Monday, 4 July 2016

How do you achieve success in the twenty-first century?

If I was asked whether the present time is the best time to strive for success and achieve it I would state frankly that there is no better time than the present to do so! We are living in the age of information technology, an age which has empowered us; perhaps no other age has empowered Man as much as this age! We live in times when knowledge and information is available at the click of the button, and it is mostly free! If you agree that the adage, knowledge is power is correct then this is surely the age to be in! 

While no doubt, technological advancement has given us huge opportunities to succeed, it has also given other people  the same  opportunities to succeed, which means, rather selfishly that if everyone succeeds, then no one really succeeds! We are all running in a rat race, and in this race there can only be a few winners. Well, I guess, in that case, we need be clear whether we are talking about individual success, perhaps even, collective success, or perhaps even success of the whole mass of humanity! The reader will have to make a decision before he goes on reading this essay!

I would like to make clear to the reader before going further that my intention in this essay is to focus on how one might achieve success in these times as an individual. Collective success is anyway a much more relative aspect of living in times of technological advancement! I would like to argue, moreover, that collective success can never be related to the quantum of success achieved by a highly motivated individual. There will be leaders and there will be followers.

Technological advancement has  ironically saddled us with even more chances of failure! The advantage of having everything made available to us at the touch of a button had made us lazy and complacent. The fact that most of us have access to the same information has resulted in the rise of mediocrity and repetition. Creativity and divergent thinking go for a toss, and we are no different from  traditional schools that spawned people who were adept at rote memorisation. In such a context, collective success will often end up in conformism and crowd thinking, and this is not my idea of success! The successful individual will always break out of the group because he or she thinks creatively and more effectivley. A successful leader will no doubt lead successful people, he will motivate and promote collective success.

If success is about thinking differently, creatively and in a unique manner, then I believe very strongly that the Information Technology age has failed miserably because it has promoted a  generation of conformists and copy cats, mediocre people who ascribe to popular thought processes. Being cool and popular might be only the result of projecting widely accepted beliefs and thoughts! Collective success is apparently made up of the ability to conform to popular trends, fashions, and mores! Success, clearly is about being able to transcend conformism, mediocrity, and acceptability! Success is also about thinking differently from others, being able to find a different or alternative solution to the problem. Here I am talking about developing discernment and the ability to read between the lines - being able to a different path as opposed to the obvious one! I will be frank enough to state that my essay is an attempt to promote individual success although perhaps, it might result in an increase in the population of successful people thereby promoting the concept of collective success!

Success clearly is about being able to think differently, being able to think creatively and being able to find alternatives to accepted popular beliefs! To achieve success in this age one should develop SMART goals. The 'S' in the acronym refers to 'System' based 'Sustainable' goals, while the 'M' refers to 'Method', 'A' refers to 'Active and 'Adaptive' goals, 'R' refers to 'Research' based 'Reasonable' goals, and 'T', refers to 'Time bound!' To achieve success, one has to have a goal that addresses the system. Here I am talking about one's ability to break a problem into a 'Systematic' process. To achieve success, one needs to have some idea about the 'Method' that will help one achieve success. Success depends on one's ability to 'Research' on the topic. The 'T' stands for the ability to develop a 'Time-bound' plan to solve a problem. One needs to train ones' self to target SMART goals to achieve success in today's times.

Many a times, people fail to achieve success at the eleventh hour. This is mainly because people who strive for success lose hope just when they are so close to success.  Success is al, about being able to sustain ones' self through a period of success and failure. For such people, the best advice is that they should train themselves to 'plod,' which means in effect that they train themselves to keep striving in the face of apparent failure ! The ability to plod is derived from the ability to walk the difficult path in spite of not achieving instant success. The age of technology has unfortunately trained us to achieve instant results. Here, I would like to compare the 'instant coffee approach' with the 'bread making approach'. The 'instant coffee approach' teaches us about the possibility of achieving instant results, a corollary of living in an age of technological advancement. The fact however is that, in spite of what popular TV serials teach us, success is often a long drawn process. Robert the Bruce achieved success only after suffering from numerous failures. He saw a spider that tried to climb on to the top of its web, in spite of failing to do so many times. It achieved to do so after having tried a number of times. One should have the patience and the ability to trod on the path of success even if it means one has failed to climb the ladder of success a number of times! Persistence and patience, apparently are the key-words for success! Persistence, apparently is one of the key words for success in today's times! To strive in the face of opposition and numerous failures is a quality one needs to inculcate in order to achieve success.

Discernment and the ability to think out of the box will be a boon for those who want to achieve success, and  added to this is the ability to filter out the obvious and the unnecessary. In a world where we are trained to look for the obvious it has become all the more important that we train ourselves to search for the hidden options. For this to happen, we need to train ourselves look beyond the options that have been given to us.

Success in the twenty-first century is not about power and wealth, rather it is about being able to  feel happy about one's achievements, and knowing that one has made a difference to the society. Self actualisation and the resulting joy are things that matter .

The ability to filter out the unnecessary from the necessary, is a skill that needs to be nurtured .In an age where we are bombarded with information, it has become all the more important for us to develop skills that equip us to filter information useful information from unless information. To be successful, one needs act as a filter!

Success is a relative term, and what matters is how one views success in an age that has offered all the opportunities for success and failure alike. While success for some might be found in monetary gains, for others it might lie in the knowledge that one has made a difference. For others success might mean achieving self actualisation, while others it might lie in proving to the world that one was correct! 

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