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You Need To Know The Answers To These 3 Questions To Achieve Success

It starts with “why?”

03/04/2017 11:51 AM IST | Updated 05/04/2017 9:13 AM IST
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Failure and the fear of it are dominant emotions, and widespread. The roots of this fear lie in the fact that many of us tend to live up to the expectations others have of us. We are not convinced about what we are doing and thus, unable to strategise and think things through. The experience can be draining.

"Believe in what you are doing" is possibly the simplest definition I can think of for "passion." It is a powerful feeling and once you believe, you have what it takes to get the job done.

Without "why", our actions become routine and consequently, alienating. We sing a tune others have composed... Nothing could be more tragic.

This really means that we need to identify what drives us. Path-breakers like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and many others were "driven" people. They had an idea that they embraced and which became their sole obsession and their dream. Threats, intimidation and death did not deter them from their "why." Even today, they inspire and transmit positive energy.

And you see similar instances in the everyday stories of persons around us.

I once had a neighbour who was divorced and unemployed, wasn't in particularly good health, had two children one of whom was suffering from cerebral palsy and the other had a severe learning deficiency. Many might have considered her a failure for not having a successful married life, for not having produced healthy children, for not having a decent job and income, for not being in good health herself.

I came to know her reasonably well and always found her to be an extraordinary person, who never let her challenging circumstances overwhelm and diminish her. She was cheerful and went about her business as everyone else did despite the fact that her life was seriously difficult.

She had unwavering focus because she had discovered her "why." It is what gave her life meaning and purpose. Without the why, she would truly have been reduced to a failure. She would have given up because her sole obsession would have been why me? And then, she would have wallowed in grief. But I can only remember her for her fortitude, her attitude and her smile. She made me a better person.

The "why" or its lack, in other words, lies at the root of human behaviour. Without "why", our actions become routine and consequently, alienating. We sing a tune others have composed and which we are unable to relate to. Nothing could be more tragic.

Once "why" and "what" fall in place, "how" or strategy/methodology follows.

On the other hand, once we know our why, the "what" follows. Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela knew, for instance, why they needed to shift the discourse from violence to non-violence. Thereafter, the instruments they would use—or the "what" and "how"—fell into place.

Many fail because we start with "what" before knowing "why." If we know "why", failures would not deter us. A sense of distancing would set in and we would be able to accept success and failure as natural consequences rather than as an achievement or a lacuna.

Once "why" and "what" fall in place, "how" or strategy/methodology follows.

The sequence to achieve success, therefore, is "why", followed by "what", and then finally "how."

At the same time, it is critical for us to recognise that no action succeeds in the long run if we fail to do the right thing. Our actions need to uplift and help transform lives. This is the magic formula that has been handed down to us over the centuries. Believe in what you do but do the right thing because nothing else truly matters. I will add one more adage: Life is short, a gift and ephemeral: don't waste it.

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