If Success Had a Colour, it Would be Grey
By Nethmi Aloka Ceylon Today Features
‘Achieving success’ or ‘being a successful person’ probably the two most commonly seen phrases on anyone’s ‘bucket list’ or in a teenager’s point of view, ‘things to do before I die’ list. The word ‘success’ itself may sound quite overwhelming at first and it’s ironical how most of us blindly claim to want it without even understanding the meaning behind it. In modern context what makes a person successful seems to be the million-dollar question and the cold hard truth is that there really isn’t a straightforward answer to this question.
What most people fail to realise is that the perspective of success may vary from person to person or generation to generation. People in the past had a different point of view about it compared to us and the people after us will have another point of view on it. To prove this fact let me take you on a small journey.
Now close your eyes and imagine yourself stranded in a vast desert. You’re walking endlessly through mountains of sand and rough wind. You want to give up but you swallow up your dry spit and you keep on moving forward. Alas! A sight for sore eyes! After overcoming so many difficulties you have finally reached the sea. You run towards it, but then suddenly you stop in the middle of your tracks. The sea seems rougher and even more terrifying than the desert was. You look behind your shoulder and find that the path you once walked on has become a sea of your own blood, sweat and tears. Right in front of you was the place you strived to reach and now you’re here. You should be happy, but instead you feel empty. It didn’t quite turn out to be what you expected and you may even have a slight feeling of disappointment lingering. Why can’t I enjoy it as it is? I struggled so much to get here but where’s the applause? Why didn’t it turn out the way I expected it to? Is this really the end result?
The concept of success isn’t black or white. Most people point it out to be something along the lines of “either you achieve something or you don’t”. The truth is however the concept of success is grey. Allow me to elaborate.
One misconception is that people often confuse success with perfection. The definition of perfection can change from one person’s perspective to another. Perhaps you completed some sort of task but it didn’t quite turn out as you expected it to, that doesn’t mean that it’s a failure at all. Maybe things came out slightly different than you hoped they would but that’s completely fine. What matters is that you somehow managed to do it. Sometimes it’s alright to accept the phrase ‘done is better than perfect’. You managed to complete something in your own beautiful and unique way and you deserve to experience that sense of accomplishment no matter what anyone says. Perhaps it didn’t go according to the usual plot people expected, ‘Cross the desert, reach the sea. Happily, ever after’. However, that doesn’t make it any less of an achievement because you still made it to the sea. It still counts. It still matters and you need to accept that.
Another commonly accepted fact about success is the so-called “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”. In certain cases, there can be some sort of a gain in the end, but sometimes we just have to accept that there may not be a big grand prize waiting for us to win in the end. Sometimes it’s the process of doing something that really matters. You don’t climb a mountain expecting a trophy on top of it, but you climb it for the experience of climbing. We shouldn’t do something expecting a round of applause at the end, but for our own personal growth and to gather experience. After finally reaching the sea you come to realise that maybe it isn’t as appealing as it once was. You’re perhaps even slightly underwhelmed or disappointed by the end result. If you actually think about it, the experience you went through while crossing the desert, the struggle you went through and the physical trials your body had to endure, created a certain level of personal growth within you and thus makes it more valuable than the end result itself.
Then finally we have the most traditional concept of success. The one most of us is aware of and the one we’ve probably heard many people emphasise. The fact that no one truly knows about the struggle you went through to achieve something except for you. Just because this concept is traditional doesn’t make it wrong at all but quite the opposite as a matter of fact. You may have even made several sacrifices along the way to achieve something but no one knows of it except for you. People only see the final outcome of something or rather the tip of the iceberg but may be completely clueless as to all the effort that went towards achieving it. No one knows that you had to go through so many problems to cross the desert. They only know that you reached the sea.
All in all, what I wanted to point out is that ultimately your definition of success is based on your own level of satisfaction. Your satisfaction is what matters the most. It could be that you are satisfied by the way you somehow managed to complete something, not quite the way as expected but in your own unique way. It could be that you are satisfied by the process of doing something rather than expecting a big prize or round of applause at the end. It could also be the fact that you are proud of how you managed to achieve something even after going through struggles that only you are aware of. This is where the true sense of achievement lies, and this is why the concept of success will forevermore be not black, not white, but grey.