Thursday, November 21, 2013

Success

I wish someone would start listing the most unsuccessful people of the world - a sort of Fortune-less 500. I am sure that I would find a place there. Why, I have not even been successful in identifying exactly what is success.

It is not merely a fad of my adult days. My tryst with obscurity started right in my childhood. My mother - with all the good intentions in the world - started me off on the alphabet with A for Ambition, as opposed to the customary Apple, and went on to teach me B for Bravery, C for Caution etc. The only problem was that I never did manage to figure out what Ambition was and, thus, could not go beyond the first alphabet. Thus, my potential academic achievements got nipped in the bud - the very first bud, in fact.

About the only sign of ambition I ever displayed was when we were standing in line for the school assembly. Being among the shortest in the class, there was always a tussle with another vertically challenged chap about who was the taller of the two.

Me: (Hiking up the shoulder next to his) See, I am taller.
He: (Standing on tip-toe) No, I am taller.

No bean-pole ever took more pride in half a centimeter of height than two short guys vying not to be the first in the line. Do you think Amitabh Bacchan ever stood on tip-toe to be considered the taller one?

In fact, my only problem is that I failed to continue on the same lines. Maybe, just maybe, I would have achieved success too. The issue was that I, somehow, had the mistaken impression that adult ambition was different and lofty. In retrospect, I find that this one mistaken impression ruined all chances of success for me.

Adult 1: I have a huge car.
Adult 2: My car is bigger than yours.

(Of course, they say it all differently. Adult 1 probably says, "This BMW is such a comfortable vehicle" and Adult 2 probably replies, "Once you use a Rolls, you will never look at another car" but it all amounts to the same thing)

Or

Adult 1: I know big shots.
Adult 2: I know even bigger shots.

(In adult parlance:
Adult 1: I was just telling Rahul the other day...
Adult 2: Next time Barack calls me, I will tell him this)

Or

Adult 1: I go on foreign vacations every year.
Adult 2: I go to even more expensive places.

(In adult parlance:
Adult 1: When I was in Kuala Lumpur last year..
Adult 2: Nothing can beat skiing in Switzerland)

They teach all sorts of things at school but they fail to teach you this simple thing. The difference between schoolboy success and adult success is purely a matter of semantics. Your ambition is only as childish as the words you use to boast about your achievements.

Not that it would have helped me much, come to think of it. At school, it was always the other chap who proved himself to be taller even at the cost of standing on tip-toe all through the assembly. I just could not be bothered to put myself out so much.

So - I wait for that Fortune-less 500 to give me my fame (That, incidentally, was the F of my mother's alphabet!)

64 comments:

  1. You make me laugh, Suresh! Great article!
    Penny

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    1. Thanks Penny! Been busy days and seems likely to be so for the rest of this year - keeping me off reading online.

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  2. This post is precisely why I can relate to you so much Suresh. Clearly mirrors my point of view on the topic of ambitions and our school-boyish fascination for one-up-ship. Either both of us are very alike, or you just wrote this post and made me highlight my woeful inadequacies through this one comment.

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    1. I am the IIM MBA qho quit working at 41. So what does it look like? :)

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  3. Hahahhahaha this was toooo good. And you were questioning your humour sense. Falking abt Fortune-less 500.....I think I can fight for it tok. Especially being the knce gallest kid in the school 6th grade and then suddenly becoming the shortest at 9th. Hahaha this was a great post.

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    1. Thanks Red Handed! With such praise, I am gaining more confidence in my sense of humor :)

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  4. Hm.. Thats all life is about. This can manifest in other forms for say bloggers I guess.

    Blogger 1: I have 500 page views a day.
    Blogger 2: I have 520 page views a day.

    or so called literati

    literati 1: Tolstoy makes an interesting point in War and Peace
    literati 2: True.But James Joyce's non linear style really really makes the reader think.

    It is all compare and contrast all the way everywhere.

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    1. Yes - In every field we seem to be standing on tip-toe :) Very uncomfortable :)

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  5. Interesting observations. :) Please do make a list of your mother's ABC. Maybe we can use it to teach the grown up version of kindergarten.

