Who doesn’t want success in life? I am sure everyone are affirmative regarding success. Because failure is bad, it hurts, makes us feel sad and depressed. While success on the other side, makes us happy, popular and even powerful. The society praises the successful people. But, success brings with it its own set of tragedies, and we have to pay a price for that.
Let me tell you my school days story. I used to be a topper in my school. I was a A student or grade wise, a straight 4.0 guy. My primary focus in my school days was just study, get good grades, become a topper and again study more. Its almost like I was stuck in a infinite loop where more study made me topper in my class, but then I used to become afraid that I might lose out, and so I used to study even more for the next grade. So, basically, I was stuck, quite badly stuck!
Now, when I look back to my 14 or 15 year old me, I simply cannot stop laughing. Because I really don’t understand what made me so obsessed for topper rank or in other words, fascinated for success. I had tasted my fair share of success, but somehow that taste soon became insatiable. I wanted more and more, and however, more I got, I was not happy. Still the fear to lose out the top rank or even lose the praise from the society or family made me do that.
But now I realise that becoming successful is actually dangerous in life. Because the price to pay for success is much more than the fruits gained out of success! Why do I say so?
Let me elucidate by what I mean by tragedy of success. As I said, I got success quite early in my life. But assuming that was the biggest mistake I ever made. Because I did not learn the joy of hard working. Even though I was hard working, but my attention was always fixated on the outcome, and not on the process of doing. Hence, whenever I achieved the end result, I just moved on to the next goal, without even thinking how much efforts I had really made. Its almost like I had become some sort of machine.
So, when I say I did not know the joy of hard working is because the ones who fail in that age, know how much efforts it takes to become successful. They know how much work is needed to climb the ladder. Those who fail early in life become appreciative about their own efforts. Those who fail and succeed, not only understand what they have gained, but also the means by which they have reached the zenith. And that’s the best part of failing and succeeding. Because at the end, its not the goal that gives the joy, but the journey that takes us towards it. Its like a roller coaster ride, where the ups and downs are what we enjoy, and not the end of the ride, right!
This is the first tragedy of success which makes us forget that it is not the end, but the means that really matters!
I missed that train in that tender age. Because I not only feared failing, but also feared to change the path. Because once I knew the mantra to success, I just kept blindly following it. By that I mean I just started emulating the same way of studying or working to get the final goal. And it worked, because my path gave me the top rank. And that’s why I said before, I had become some sort of machine, because only machines never change their way of working. It’s as if I was programmed in some sort and I religiously executed the code!
But in that process I failed. Why? Because I missed the important lesson of not trying to change the course. When we stick to some way of work or living, we get stuck. We then don’t innovate or try something different. We then don’t learn new things and miss experiencing new adventures in life. And when we don’t learn or experience, that means our life is stuck. Its like a pond where water gets stagnant and eventually dries up, without no fresh inflow of water. While the river on the other side, flows and is dynamic.
This is the second tragedy of success, where consistent success makes us stick to the same path, thereby turning our river like life into a pond, which someday gets stagnated and eventually dries up( and making us bored of success as well)
Finally, the third tragedy of success is quite known which is nothing but complacency. As the legendary CEO of Intel Andy Grove quoted, “Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure…” When we get too much repeated success, then we gradually become complacent. This is the law of nature. Because if this would not have been true then the mighty empires like Roman, Ottoman, British would never have fallen down. Even the toppers, the richest, the most famous would have always maintained their status quo. But they all went down, eventually. Because they got complacent at some point in life.
So, the third tragedy of success tells us that even success is not eternal. Yet we strive for it, because we forget that it is not going to be with us forever. Of course this does not mean, that we should not aim for success. No. But knowing the wisdom that if we cling on to just success, then either we become complacent, or we become paranoid to maintain it, which is nothing but the first tragedy of success, where we become like machines to guard our precious success. But doing so, just makes us lose the joy of achieving it. Then what’s the point of getting that success when we can’t even enjoy what we have achieved, right?
Thus, I end this post, with the simple message I learnt from my personal experience of being an early success in life. And that is, to never go after success. Rather to focus on the path of excellence, which inevitably leads us to the pinnacle of success, someday. And the magic is we don’t even know when we have climbed the Everest because we were busy enjoying the ascent of Everest!
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