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Success, failure, happiness are often misunderstood. It’s never too late to discover one’s true talent. Age is just a number. Shernaz analyses these concepts, in her weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
If you can’t be the highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by the size you win or fail —
Be the BEST of whatever you are!
~ Douglas Malloch
Failure is a bitter pill to swallow, particularly when one has temporarily savoured the syrupy brew of small successes. What is a failure and what is a success? Truman Capote believes that failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour. Which translates as — failure is something we must not shy from. It is not fatal. What could prove lethal is its fear. According to Mark Twain, the surest recipe for success is ignorance combined with confidence. Here I interpret ‘ignorance’ as no knowledge of fear… the fear of failure. Because that fear is what stops us from even trying; then how can one hope to win? Failure is a very necessary component of success. Nobody attains victory without facing letdowns in life. He who dares to face his fear has the ineffable reward of winning at a higher level.
Success is ninety per cent perspiration and ten percent luck. Until the sweat glands are squeezed out we cannot achieve what we want. Luck plays a small role if we are prepared when an opportunity comes knocking. When the confluence of grit, guts, and perseverance meets determination we can give our best to the task at hand. And that is success — giving one’s best to whatever is undertaken.
Palatial bungalows, flashy cars, yachts, private swimming pools, jets and overflowing bank balances do not define success. That is a financial success and may not readily translate into happiness. There are other parameters of success – social, marital, spiritual, relationships, etc. This is not to minimise the role of these in one’s life, but true achievement consists in discovering the purpose of existence on this earth and working towards its fulfillment. Knowing one has constantly striven to give the finest of oneself leads to a sense of contentment. As Mahatma Gandhi said “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is a full victory.”
Passing the buck is not in the winners’ domain. They take full responsibility for whatever prevents them from reaching where they are headed. If they have failed in nine ways they look for the tenth way to get something done, not for someone to blame. I am not saying one must beat oneself up to the extent of becoming discouraged. No. Discouragement is the deadliest tool our inner devil uses against us. We must delve into our failures, look through the cracks in them and pull out the lesson hidden in those chinks; then let them go and start afresh. Pitting yourself against yourself, bettering your past performance is the true measure of success. It cannot be compared with others’ because there will always be someone who seems to be flourishing better and another who is less so. Evaluating one’s success against another’s is a definite blueprint for failure.
“The Winner” is a tiny poem I had written long back. It fits easily into this write-up so am sharing it here
a singular end
Nor right nor left
straight to the goal
Did he hear the
We know of such ‘winners’ with a paucity of regard for others and a scarcity of scruples. Such persons are failures no matter what heights they scale. True success means outwitting, outclassing one’s own past little triumphs and trophies. It means comparing what you have done to what you could have or should have. And lifting others up with you as you journey towards your own goals, because it is not about rivalry. That is the quality of not only an unbeaten person but a great and noble one.
So let us focus on the positive and make stepping stones of failures (not people) before they become the stumbling blocks of life. Failure and the correct approach to it enhances the chance of success. Instead of turning the spotlight only on probable risks we should be centred on the task we have undertaken and get it done. We have the choice and the means to achieve all we want, to do everything possible, to accomplish all that we have dreamed of. The Bhagavad Gita says that wrong thinking is the only problem in life. Similarly, the fearful thought of failure is the biggest hindrance on our path to victory.
I can never adequately emphasise the importance of an attitude of gratitude. Research supports the idea that experiencing deep thankfulness has a positive psychological impact, and consequently, it increases one’s ability to create the life one wants. Success is all about realising our potential to inch forward towards our objective. We learn from our disappointments and attract more of the positive by being thankful for it. Geoffrey James elucidates it thus:”People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.” He further recommends that we should think of gratitude as ‘an emotional muscle’ that will like any muscle develop and gain strength if used intentionally.
Personally, I have held the belief that the truly successful ones are not those who get A++ academically; who glide up the escalator of businesses and professions on what someone has already built. To me, the unbeaten ones are those who have faced every obstacle, climbed every hurdle and overcome every challenge that life has flung at them. The ones who were plonked to the bottom of the abyss and pulled themselves up because they would not let life or anyone else keep them in the dark hole of defeat. They know how to handle the lows and stay afloat by sheer dint of courage and resolve. They are those unknown faces, those downtrodden ones who rise every day, brace themselves for a new tussle each morning and reach just that bit higher by the end of the day. They belong to every stratum of society, every class, and gender.
Chandro Tomar is an old woman from Johri, U.P., who found out at the age of 65 that she was a sharp shooter! Going against ridicule and the opposition from family and villagers, she trained, participated in competitions and went on to win 150 to 200 medals in this sport. Today, at 84, this ‘Grandma Big Shot’, ‘Rifle Grandma’ and ‘Rifle Dadi’ as she is variously called trains the young girls of her village so that they can at least defend themselves even if they don’t win medals. Now, this is a huge success story! At 65, she accidentally discovered her talent and now follows her purpose in life. An indomitable spirit!
To sum up this column, here is a quote from John Wooden, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
Photos from the internet.
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