Success, Failure And The Shades Of Grey

By Shobhit Agarwal:

Conversation 1
Some Annoying Person (SAP):”How many copies of your book have been sold?”
Me:”I don’t have the exact figure but my publisher tells me that the sales have been great.”
SAP:”But still, roughly how many copies sold? And what is the royalty you are going to get per book?

Conversation 2
SAP:”Are you placed?
Me:”Yes.
SAP:”What is the package?
In the past few days, I have had too frequent instances of having to share either of the above two conversations (or in some cases both) with most of the people I have come across.

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At first, these conversations angered and irritated me to the core as I just couldn’t fathom as to why everyone was so keen to judge my accomplishments based on a few predefined parameters. People, who haven’t even read my book, want to know its sales and the royalty I am going to get from it. People, who have no idea about the company I am placed in, want to know my salary structure. People, who have no idea about the grading system in engineering colleges, want to know my CGPA.

And not just with book or job or grades, the same scenario persists in almost every activity we undertake in life. Think about it, when we passed our class 5 final examination, did anyone ever ask us what we learned in that particular academic year? No. Everyone only wanted to know the percentage we scored so as to encapsulate the whole of our academic year into a two digit number and put it to test on the judgement-meter, which only understands the language of numbers, and gives either of the two verdict – pass or fail.

One of the major components of the society’s DNA (and in my opinion its greatest drawback) has been its tendency to classify a person’s achievement as success or failure. Because of this petty mindset, they have formed certain predefined figures in their minds; failing to achieve which, one is termed as a failure. As a result, me not making it to the IITs or my book not becoming a best-seller or my salary not being a 7 figure one or my CGPA being less than 9, will be classified as failures, without giving two hoots about the effort that I put in behind all of them. It is the result of such a fetish for numbers that we have turned our lives into a rat race and have compounded to the growing number of youngsters taking up their lives as a result of them failing to match the society’s so called standards.

I am happy with what I am and where I am. My happiness is subjected to my well-being which is dependent on my self assessment and is independent of public opinion.
As long as I am happy in my mind, no amount of effort on the society’s part to belittle my efforts and achievements are going to bear any fruit. They will be better served if they focus on establishing their own lives, rather than worrying about my standing.
We crib about the society being so judgmental and result oriented, but do we have any right when we ourselves contribute towards the same? If we want things to improve, let us broaden our horizon and have a broader perspective rather than just label any effort as success or failure. There is more to the conclusion of any event than just its results.

So, the next time your brother, niece or nephew is holding a progress report in his hand, don’t ask him his percentage. Instead ask him what new lessons he learned in that particular academic year. The next time you meet your engineering friend; do not ask him his CGPA. Instead ask him what 4 years of engineering has taught him. I assure you, those will be lot more interesting conversations to have.

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