We all know that there is no one-way road to achieving success. Even if there is such an established, perfectly-constructed system, no one has ever succeeded, not even those who have achieved success, in clearly showing others how to get there, though Varun Chablani has made a close call in the clever illustration above.
If we only take a closer look, you’ll find that the successful person just decides to succeed.
The successful person is the first and the last to know nothing but to catch the one train in time to get himself toward Success.
Looking at the illustration, the successful person starts his humble beginnings at Opportunity and go straight to the railroad station before he misses his train, disregarding the appeals of Bohemianism (draft beers) or the endless spin of Conceit (self-engagement). Once on board under the Right System, the successful person takes no second glance at Hotel Know It All, an imprisonment appealingly masked as knowledge, because he has admitted himself to knowing nothing but catching his train.
Only by withholding his good habits and virtues could the successful person bypass Bad Habits and Vices in order to get into the promised land of the System, wherein the biggest and the only hurdle before success is overcoming the Lack of Preparation tunnel, a dark path where the successful person has chosen to learn True Knowledge and gain wisdom.
Once the successful person saw the light at the end of the tunnel, he becomes successful by autopilot: His train follows his soul beyond the Gate of Ideals across the straight, unobstructive path toward Success, while those who have never gotten onboard in the train could only get to Weak Morals at best, unless they finally choose to make the wise decision to succeed.
Then again, we all know that there are far too many successful people who have been welcomed into the promised land, gained wisdom, and practiced morality without getting onboard in their trains, right? Those who get back on their feet after falling into Failure have found the harder road toward Success by their own ideals.
The Public Secret
As you may already know, I’m reading the dean of personal development’s spoken word 1956 record The Strangest Secret, which has sold Earl Nightingale over 1 million copies worldwide even during his time.
Inspired by Napoleon Hill’s 1937 opus Think And Grow Rich, Nightingale wrote the book in honor of history’s most prominent successful persons, their succeeding contributions, and the strangest, yet most remarkable secret of all time, which has preceded these successes in the past as well as the extensive successes achieved today: We become what we think about.
This secret is synonymous with the message written on some of the best-selling self-help books in the industry today, namely Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and the Hicks’ Ask And It Is Given.
Nonetheless, in Nightingale’s own words, success is defined by “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” By this definition, he has devoted a whole chapter to explore the intrinsic value of success, which I think is convincing because let’s face it – success feels better achieved by effort than when it is given.
This chapter is, arguably, a quotation-filled minefield that reflects how we often corrupt the very power of human thought in our lives by thinking in negative terms. Take a look at these clips:
A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.
- Marcus Aurelius
A man is what he thinks about all day long.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.
- William James
We need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question was real and it will become infallibly real by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. It will become so knit with habit and emotion, that our interest in it will be those which characterize belief.
- William James
If you only care enough for a result, you will almost certainly ascertain it. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich. If you wish to be learned, you will be learned. If you wish to be good, you will good. Only you must then really wish things and wish them exclusively and not wish at the same time a hundred other compatible things just as strongly.
- William James
If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
This is one of the greatest laws in the universe. Fervently do I wish I had discovered it as a very young man. It dawned upon me much later in life and I found it to be one of the greatest, if not my greatest discovery, outside of my relationship to God. And the great law briefly and simply stated is that if you think in negative terms, you’ll get negative results. If you’ll think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results. That is the simple fact which is at the basis of an astonishing law of prosperity and success. In three words, ‘believe and succeed’.
- Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
- William Shakespeare
People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.
- George Bernard Shaw
(see Making Miles: Week 39)
In other words, the secret acts like a mirror.
To live a successful life means creating our own reality, and doing so deliberately by using the power of thought.
You’ve probably picked it up from Chablani’s illustration, as well as from your own observations throughout the history of mankind: The road to success is, more often than not, a long and lonely one.
As someone who is prone to overthinking, I believe that I’ve created my everyday reality and am responsible for all my setbacks. It’s comforting to say personal achievements out loud, yet looking forward, it’s all too scary to realize them in the first place.
How you decide to succeed, therefore, makes all the difference.
Right now, at 23, I’m lucky to say that the rest of my life still offers a relatively thick block of blank canvas for me to fill. Because I’m aware that every decision I make, both the major and the minor ones, will eventually make a life that constitutes the sum total of my thoughts, I intend to exceed fulfilling my needs by going after my wants quietly.
I envision a life brimming with abundance of my own ideals, and by ideals, I don’t see material gains as much as I see time-tested virtues I particularly value become practiced and crystallized into reality, namely integrity and perseverance.
I’ve had enough of feeling guilty for rejecting others for fear of the attempt. Reframing fear as a motivator and maintaining love as my drive has served me well so far.
I hold Bob Dylan’s definition of success true, which I also believe was a precursor to Steve Jobs’ lifetime achievements as a father, a brother, a husband, a thinker, an innovator, and a hungry fool: “What is money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
Oh, what freedom it is to desire what you already have.
“Success is going to bed at night in peace,” affirmed Stanley to me once, and I couldn’t agree with him more.
So tell me: What does success mean to you? Share your story on the comments section below
- Image courtesy of Big Think