Naghma Siddiqi | The Speaking Tree | March 27, 2017
I once had occasion to interact with a group of Delhi University students, who were about to graduate, on the formula for achieving success. The ensuing discussion yielded differing views of success. Some said success meant achieving ‘more and more’. Others said success meant achieving one’s desired goals. Still others said success meant helping others.
Earl Nightingale, an American motivational speaker, known as the "Dean of Personal Development" defined success as ‘the progressive realisation of a worthy goal’. I shared my three-point formula for success with the students: first, having a realistic attitude; second, having self-confidence and third, patient striving. I explained that first we should have the conviction that our goals are worthwhile; then we should have the confidence that we have the capability to strive towards them and then we should discipline ourselves to patiently strive towards them.
The first requisite of success is a realistic attitude. Realism means accepting the situation as it is rather than how we want it to be, another name for which is idealism.
The greatest objection to maintaining an idealistic attitude is that it causes us to want to find the opportunities that we desire, while ignoring those which are available. The result of this is that we strive towards unrealistic goals and that leads to confrontational striving and ultimate failure. Here, contentment is the key. We should be content with available opportunities, as the desired opportunities are mostly unrealistic. Then we can redefine our goals and strive towards them based on our capabilities. Then,attaining success is only a matter of time.
The second necessity for success is self-confidence. It keeps our morale high and motivates us to strive towards realistic goals. But we should remember to maintain balance in our self-confidence. This is because under-confidence does not give us a strong enough motivation and over-confidence has the potential to completely destroy us by presenting an unrealistic view that makes us strive towards unrealistic goals and activities beyond our capacity.
Striking a balance is the key. Realism helps us to understand what is possible and what is impossible in each situation, so that we are clear about our goals. Then we are able to direct our confidence and resolve in the right direction in order to plan our activities and strive towards them with sureness.
The third ingredient necessary for success is patient striving. It is a fact of life that worthy goals are generally realized only after facing difficult situations. As such, it is only through patient striving that we can achieve success. Patience means to strive while exercising restraint in difficult situations. While striving towards our goals, we can either try to confront difficult situations or exercise restraint. The former seldom leads to positive ends, and often leads to violence. The latter helps us to keep our actions in the peaceful sphere, ensuring positive results. Patience, furthermore, helps us to keep a cool mind even in times of crisis, so that we may plan our activities and develop the level of discipline that is essential for success.
The result of following this wisdom is that one is able to redefine one’s goals based on realities, have the self-confidence to strive towards them through patient striving by keeping a cool mind and disciplining oneself to strive positively. Then success is bound to follow. (The author is member of Centre for Peace and Spirituality and has completed a doctorate in Islam and peace).