In short, you have to change your problem solving approach i.e. the way of thinking.

The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is of all things, the most shameful and vile.

Success is associated with the personality of an individual not with the object of desire or fulfillment of desire itself. A successful personality can only have taste of success in every scoop of worldly soup. It is the way of living life. Being successful means having such a personality that every effort will lead towards achievement of goal- a worthy goal. In other words, every effort is having taste of success.


  1. An interesting post, Ravish. Most people equate success with the accumulation of wealth or material goods, the achievement of educational or intellectual goals, etc. Yet, despite all those accomplishments, they leave the world empty-handed (just like Alexander the Great). I think success comes in the satisfaction and contentment of living the life you've got fully and joyfully on your own terms and making the most of what you've got to work with.

  2. "A successful personality can only have taste of success in every scoop of worldly soup." That's right. When you feel happy being alive, every action you perform brings happiness.

  3. Very good post Ravish, I do 100% believe on "the words or sentences do not have any specific meaning. It is we, who give meanings to them according to our consciousness" and the same applies to success as well, as you said it. Honestly for all of us success has a different meaning...

    1. Thanks Alok for pondering over each words seriously. I'm glad that you agree with my points on the meaning of success.

  4. Wonderfully expressed, Ravish.
    I remembered Rancho & his dialogue from 3 Idiots movie- "Success ke peeche mat bhaag, Excellence ke peeche bhaag; Success jhak marke ayegi!" :)