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Thought of the Day - 'Success - Easy to get, Difficult to retain...'

Thought of the Day - 'Success - Easy to get, Difficult to retain...'

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Reaching the zenith of success in any (I really mean 'any') aspect of life is quite a difficult task. It requires tremendous effort and commitment in the right direction at the right time. But there is an even more difficult task - retaining the success we achieve. My personal experience says that we must have indomitable will and perseverance to stay on top of success for long.

Fortune knocks on everyone's door at least once in life. It might as well give us success unexpectedly. We might become a star overnight. In those moments of pride and joy, we might think it's not at all a difficult task to be a successful person. But it's just not true. We will not know that difficulty unless experienced. I had that wonderful experience, fortunately early in my life.

Let me share a personal experience about the difficulty in succeeding. During my studies, I used to get marks between 140 and 145 (out of 150) in Mathematics. There was one girl in our college, who used to get 150 out of 150. I really got sick of hearing the same news again and again that she got 150. Whenever I heard that, I told myself that it's very easy to get 150 and it just needs some more work from me. Anyway I was happy with my marks and reluctant to do that extra work (at least I convinced myself repeatedly with the words of pride - 'I don't want to get 150, otherwise I can do it quite easily'). After few incidents, I was challenged by my mathematics lecturer to overtake that girl by getting 150 out of 150 in the final exam. I replied confidently (overconfidence?) that it's not at all a big deal and I would be able to do it quite easily.

I took that girl as inspiration and started the journey towards my goal. When I was striving for that, I came to know how difficult it is to be 100% perfect in any thing. I learnt that just a single & small mistake is enough to throw all your good work in vain. Getting 140 marks was quite easy. From there, for each mark, I had to struggle as much as I struggled to get 140. That literally meant I had to work 10 times more than I used to work...just for 10 more marks. I didn't leave any mathematics book available in the market. I repeatedly worked on each problem at least 3 or 4 times till I got perfection. I even found many short cuts in that process. I had no other thought in my mind except getting that 150 and proving myself. Of course, I didn't want to lose and so finally got it, after 6 months of sleepless effort. On the day of exam, I could finish the paper including choice by halftime. Then our room invigilator approached me (because he saw me sitting idle), verified my answer sheet completely and gave me a golden piece of advise along with appreciation. 'It's really very well done. I think you will surely get 150. But make sure you verify your paper 5 or 6 times. Remember that they don't mind awarding 149 marks to you. But when they have to give you 150, they will verify your paper twice to see whether you really deserve it. They will try to find out at least a small mistake & deduct 1 mark'. I followed his advice. The day I heard the results, the joy in my heart was unimaginable. It was the real taste of success. All this work also resulted in me scoring the highest in my town in mathematics (93/100) in the state level engineering entrance test held the next month...

I don't intend to say I achieved a great thing. Few other people also scored the same 150 marks in our college. Also it's not that I wouldn't have got 150 if I hadn't struggled for 6 months. But there was always a chance of losing that 1 mark, if I didn't refer something accurately. Who knows? I didn't want to take that chance and so put all my heart and soul towards my goal.

Amidst my joy, I felt very bad that the girl whom I took as my inspiration lost it in final exam and managed only 149 marks because of a single unexpected mistake. She wrote the answer 1/2 instead of 1/3 for a simple bit & all her work had gone in vain.

But that was a lesson of a lifetime I can never forget. I know that it's a very small achievement in life. But that small incident was the base for my thinking about success and successful people. That incident showed me the joy of success that comes through hard work. That increased my respect to all those who succeed constantly.

Don't mistake me. I don't intend to tell you that I had my name in the pool of successful people. As a matter of fact, I failed to continue the same dedication for long time. In my further studies, I managed to get only 98%, not 100% in Mathematics. Whatever may be the reasons, I failed to repeat what I thought was a success. That's why I know personally how difficult it is to retain a success. Even though I was the college topper, it didn't matter to me, as it was not my goal. My goal was to get 100% every time in Mathematics and I failed to do that. Others might have appreciated my top rank. But my personal satisfaction was not there. This is where I am trying to distinguish 'personal success' from 'success'.

Extending it further, there are two dimensions of success to be considered. One is achieving success in our perspective (for our self-satisfaction) and the other is achieving success in the perspective of others. I believe in the first one. We should succeed for our satisfaction. If someone appreciates your work, and if we know that it's not perfect (if we are not satisfied), it's not a real achievement. At the same time, if we get complete satisfaction with whatever we do, it's a good personal achievement, even if it's not appreciated much by others.
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Unfortunately this theory of 'personal success' doesn't hold too well in this competitive world. Here, people don't see what you attempted. They see only what you achieved. When you are successful in their view, people write good things about you, they praise you and put you on a pedestal. When you lose your success, they naturally criticize you. They don't care about your self-satisfaction or about the effort you have put. For other people, success is the ultimate measure of your performance. All that I can tell you is not to get depressed to face those situations and always be yourself no matter what obstacles you face. When you firmly believe in something that others don't believe, just remember Henry Ford's words - 'When every thing seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it...'

See to it that only your success matters for you. You should not be concerned about some other person's success. Whether 'you' win or lose is important for you. If you want, you can always take others' success as an inspiration.

Also we often tend to describe the success of others as 'luck'. But if we taste the same success, we feel it's all because of our hard work. That's one pity side of human mentality. We will never know the effort involved in some other person's success. Meet someone (whom you perceive as a successful person) personally and share his experiences. He will tell you how much he had to struggle for reaching the top position. He will tell you how much he is struggling to retain it. He will tell you how people criticized him when he was unsuccessful.

That's why I don't judge the success of a person by what he achieves. But I judge him by the time span for which he is able to retain his success. Winning consistently is important. It's not at all an easy thing to do. It's where our determination and perseverance matter.

Everyone wants to succeed and then retain it for long time. But when we decide upon a goal, we tend to be very enthusiastic and work very hard towards that. As time passes and obstacles greet us on our way, our enthusiasm fades away and we get satisfied with what we achieve, not with what we wanted to achieve. The real success lies in keeping your dedication for long time. Unless you are strongly willing to retain your success, you cannot do that. That needs a lot of mental power, indomitable will and balance. That's where 99% ordinary people are distinguished from 1% extraordinary. Unfortunately, we admire that 1%, but we don't try to be the same.

As rightly told by my favorite author Paulo Coelho, 'It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting'. So I dream to be in that 1%. What about you?

-- Author : Surendra

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