Achieving Success

Posted on in On Our Radar by Kapil Gupta

The Most Honest, Pure,
and Painful Truth


The idea of hard work leading to success has been a universal and sacred tenet for centuries. But is it true? Does hard work truly lead to success? Is every hard-working person that you know a success? Or is their life full of disappointments and anguish?

The advice is a reactionary response to laziness. Those who lack drive and motivation are told that they need to work hard in order to become a success. However, the idea of hard work has led to just as much frustration as has the failure to reach one’s goals. And there are good reasons for this.

Since childhood, whatever activity we have been involved in, we have been told to do it hard. Work hard, play hard, study hard, strive hard, practice hard. But it is often the case that success arises organically, rather than by force. It comes as a side effect, a byproduct. It comes because the circumstances are fertile for its emergence. It comes when the time is right. It is not necessarily won by grabbing it by the throat. Often, however, we see human beings fall into the trap of striking a brick wall again and again. We see them using muscle rather than sensitivity. We see them act through brawn rather than gentleness. Aiming for success directly rarely results in success, at least not in the form in which it is envisioned.

So if hard work is not the secret of success, what is?

Let us begin with a particular discipline, a craft, a hobby, whatever you would like to call it—something that you love to do. Not for purposes of success or fame or wealth or achievement but simply something that you love. Give yourself completely to it. Learn everything about it. Immerse yourself in it. Forget entirely whether you will fail or succeed, whether you will “make it” or not, whether you will become known or not. Simply do it for its own sake—for the feeling that comes from complete engagement, without fear of failure or hope of reward.

If you can do something with so much engagement and with so much care that it consumes your entire being, there will be a future in it. When you love something so deeply that you could care less whether it leads to success or failure, you are on the right path. Success will not only arise, but she will chase after you like an unrequited lover. Not because you want her to, but because she simply has no choice.

Ultimately, if you have not achieved success, it is because not achieving it was to some degree okay with you. And because it was relatively okay with you to remain where you are, you did. Do not for a second think that I am saying that you shouldn’t feel okay about being where you are. I have no intentions to steer you a certain way, or to motivate you, or to get you on the path to success. I am saying that the reason you are where you are is because you are okay with it. How do I know? Because if you weren’t okay with it you wouldn’t be there!

The irony is if you ask for tips on how to become a success, you will be a failure. The person who asks how to be a success doesn’t really want to succeed—and he knows it. He is simply making conversation. Talking about success gives him the cheap satisfaction of pretending that he is on the road to success. But, of course, he is not.

Stop asking what to do! No one can help you become a success. And anyone who agrees to give you tips is only stroking his own ego by feeling that he is an expert who is being helpful. Let’s dispel some myths:

  • » Success is not about getting off the chair and doing something.
  • » Success is not about taking action.
  • » Success is not about jotting down positives and negatives in a two-column comparison.
  • » Success is not about positive thinking and aphorisms.
  • » Success is not about following anything that you’ve been told to do.

Success is a natural byproduct of hunger. And if that hunger has to be manufactured, it’s not hunger. When you are hungry you will do all the things you were told to do—and not because you were told to do them. They will come from your bones and not from other people’s lips. Your not having achieved success has nothing to do with your not having done things right. Or because you didn’t follow the right plan. Or because you didn’t have the correct advice. Or because the timing wasn’t right.

When you absolutely despise where you are. When it’s suffocating you. When it simply is no longer acceptable to you, you will act. Not because someone told you to, but because you will be moved to. Success will happen, not so much because following your dream will be so enticing, but because the alternative is simply not an option.

The source of your greatest momentum will not be the happiness that pulls you, but the pain that pushes you. And you will feel the exhilaration of success in your chest, not when you reach the end of your journey, but from the very moment you embark on it.

Kapil Gupta, MD, works with individuals who are passionate about learning to transcend their mind in order to create a masterpiece of their craft and a bliss of their life.

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