Defining ‘success’

Success is a magic word. It is a word that inspires, motivates everyone into action. But then, what is success? Can success be defined? It is very abstract and generic level but takes on specific meaning in a context. Success is different for different people. It differs depending on the context. Then, does it make sense to define and discuss on a generic note? I think, Yes and I am discussing it here at a very generic level.

My intention is to bring out certain subtle points which often get overlooked. These points related to how everyone of us look at success. There are certain patterns, irrespective of context, and it helps to understand these patterns.

Success has two dimensions. One external and another internal.

Success from external perspective: External World around defines your success, and that of everyone else. This is often done in comparative than absolute terms. In this perspective, success is defined and measured in terms of certain key parameters. These key parameters are wealth, power, influence, and knowledge.

Wealth is usually considered as amount of money and other assets. These helps to acquire other necessities and luxuries of life.

Power indicates your potential on effecting changes in your own life and that of others. These changes may be positive or negative. That is, it may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self and others, as the case may be

Influence, on the other hand, is how others can effect changes in your life. These changes also may be positive or negative, and may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self as well as others.

Knowledge holds potential to generate wealth, power and influence. Other parameters are also inter-dependent but not to the level that of knowledge. Again, potential varies depending on the nature of knowledge itself. That is, certain knowledge helps better than others.

Success from internal perspective: Haven’t you seen people hailed as successful yet burning within? More often that not, it is the result of a rat race. Point to ponder is, how dear and important is the goal for you. It is a very personal question. It can be answered only the individual concerned, and it must be. True success, can be (and, must be) defined only from that perspective.

Traditionally, Purushardhas are used to measure success, from internal perspective. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha constitute Purushardhas.

Dharma is from philosophical, social and spiritual standpoint. It stands for righteousness and value based living. It is founded on love and compassion towards others. It is, sometimes, said that world has become too competitive to afford such a living. But my personal experience is that nothing can equal joy coming out of value based living. One does not have to forgo everything else for it. The key is to strike a balance.

Artha is from materialistic and financial perspective. It stands for wealth and related assets. Many philosophical and spiritual discussion slight importance of wealth. Yet the fact remains that it plays a major role in daily life. You need money to acquire knowledge as well as to help others. One needs to work for acquiring and retaining wealth. Yet, it is equally important to realise that money is not everything. That is, money, in itself, cannot buy everything in the world.

Kama is a word used synonymous to lust, especially, in sexual context. But, here, it has a larger meaning. It pertains to all from sensory desires. I have seen many philosophical and spiritual discussions deriding Kama. But its role in life of a common man mandates every serious discussion to accept its influence . It is often these desires that helps one to set goals and work towards it. The real problem is not desire itself but rather too much of attachment to it.

Moksha is a state beyond all these. It is spiritual bliss when one rises above all these.

While these are discussed here at a generic note, it would be meaning only if individuals relate it to their life, analyze and define their success, realign their goals and work towards them. These changes from individual to individual, context to context. That is, the same person may drastically change the relative importance of these over a period of time; say, in a span of ten years


3 Responses to “Defining ‘success’”

  1. Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda Says:

    We understand that to be successful is to arrive,to get somewhere and so we all desire success. The pursuit of success is the desire for the more. Success is a relative term;there is nothing absolute about it.It would be in our best interest to consider success in this perview.

  2. Shesharam Says:

    While many would like to be “successful”, a few may just like to be happy under any circumstance!

    • Vinod Varma Says:

      My observation is that everyone do crave for happiness. Every effort, every relation is directed towards this. Even success is for happiness. Problem is, people search for it outside while true happiness is within. World outside is transient, and what is within is absolute tranquil

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