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    1. Ambition; Bravery, Caution; Determination; Earnestness; Fame; Genius; Honesty; Independence; Justice; Keenness; Labor; Modesty; Nobility; Order; Punctuality; Quickness; Readiness; Steadiness; Tirelessness; Uniqueness; Virtuousness; Wisdom; 'Xactness; Yearning; Zeal.

      Tell me - are these the words you teach a KG kid? And people complain about my vocabulary - what can I do with such a start? :)

      And, btw, before you laud my memory I just thought of all that I did not have and it was dead easy :)

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  6. hehehe this was really funny! :P Fortuneless indeed.. i just quit a cushy consulting job to sit in my armchair and blog..consider my name on that list as well ;-)

    On another note, those are not words to teach any kid at home if you ask me.. unfortunately for them they are pulled into a rat race the day they enter their play school/kindergarten.. home need not become a part of it right ...or should it? :)

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    1. Hmm -my mom belonged in the days when survival was all the prize the rat race offered :)

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  7. Another brilliantly funny post Suresh. I think I too might find myself a spot in the Fortune-less 500, having quit a pretty good job for a life of blogging and parenting :)

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  8. Hah! I wonder how you are coping with all your success as a blogger, considering that you don't even have to stand, let alone on tiptoes, to tower over everyone else!

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    1. That's your affection for me speaking, Rickie! Why, I never figure in anyone's top anything blog-list in any forum. Far from towering over everyone, I doubt that I have even comparable stature to anyone :)

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  9. A nice post!

    Suresh sir, you have been tagged and awarded the Liebster award for bringing smiles to your readers with your posts!

    http://teerthadanam.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/the-tag/

    Kindly do take your precious time to accept the award and write.

    Cheers,
    Mahesh

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    1. Thanks Mahesh! Thanks for the award as well. It is heart-warming to receive such affection.

      My apologies, though. Earlier this year I have put up Liebster awards posts and I think doing it too often in the same year may end up making me a figure of fun :) And, I have recently declined to post to other affectionate people who have also nominated me for the Liebster. So, please do not mistake me for not posting for your award as well.

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    2. Sure Suresh Sir - No worries :) Your posts will always delight your readers :)

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  10. Superb post to bring out the contrast and how people trivialize 'real' success in terms of materialistic.

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    1. There was a time, maybe, when achievement translated to success, Janaki :)

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  11. A very nice, Post! Loved it!
    We all indulge in comparisons! :)
    News Channels claim they gave the fastest news! Parents claim their kids are taller, sharper, stronger or got better grades or awards! It's all a rat-race! Have indulged in it! :)
    Have always been the tallest in class! Can relate coz even I quit my job :)

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    1. And, as they say, even if you win the rat race you still remain a rat :)

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    2. Yes indeed! I wanted to put this line too in my comment, but it has been added all right! :)

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    3. Great minds, they say, think alike :) Let us assume that if two minds think alike, they must be great minds :)

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  12. Ambition could lead to achievement but tom-toming your achievements only leads to people skirting around you.The over-ambitious truly grate.

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    1. Nowadays, money stands for achievement Indu! :)

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  13. Haha, the things people brag about. This is what I hear almost everyday.

    Neighbor 1: My son studied upto 2 am last night. I made him almond milk.
    Neighbor 2: My son studied upto 4 am last night. I gave him almonds, milk and chawanprash!

    I loved the humor you have induced here. I guess comparing is the best form of show off in our country. People seem to follow it judiciously though.

    I'm looking forward to the fortune-less 500. I might top the list :P

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    1. Wow! Oneupmanship everywhere - and you want to upstage me on that Fortune-less 500 list? No way :)

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  14. having a cup of roadside tea and someone else paying for it, is success for me. so according to me, you are one of the most successful persons on earth, like bill gates, may be.

    another entertaining post! how do you manage to come up with such hilarious posts on a regular basis?

