Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Measure of Success

How do you measure Success?

Do you look at people who are considered successful and see how you measure up against them?
Or do you set your own standard and see how you measure up against yourself?
Or do you let someone else decide for you? Let some stranger tell you if you are successful. Or will be successful. Ever.

"Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something."

"You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can't do it. You want something? Go get it. Period." ~ The Pursuit of Happyness


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Blogger jhantu said...

while the second one seems to be the most logical, but it usually is 1/3, unfortunately

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....random thought? Or a lesson learned?
My experience has been that...people believe in you if you belive in yourself...and sometimes even when you don't!

12:10 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

great question.

one, many of us are cv-worshippers, right? we count off "accomplishments" and compare. that's one way, for sure.

but there's another, foolproof way of knowing when one has been successful. it's being alive to the feeling of emptiness that you get after a goal has been reached and the celebration digested. that next morning, that feeling of "what do i do now", is an excellent indicator of success. it's when you know you achieved something you wanted to.

i'm not sure how to measure it though.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be in a good place in life to even think about these questions.

Or fortunately you have never been in such a place... if you have been there, you would know that it does not matter anymore.

"You want something? Go get it. Period."

...Yeah, right!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the question is necessarily that of measuring success, but more of defining success. And I guess that is a very personal definition and therefore extremely open to variance. Just to share my thoughts, success to me is having the freedom to choose - if I can choose whether to spend a lot of money on a foreign trip or not, I'm successful financially. If I'm able to choose who I can unburden my fears to and look for advice, I'm successful socially. If I can choose whether to have a baby now or not, I'm successful emotionally, socially and financially. Rare are the moments of personal success - if success became a habit, I guess then the question would move from the binary (yes/no), to the question of "how" successful. Even then, you will notice, it remains binary - more successful than, or less successful than? Like all things open to a person-to-person variance and not having a fixed scale of measurement, we need a benchmark to measure success against - its not necessarily a "bad" thing to do - its just the necessity of achieving common ground in thought for that measure to make sense. Otherwise, if I said I am successful 7 units, that doesn't make much 'common' sense, does it?

5:22 PM  
Blogger qsg said...

M, I think it's a little bit of your own yardstick, and a little bit of benchmarking. At the end of the day though, it's what makes you happy...as long as we are pursuing what gives us happiness and not what the others believe should give us happiness - I think it's success, right!

Loved Pursuit of Happyness. Great great movie! :)

5:51 PM  
Blogger Eroteme said...

More than "how" I would wonder "why we measure success"... If the why is understood, I think the how can be easily realised... :-)

9:13 PM  
Blogger Shirsha said...

oh yeah, thats abt the best takeaway from the movie!
But one requires a lot of chewing and simmerring that piece in mind before it can seep into a belief! But lets see how it goes...

2:04 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

The problem is that the feeling of success is temporary, whatever yardstick you measured it by. Even if you set your own standards, the nagging doubt, the glare of insecurity does come to haunt you back.

But that is a great attitude to have, though --- "Go get it. Period."

6:09 AM  
Blogger twip said...

I set my own standards and try to measure up to it, only because I am very harsh on myself. I know that working up to the paradigm I set for myself will be an uphill task and that really gets me going.

It is a tad difficult though, but hey I try. :)

4:21 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Muffet said...

i've debated over this measure of success ever since i can remember..and i've always ended up knowing that for me, success depends on my measures, my standards...if every person's problems are unique, then every person's successes should be unique too..why let the world decide?

7:39 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

Success I'd say is the power to go get it. :))

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok .. it looks like the movie really had some great effect on you :)

btw .. consider yourself successful only when you think you have achieved what you set out for .. that is .. set targets .. achieve them .. efficiently and effectively .. for me its as simple as that :)

6:34 AM  
Blogger ghetufool said...

you are quite a successful blogger. you have so many comments!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Rohini said...

