‘Gloomy Skyline of Berlin’ - Painting by M Bleichner
‘Gloomy Skyline of Berlin’ - Painting by M Bleichner

It has been a series of fortuitous events and impetuous decisions that has led me to where I am in my career. About two years ago, I had decided to abandon an idle existence and put myself out in what some call the ‘real world’. The idea, back then, was to cultivate pragmatic skills and be successful in the trade of my choosing. Two years later, I am still as troubled as I was back then and perhaps even more so. I have never subscribed to the dogma of finding and following one’s passion. There is no such thing. As Cal Newport puts it-

Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

But in the sprint to success, there’s no prize for being good or even the best. None at all. At the 2008 summer Olympics, Usain Bolt had sufficiently established that he was the fastest man on Earth. Yet, he had to come back and do it all over again in 2012. Setting the precedent is not enough. It has to be upheld over and over again with possibly more resolve each consecutive time. V.S. Pritchett, in an essay on the English historian Edward Gibbon, observed that-

Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.

It is only now becoming apparent to me that absolute success, vernacularly referred to as ‘making it’, is an urban myth. It is deceptive like the mirage in a desert. The thirsty traveller toils in its allure only to find it to be a figment of his imagination. His only consolation lies in carrying on and doing this over enough times to ‘make it’ out of the desert. William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of Vanity Fair, succinctly puts it as-

Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do. The successful people don’t always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them.”

The utopian dream I had dreamt two years ago is a testament to my naïveté. There is no grand moment of arriving, not now, not ever. It is but a grind and you hustle hard everyday or you go home. Success is not an act, it is a habit.