30+ 50+ 65+ No, I am not doing any arithmetic. Just looking at the measurables at various stages of life – money, status, power, love, and not necessarily in that order.
So, there’s this 65+ coach and mentor, currently writing a management self-help book, with more than four decades of experience in leading transformational changes in global companies and their supply network. While he does respond with a resounding yes to the question posed in the headline to this article, there are various other parameters where he considers himself “not successful”. More on that a bit later.
A self-made 50+ media tycoon who had once confessed that his driver perhaps knows more about him than his spouse says entrepreneurship is work in progress and that he still has miles to go.
A 30+ enterprising lady who in the early years of her business was constantly pushing the bar when it came to earnings. Not anymore, but not entirely. “If I was earning x, the target was 2x, 3x and 5x but is that what I really have to aim for? Of course, money is important but it’s also important to pursue things that make me feel alive and happy. It’s like how people say, you’re not born just to work and pay your bills. Who are you as a person?”
Says Deepak Gupta, the 65+ coach and mentor, success is difficult to define. Success can mean different things to different people. “I do not consider materialistic success at work and personal life as success! To me, success is whatever one wants to achieve. So right now, I am not yet successful at golf. I am still not successful at seeing the world and its diverse cultures. I am still not successful at playing with and having fun with my grandchildren. I am still not successful at publishing my book through which I want to share my experiential knowledge at large.”
Another 50+ professional who headed the India office for a French buying house and went on to launch a niche print magazine questions: “Isn’t the belief of being successful purely perceptual? There’s an age old saying — success is a journey, not a destination. As soon as you take your eye off the ball, you jeopardise losing your advantage. While being successful at your venture and personal life is about creating balance in your life, which is something almost everyone struggles with. Entrepreneurs need to be disciplined enough to forgo time to accomplish their ambitions but also judicious enough to know when and how to take care of their personal life.”
One needs to understand that if family is the most important part of life, then why shouldn’t one respect the relationships, avers the 50+ managing director at Shoes & Accessories, Amit Chopra. “Rome was not built in a day and neither will your empire. I realised that family would most likely take up around 2 hours of your time. And during this time period one should focus only on relaxing with the family and enjoying their presence. Take some time to enjoy your journey as you progress.”
Entrepreneurs need to be disciplined enough to forgo time to accomplish their ambitions but also judicious enough to know when and how to take care of their personal life.
Establish Boundaries to Maintain Work and Personal Life Balance
Protima Tiwary, the 30+ new age creative entrepreneur and founder of The Mill, a remote worker collective, reiterates the need to balance and even establish boundaries – when to say no to work, being available from 10-7, taking weekends off. “I have the opportunity to creatively challenge myself, to choose projects that I like and to stay happy and maintain work-life balance while doing something that I enjoy. Obviously, I know I can earn much more but if it comes at the cost of my mental peace, I choose sanity over anything else. I will take things as they come because I have made choices that have given me the privilege to enjoy this life, and that for me is success. People working with me have realised that boundaries and wellness is what will help them grow in the long run. Many times, even when the to-do list is overwhelming you need to take out time for yourself. Learning that balance takes a lot of hard work. I think this is where I have found my success.”
Well-being of the mind and body is indeed critical to success, and that pivots entirely on time management. Managing time can often be overwhelming. And it is not just about the to-do list. Many people reach home on time but are still working. In this age of the pandemic, working from home invariably means work spills over. Give yourself time. Dexterous management of time is a skill acquired gradually over a period of time. “Any game that one plays is marked with timelines. In the game of cricket, particularly one-day or T-20s, one gets limited overs. The game ceases beyond that. Similarly, one should have set times where you are unavailable for work and that needs to be respected. What you do with your time is ultimately up to you. Even if you have multiple distractions surrounding you, it’s up to you how you handle it,” posits Chopra.
As we can see, a critical cog in this entire business of success as an entrepreneur is the emotional bulwark that one builds around oneself of family and friends. A supportive emo-system goes that extra mile in keeping one grounded and on the right pitch. Somesh Singh, co-founder of India Craft Week along with wife Iti Tyagi, says there is no conflict at work or at home. “Since I have been working from home it did not make much of a difference during the pandemic. Besides, it helps to be with family. My wife is an equal partner. We build on our strengths by supporting each other, and thankfully we are in the same trade and therefore no conflict of interest. Plus, we do not interfere in each other’s work. And when we do hit a rough spot, we agree to disagree. This helps to build perspective.”
Tiwary harks back to a quote she had read early on in her career — “‘Think of the people in your circle and see who inspires you and if you are not inspired by them then you’re in a cage’. This hit me hard. The people who you surround yourself with are the people who will inspire you. This is very important for success. If you surround yourself with people who are constantly bringing you down or making you doubt yourself then you will never grow personally and every step that you take professionally you will question yourself if you’re doing the right thing. I felt this personally when I left my job and a fixed salary to freelance. I strongly feel the right environment will always depend on the people you surround yourself with. Create your own environment: surround yourself with people who respect your hustle.”
Invest in Long Term ‘Networking’
And if it is partnership one is talking about, then networking is a natural corollary, and yet another arm that deals with relationships. Invest deeply in fostering long term relationships who build you up as you continuously strive to move up the chain.
Startup specialist K R Harish, snowed under a project for a popular OTT content platform, surfaced to put it succinctly: “I consider myself successful though the benchmark for me is life that has the joy of working with the opportunity for deep rest that follows. Material gain is an incidental event.”
According to Gupta, success both at work and on the personal front requires passion, integrity, leadership, ownership and trust. And one has to stay focused and be patient; believe in self and your idea. “Remember, disruptive ideas take longer to succeed.”
A supportive emo-system goes that extra mile in keeping one grounded and on the right pitch.
What is Success in Personal Life?
Success again is not brandishing the costliest iPhone or driving the flashiest car. The third richest man in the world with a net worth of 82.5 billion USD Warren Buffet drives his own Cadillac, eats at a McDonald’s and is happy in a pair of khakis. Steve Jobs’ last words truly encapsulate what success at work and in the personal life should be: “In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death. You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you. Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”. Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down. Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends… Treat yourself well. Cherish others.”
And now a final word from Dr. N Rangarajan, a Chennai-based consultant psychiatrist at Psymed Hospital – Successful entrepreneurs are defined by their company’s net worth, how much their product is valued, the respect they command with peers, and ultimately if they are socially relevant. As long as they are able to feel pleasure in their work, a sense of satisfaction, continue to hold an abiding interest in what they are doing, still able to explore, happy with colleagues and family, have sound sleep, there is no reason to question their success.
These lines from Ralph Waldo Emerson feel apt as a sum up and Google tells me Jeff Bezos has it pinned to his fridge door:
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
If you have been doing all of the above and more, count your successes!