If only I could sustainably convince myself that the seond option is the best - but such clarity only comes after you've had a bad experience with judging yourself by other people's standards

12:22 PM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

Sucess, I think, is being able to be mad - maaney, totally effing types, without ever trying, or doping or faking it.

Oh, btw, I think you'll like this. I was quite blown away.

12:47 PM  
Blogger That Girl said...

My success will be when i get into heaven or not.Nothing else matters in this world...not when compared to that way bigger prize.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Ekta said...

very well said...guess my success is set by my own standards...though what others think does matter

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful thought isn't it.

A little measuring up against other's might not be such a bad thing.Might help keep things in perspective.Might!

8:19 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ jhantu where would we be had we used only logic :)
@ mohit believing that you are successful and actually being successful are probably two different things, right? Believing you are successful goes by the second option. What you think and believe in. However when you put yourself on a relative scale that's when it starts getting complicated. Who do you believe? Your inner voice?
@ t.r. well that is the problem you see. As soon as you reach your goal there's something else that you want from life. Like finding the answers only to discover that someone changed all the questions.
And you know what the problem with measring anything is, right? It has to be measured against something. And that's where the biggest problem is.
@ anon whether it matters you ask? and assuming you mean 'success' I assure you it does. When it ceases to matter you might as well be dead. You live by your dreams and they are the only things that can motivate you to live each day.
@ aruba very nicely said. So 'success' is not absolute but relative. And yes it makes perfect sense. But say you measure yourself up and decide that you are 7 units successful and someone who has a whole new way of measuring things comes up to you and says you're wrong and you measure up to 3 units.
What do you do then?
@ qsg the sad thing is that the people who are benchmarking you and measuring you up probably don't give a shit about whether you are happy or not. So if success means making yourself happy you have to have your own benchmark and live by it. And "don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something" :)
@ eroteme isn't the "why" the basic inspiration for living your life? I mean who in the world would dream of living a life by being a failure at everything. You have dreams. and you have to protect them. By trying to succeed and live up to expectations. Your own expectations. And yes you may fail, but you have to learn to pick yourself up and keep moving. That to me is the "why". But the "how" seems elusive, still.
@ shirsha so now you have a blog that one cannot read anymore :(

9:13 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ sudipta you're absolutely right. No matter what yardstick you use, your own or borrowed, it's the insecurities that keep you from measuring up.
@ megha good for you and as someone points out, it is whatever that makes you happy. You go girl!
@ little miss muffet that is true but when someone comes up and tells you that you're wrong and your success has been measured and comes short, do you still hold on to your belief or do you feel the niggling sense of doubt starting to creep in?
@ priya profound eh? Yeah so "go get it. Period".
@ utkarsh as someone pointed out I am wallowing in this dark state of mind and looks like the movie was a real uplifting one :)
@ ghetufool well if you "measure" success by the number of commnets may be :)
@ rohini I think it is the other way round. You set your standards and think you are doing good and then someone walks up and tells you that you were wrong. sucess is measured against someone else and wrt that you are not successful. That's when you get confused and lose direction.
@ r.i.m. that was awesome. Thanks a ton!
@ grafxgurl well atleast you know for sure :)
@ ekta so the confusion remains, huh?
@ educatedunemployed and may be the keeping in perspective bit is totally brutal and you realize you've been a fool all along. For having set standards that don't hold water. Thanks for visiting.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of two cases that I know of:

Case I: Successful people. Went to the best schools, had the best education, has a great job. Lives in a huge house, has a wonderful family. Drives a fancy car. Keeps reminding everyone how much more successful they are than anyone else. Everyone is driving back from an informal gathering. Case I's expensive car does not fare as well as someone else's inexpensive car. Guess what? Within two days, Case I ditches the car and gets an even facier one. A new make and model, something that you would not really spot on the road for a few months. Wouldn't say why but you are left wondering?

