The Measure of Success

Success – the word rings like a gong in the ears and minds of even the most hardened skeptics. Often people are characterized by success. Sometimes it acts like a status marker while at other times it becomes the bane of our very existence. So, what is success anyway? And how does one measure it?

Today’s world broadly bases success on 2 parameters – monetary and social (achievements). Society stamps people with their approval of ‘arrival’ when they fulfill either one or both of these vital components of societal success.

I find this entire hullabaloo about success to be rather far-fetched, linear and grossly hyped. No, don’t think for even one moment that I don’t believe Ratan Tata or Siddhartha Mukherjee are not successful. Of course they are! What I find troublesome is that we don’t look at success in other areas.

Confused? No? Good (in which case you can stop reading right here). Yes? Well, I was pretty lost till I gave this some hard thought. Success thrives where you look for it. Where you stretch beyond your own capacity, fight with all your strength and emerge victorious.

You might ask, “If I decide to quit smoking and I manage it in say a month’s time, am I successful?” You damn well are! Ditto for the person who has managed to be fit, healthy and disease-free at 75 years of age or the person who made a New Year’s resolution to spend more time with his family and managed to do it. These are concrete, real-life examples of success in daily life.

Someone I know expounded ‘The Ladder Theory’ to me. The theory has 2 main pillars:

a) However much success you amass, never ever be happy with it otherwise you’ll never grow.

b) Hence one must keep climbing the ladder of success forever.

At a very basic impulse-driven level, the theory has truism but at a thought-driven level it makes for great gibberish. For starters, it doesn’t take into account the fact that every ladder leads to a new level and that beyond a certain level (the highest being the tip of the Burj Khalifa as I write this) there is empty space. So, sooner or later you’re so high up that you’ve left everything else in life way below (because not everything can make or wants to make that seemingly godlike ascent). Also, what kind of success related theory advises one to never be happy (because satisfaction is the greatest enemy of growth)? I can rattle off another 10 reasons why I find ‘The Ladder Theory’ to be simplistic but I’d rather stop here.

Success, like happiness is a state of mind. Different for different people. No more no less. Break free from the delusion that you have to prove yourself to anyone, except yourself. Sure, success won’t come easy and it has to be earned (just like a Bournville 😛 ) but that doesn’t mean that it’s beyond the reach of the common man – You and I.


2 thoughts on “The Measure of Success

  1. Very well-put.. Addiction to anything is the path to self-destruction, and obsession with success is no exception.. If only people realised that they’d be so much more content in life, thats what success is, after all..


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