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    1. Thanks Debs! Yes - I share that ambition with you too :)

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  15. Oh well, have you seen how it is the latest gadget these days. Mind you, not only for the adult but for kids too. But think of these poor sloggers, how else will they justify a crappy boss, work that sucks, 18-hour workdays and truckloads of stress, if they could not at least measure their car with that of the neighbor's!

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    1. And sell off their marginally smaller cars on OLX? :) True - poor chaps must need some entertainment :)

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  16. I have always felt that I could have done more if I wished, but then I am happy that I took time to enjoy life or learn my lessons! BTW, for me digesting your unsuccessful story is a bit difficult. I can see your success in many ways.

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    1. Oh! I consider myself successful Farida by my own standards of success :) I am only talking of the conventional measures of success - the huge car, the upmarket flat and all that jazz :)

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  17. It is a striking analysis of misplaced ambition from someone claiming to have failed to grasp the very alphabets of the emotion.

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    1. Thanks Uma! It is the un-involved observer who sees more clearly :)

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  18. Fortune-Less 500 :) Ha Ha Ha.... And the 'Time Magazine' could have an inferior cousin 'SomeTime Magazine' :D

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  19. Hmm a serious point made there in a so-not-serious manner Suresh. We always need someone else to compare ourselves to in order to convince our own selves and the big bad world that we have achieved some success in life. Unfortunately such dialogues are more than common in society. Hmm !

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    1. And the consequence is we run after things that will allow us to compare ourselves favorably rather than doing what we want to do or what is actually productive, Jaish! :)

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  20. Hope you'll take this on the jaw, CS. You won't be on that list. Haha, enjoyed that - I mean the post.

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    1. Hahaha! Better the jaw than the gut - KayEm :) It will be more painful there for me :)

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  21. "Your ambition is only as childish as the words you use to boast about your achievements." - Well said. I read 'retirement' and came here feeling all worried, wondering if you are retiring from writing too. Phew. No such thing. You, Suresh, must have had a big slice of 'success', big enough to have willingly retired yourself from working for a boss and becoming your own master with masterpieces thus. :)

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    1. My only signal success has been in keeping my needs simple, Sakshi! With only myself to cater for and my own needs satisfied without exorbitant sums - well, till the veggie prices shot up North at least - it was an easy enough call to retire without achieving what people call success :)

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  22. So darn true. If only we stopped concentrating on comparing with others and started focusing on ourselves more, life would be so much more successful and fun.

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    1. Yes - Arti! But it seems such a difficult thing to do for most

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    1. Looks like we will need the Fortune-less 5000000 this way :)

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  24. Fortune less 500!!!!Hillarious! There is never a dull moment on your blog!

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  25. I think all of us have this confusion. It is just that we dare not dig in our vulnerability.

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    1. I do not, Diwa! Simply because I lack the brains to see it as a vulnerability :)

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  26. Entertaining post on a very serious topic!
    One-upmanship is something many people indulge in. Some people try to show they're out of the rat race, but they give themselves away.
    A: "I've not missed a single talk of Sri Sri's this year. The only problem is finding a suitable parking space for my Beemer."
    B: "Next time, you should sit in the front row. Nothing to beat that!"

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    1. This habit of standing on tip-toes is very difficult to break :)

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  27. I think ambition is like whisky. All of us have a limit to which we can enjoy it. After that it goes to our head. Without fail.

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    1. That's fine Amit but it is still no help to me in deciding what to be ambitious about :)

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  28. Hello Suresh sir,
    Such an important observation made lighter by your unique style of writing. Just the other day someone advised me to speak with you and ask for advise over something.
    Regarding the topic, with social media engulfing our daily life this comparison has become even uglier. I hope people start comparing how happy they are instead of how much they can show off.
    Regards

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  29. Yep, its all in the scales, what tips the scales. I noticed this post was about 3 years old, this kind of oneupmanship is timeless and so is this post, a timeless classic!

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    1. Thanks Kala! I do try, mostly, to write things that are not time-dependent, so that I can dust off and present them every now and then :)

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