Case II: Nice people. Kind and caring and giving. Really accomplished in whatever they do. Very modest. Struck by a series of misfortunes. People complain they have had the hardest times, but nothing like this. I haven't seen anyone else hit so hard and many others agree. Lost everything, everything one can imagine. They were so close and yet everything drifted away. Jobs, home, careers, health, family and most importantly dreams. Even their marriage may not survive. Nothing to really hold on to. Any yardsticks that you would use to measure, they are utter failures. You wouldn't see any hope in their eyes. Ask and they will tell you all they want is to survive. They may rise, they may never recover, ony future can tell.

Witnessing both scenarios, my definitons of success have become convoluted. What comes to mind is "E jogote hai shei beshi chai, ache jar bhuri bhuri".

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are two seperate things. One is what success means to you. And the second is being successful in the eyes of the world. While the former brings you inner happiness and peace, the latter brings recognition, a sense of achievement and an ego boost. And while we have been taught to think that it doesn't matter what others think, I honestly believe that the second bit is just as important for leading a normal life as the first.
What I am trying to say is no one would be able to sustain any kind of work if there was no appreciation or recognition involved. We do things for different reasons, but there is always a 'reason'. And accomplishing that is probably what we call success.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then that is a bad judgement call.Nothing wrong with the standard.

I am only presenting an argument.I do understand what you mean.

3:36 PM  
Blogger The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

why don't you leave one line between replies to comments? :p

nice, thought provoking post.

10:54 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ p well I'm a little confused about what you are trying to say here.

You say about Case I "Successful people". Is that what you think or the general consensus or what they think? Because honestly driving the most expensive car doesn't necessarily qualify anyone as a "success".

And then you talk about Case II and say by any yardstick they are "utter failures". But you also say "Nice people. Kind and caring and giving. Really accomplished in whatever they do." If they are considered nice and accomplished then by most yardsticks they have been successful. They may have a series of misfortunes but that would be saying they have been "unfortunate" or say "unlucky". But failures? Probably not.

I guess you're probably saying when one tries to measure the level of success by common yardsticks of career, money, family case I would qualify as a success while case II would not. And yet case II was more deserving and probably a nicer person than case I.

Someone mentioned here that success is pursuing whatever that makes one happy. And may be by that definition case I is successful because he/ she is pursuing what he/ she thinks is making him/ her happy. Confusing but true.

@ teardrop wise words and i agree completely. Thanks for stopping by.

@ educatedunemployed bad judgement call? By the person who sets the standard or the one who is judging it? And yes may be there is nothing wrong with the standard but it still doesn't qualify you as a success does it? Just trying to keep it in perspective :)

@ TGFI will keep that in mind :) Thanks!

1:39 PM  
Blogger The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

watta relief it is to read now, :-) thanks for taking it up. :p

7:40 PM  
Blogger Bharath Hemachandran said...

Ok random rambling here... but being successful is when you consider you have acheived your notion of success. However as we continue to exist, our idea of what success means to us changes constantly.

It is something that is very personal. Every person has their own idea on defining success. For some it is marital bliss, for others it is fame and fortune. Yet others may consider riches to be the ultimate mark of a successful person.

Then again success could be acheived in different fields. You could be a success in your career, but a flop in your personal life! How many times have you seen people that wish they could be in a meaningful relationship even though they may be multi-millionaires.

The concept of success is something that people are always looking for (not always a bad thing). Of course once a benchmark has been reached people set new ones.

My idea of success is when I know that my parents, wife, sister and others that I love consider me to be a success... when I know that they look up to me and go ... I am proud to be your father/mother/wife/sister etc.

But then I once met this guitar playing hobo in central america who told me that he was the happiest man in the world to be able to do anything, anytime, anyplace in the world. So perhaps he is the most successful person I have known?

10:11 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust said...

i am sorry, but i dnt belive in any of the philosophies u have mentioned as far as measuring success is concerned. there is one which my father strongly belivs in, and yes i hv startd to beliv in it too.....he says that a man's succcess lies in his offspring's success.....his kids faring well in every perspective than he has so far.....bringing one's child as a true human being, n not as a namesake of humanity :)

12:34 PM  
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6:06 AM  

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