Success- Is There a Formula?


Is there a success formula

If success is a label we all will like to have one pasted on our foreheads, don’t we?  Alas, very few have the glue to make the label stick. We hear experts say success leaves clue. They tell us to follow their leads to achieve our own success. This makes me to wonder can anyone become another Mahatma Gandhi by retracing the path he took in his life. Remember this- there is no India left to be freed from the British Empire! What I meant to emphasize here is the role of context. We can’t isolate the actions from the context they were acted under. So if there is no India to be freed, there is no need for or opportunity to be another Mahatma.

Let’s us hypothesize for a moment that same settings are available to us to do all those things that Gandhi did to achieve his goals. Would we be able to do and achieve all that he did? Unlikely. There are other factors like personality traits, skill sets, motivations, drive etc. that come into play. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the all these other factors also matched to a T, will the results be the same. Unlikely again. Variables like law of probability or chance have a huge bearing on the outcome of any actions. This is what we commonly call the luck factor.

The map is not the territory: every person’s map is unique

Does it in any way mean that we have to go and figure it out on our own? To a large extent, the answer is yes. It’s true that most of the things we want to do have been already been done by someone else. So there should be no reason to go and invent your own wheels. People who came before have left a vast body of knowledge in the form of institutions, writings, factories, products etc. There is hardly any area untouched and left as a virgin territory. In a way, that’s a bane as it limits the scope for original thinking or increases the threshold for generation of newer ideas.

We can use the knowledge base, follow the best practices, guidelines and mantras learned, devised and practiced by others whom we can call success in their chosen field. These give us a sense of familiarity and hope that what we are attempting to do is in the realm of possibility. So what is a typical success recipe? I am listing out nine broad principles:

  1. Find your purpose in life
  2. Decide what you want as early as possible
  3. Set measurable goals
  4. Break the goals into actionable steps
  5. Take swift actions
  6. Do not be scared of making mistakes
  7. Learn from failures
  8. Change things that are not working
  9. Enjoy the journey

Mark my words. These are only broad principles. All of them can be broken into series of sub-steps. Performing them in a systematic and coherent manner will increase your odds of achieving your goals and the resultant success. Nothing guaranteed. A lot will depend on your choice of career path.  It will also be dependent on how well equipped you are to do it. Trick is to aim at a goal that is worthwhile, start putting in efforts and find out if it’s working or otherwise.

Frankly speaking, very few are sure of what they want early in their lives. For most of us, it’s a discovery through trial and error. Pick up one. Put everything behind it. As I mentioned, you are not guaranteed success at first attempt. You are not entitled to be in the starting line-up for an Olympic relay race. However, no one can deny you the right to aspire for it, right to practice and show up for the selection trial. Result may not favor you many a time. Don’t get disheartened. Remember there are no failures in life, there are only results. Enjoy the journey. There is nothing as instructive as a failure if you are open to grasp the lessons. Keep on trying earnestly and hope somewhere, some day success will find you.

When you achieve your goals, you will add to the knowledge base your own formula and your contemporary and posterity will follow in your steps to find their own success. This has been the case and it always will be.