What is success? Everyone has a different interpretation of success. For some it's a state of mind, for some it's material gains; for some it's the attainment of a certain position and for some it's public recognition at large. In my view success is always relative, it's never complete. It's not a full stop, it's just a comma. It's not the end but a turn in the journey of life. It's never satisfaction. It's always craving for better and beyond. I have not come across anyone who is happy with his/her success, be it a top politician or a top celebrity or a successful sportsperson. I found all of them competing not with themselves but with others. And in the pursuit to attain the success of others one fails to enjoy one's own success.
Let me cite my own example. I started my career as a trainee reporter with a salary of Rs. 1500 per month. Many of friends, school and college mates became doctors and some joined the bureaucracy in the administrative and police services and and other high ranking allied services. I opted for journalism To begin with I was very proud but there were times when I would feel jealous and used to curse myself for having opted for journalism; don’t get me wrong- I loved writing and still I do. In those days I savored the idea and the freedom that I could criticize the mightiest and most powerful men and women without being scared. But on a few occasion I did yearn for special privileges and wished I could enjoy extra perks like some of my friends. Later I would feel bad about my envy. It is these thoughts that taught me that no one is happy doing what he or she is doing and the best is to have a dream and strive to achieve it. After two decades when I heard Sachin Tendulkar after winning world cup cricket that one should have a dream and one should chase it, I felt like I was walking down memory lane.
Sachin is the greatest of cricketer there is but if one were to ask him if he is satisfied with his success you will probably get an answer in the negative. He is known as the God of cricket but he knew he was not perfect. He was the best batsman but he was not the very best in the second innings especially when India was chasing. He was charged with not being able to play well under pressure. V. V. S. Laxman was considered a much better player in pressure cooker situation. Sachin also did not enjoy acclaim as a captain. He was given the opportunity to lead the national team at a very young age but he was never inspirational like Sourav Ganguly . His was a disappointing tenure as a skipper. There came a time in his career when he had to choose between concentrating on his batting and leading the team. It was his inner calling that he preferred batting to captainship but he always craved to succeed as captain.
His was an exceptional talent but he realized at a very young age that to succeed one has to sacrifice many good things in life. He found a purpose in his life. He was to become the greatest amongst the greatest. This was never easy. Sachin was the greatest not because he was a greatest talent as a batsman but because he very carefully analysed his advantages and disadvantages. The minute he recognized the fact that he was not good as a captain and captaincy might obstruct his endeavor to be the best, he chose batting and didn't hanker for captaincy. It was a smart move. His friend Vinod Kambli was as a great a talent as Sachin but he did not plan his career. He did not self introspect and did not explore his potential. Despite having talent he could not scale the heights which his dear friend Sachin attained later in life and which he richly deserved.
Those who saw Gundappa Vishwanath batting in the 1980s swear by his artistry but his friend and relative Sunil Gavaskar was more successful than him. The reason was simple. Gavaskar had a purpose in his life. He was more organized. His focus was clear. I wish Vishwanath had been more circumspect and more discrete.
Whenever I meet youngsters they always ask what needs to be done to be successful. I always tell them find a purpose in life. Recognize yourself and then accordingly you’re your career. Never be guided by what others do. You are your best judge; never deceive yourself- be honest to yourself. If one is best suited for batting, why should one insist on bowling? I have seen many a great talent going astray because they could not plan; they could not recognize their own talent. They did not compete with themselves but with others. I had a dear friend. He was probably more talented than me in journalism.
Today he is nowhere. He does not know what to do with himself. He was the first one among friends who got the opportunities but he could not capitalize on that. He was not ready to admit his mistakes, he was not ready to admit that there were some things that others could do better. He tried to ape others and there came a time in his life when he could not copy others and lost his own originality too. Sadly, he ended up as tragic-comedy. And the most painful aspect is that he still did not blame himself for his failure; he invented a few conspiracies and excuses for his failures and others’ successes. He deceived himself. He was not honest to his own self. Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballet dancer of early 20th century, was so right when she said
As is the case in all branches of art, success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by dint of hard work.
In the end, may I ask again what success is? Is it hard work or is it individual initiative? Or is it exceptional talent? I, having left a lucrative job at the peak of my career, can say with certitude, that success is nothing else but a sense of fulfillment. It's a mirage which we all chase, but never to achieve because we all compete not with ourselves but with others. To be truly successful let's find our own selves and compete with our inner soul.