People who come to relish my shade and devour the soft murmur of my leaves often ask me, "Tell me Wise tree, what is success?" and drawing on my years of having being around, I humbly tell them this....
“Success means different things to different people. For many, success means being rich; having the best houses, cars and all the fancy things in the world. For many others it means having status and power. Some want to be famous and to be recognized the world over. But does gaining money, assets and fame make one happier? Does it assure one peace of mind”?
Moreover, what is success if not peace and happiness?
Even if you make lot of money, you will find that there are many others richer than you are. If you gain status and get into the inner circle of society, you will find that there are smaller circles within, that enjoy more power and fame than you do. Once you realise this, you will go all out to gain more money and fame and the more you get, the more you understand that you are far from being the richest or the most famous. You will end up on the treadmill of life, which will not take you to the frontiers even if you try your very best. Finally, you slip down, tired and beaten. Lying there, in your sunset years you will realize that your definition of success was all wrong and will wish for one more chance to start afresh.
If money and fame brought happiness, why are there so many celebrities who are depressed? Why are there so many millionaires who are into drugs and alcohol and are committing suicide? Isn't it obvious to you that the paths to the mountain peaks of success and happiness are different?
Then who are successful? They are those who get a chance to follow their talents. Those who are passionate about something and who are doing what they love. Those who are doing things that make a difference in the lives of others find the ultimate peace and happiness. It is when you use the faculties given to you by providence, in the service of others that your life becomes meaningful.
Why do we love and revere Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa? They were far from rich. Yet they are respected and were immensely powerful. Why is it that the generosity and wisdom of Asoka has outlived the magnificence of Asoka the warrior king? Why is it that when the rich and famous is forgotten, selfless souls who strive to reach out to others live on forever? The billionaire Bill Gates will surely leave a legacy--not for building up a successful company, but for using his fortune to help the needy.
We have to revisit our ambitions. Let us become doctors who will save the ones in pain. Let us become engineers who will build homes for the needy, chefs who will feed the hungry, journalists who will speak the truth. It is the significance of what we do that gives us relevance. Let us all strive to use our abilities and talents to solve at least one problem that our world has. And in that journey, make this world a trifle better than how it was when we were born.
The famous author Robin Sharma asks, "Who will cry when you die?” Let me rephrase that to "Who will remember you and pray for you when you die?" If we lead our lives trying to answer this question, then status will automatically come to us. Our lives will become richer. And we will be in a position to leave this world without any regrets. Isn't this my brothers and sisters, true success?