We are in the grip of a new, inundating wave. Success. The idea is to pursue and realise the ‘achievement badge,’ pronto. The less the wait, the better it is at the altar of accomplishment. Not the timeless thought, or call for action, that relates, or qualifies, as to what honours and triumphs we are aiming at, as philosopher Seneca underlined, following which we must embark on a clear roadmap by which we can achieve them with fidelity and fortitude. Yet, the spin-off of our modern, frenetic life is perceptible — that notwithstanding our frenzied ‘run,’ there comes a point in everyone’s life of ‘that failed’ quest for gold at every step. For one simple reason — all of us, as belated wisdom would tell us, need help, and guidance, in our journey through time. This holds good for folks who are most successful — they too would benefit from reminders and fresh articulations of truth. More so, because they ought to rethink, redefine, refocus, and strive for excellence — in tune with change.
Now, the big question — is there a universal condition that guarantees success? As Tom Morris, a professor of philosophy, puts it, all of us ought to cut through the maze — this, he emphasises, is indispensable for meeting our everyday challenges and to turning our beliefs into practice and aspirations into realities. This is primarily because the most common malady of our time is a ‘distorted understanding of success.’ In Morris’s words, “Genuine achievement should begin with something in the inner life of thought, feeling, imagination, and judgment, and provide for our moving into a form of success in the outer world that will resonate deeply with our innermost needs and values.”
The next question is, yet again, palpable. How do we attain both harmony and balance necessary for true success and happiness? Simple. The pursuit of success should be an exciting and fulfilling adventure. A desire for success in any activity should be well defined and enhanced by a broader perspective on what it takes for success in life — one that draws sustained inspiration from the great thinkers of the past and bears continued relevance in the troubled times that we now live in. In other words, the search for qualified success is a philosophical touchstone, a straightforward, yet profound ‘Armageddon,’ with the kind of success that is available to every human being. One that each of us is endowed with — to using our talents and following our heart, and not equating wealth, fame, power, or social status with success. As Morris explains, “A spiritual malaise within any person inevitably infects relations between, and among persons, preventing them from being the best that they can be.”
What does this connote, from the point-of-view of achievement? That you and I ‘own’ the power of imaginative vision, self-talk, inner self-reminders, gusto, and envisioned goals. We are equally gifted with persistence, provided we cultivate the trait and expand it from deep within and not throw in the towel in the face of our first, big challenge. Besides, nature has integrated into our lives, at the most fundamental level, a sense of tradition — clear conception, confidence, concentration, consistency, emotional commitment, good character, and a wholesome capacity to enjoy the process.
What’s more, most philosophers have, since time immemorial, identified four fundamental expressions of human life, viz., the intellectual dimension, which aims at truth; the aesthetic dimension, which aims at beauty; the moral dimension, which aims at goodness; and, the spiritual dimension, which aims at god. Yet, there’s no halfway house with them. As Benjamin Disraeli exemplified, “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”