A humble submission and resolution for next half of the new year.
- I won’t read any self help books
- I won’t read any blog or article that begin with headers such as “How to become a millionaire in 10 steps.”
This is at the cost of the blog not being popular or my inability to simplify life and experiences for the mass majority. I guess we lack patience and the rigor to go through the drill. Or possibly, the life too short to be enjoyed as a journey. I feel, we all have unique experiences and each of which makes this planet a better place to live in. If there was a formula, commercialization of this idea wouldn’t have been a problem and it would been biggest funded venture capitalists startup.
Such articles follow a typical methodology
- They start with a successful personality and trace his life. Put in perspective all his/her hardships etc.
- They look at few common traits such as courage, optimism, risk taking, etc and comment on the traits. “Taking risk” would be by far the most citied term. And encourage you to take risk and follow path.
- Celebrate and equate “Risk taking” to amount of wealth generated, the most respected symbol for success.
Reading autobiographies are better because at least it is first hand. At the same time, we are assuming that all the facts mentioned in the memoir are true and verified. Whatever be the consideration, the success outweighs any other factor. By another argument, “Failure”, though a celebrated word in our context, won’t be seen as a successful plot; will have few takers. Have you read memoirs of anyone who has been failure? Probably none, because the chances are more likely that such stories wouldn’t have been written. Though such people in normal life would have demonstrated the same set of traits, courage, optimism and risk taking, however there exists a fine line between success and failure.
I was inspired by one of the section in Malcolm Gladwell’s book that I’m reading, David & Goliath, underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants. He dedicates a section to a Hollywood personality, who had been very successful. He began working very early in his life because his father would ask him to fund half of everything, pester him if he left the light switch on, “We are paying for you being lazy.” His father had a scrap metal business, where he worked and swore that he would never get back there again. So left with no choice he had to chart is own journey of being financial independent. His father had 3 sons who were motivated and did well in their work. I’m sure, few would be interested in the father’s side of the story. And even after reading, they may wonder where is it going. Unfortunately, what is learnt can never be taught.
Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught- Oscar Wilde
Mr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book, The Black Swan, calls such phenomenon as the Silent evidence. He cites the story of drowned worshippers to further elaborate. One Diagoras, a non-believer in Gods was presented with a tablet which had portraits of worshipper, who prayed and survived shipwreck. Diagoras asked a very pertinent question, “What about the people who prayed and then drowned?”. The chances are likely that the dead worshippers won’t be available to pose as model or share the experience. To establish the truth we will take the part of reality that appeals to us the most. According to Mr. Taleb, the neglect of the silent evidence is the endemic to the way we study comparative talent, particularly in activities that have winner-take-it-all-attitude.
Phoenicians are credited to have invented the first written script. They were merchants and need a method to measure commerce. As it is said about the Egyptians, who used tablets to keep a record of treasury. The utility of these method was to facilitate the understanding and not just rely on memory. This wasn’t art, plain simple arithmetic. It served a purpose, it helped us count. It was real.
We may enjoy what we may see, but there is no point in reading too much, because we don’t see the full picture. The only complete picture that we have is of ours, which maybe ordinary, but is true and real. It requires courage to accept it as is.
And there couldn’t be better learning about success than from our own. Each day and every hour and the celebration of the ordinary, the mundane and the inconsequential. It is the most influential story that you can ever write.
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