“What if I go after what I love and fail?” is a question I hear often when I converse with people about success in life. And for those who have read the first part of the success vs. failure series know that success depends on its definition. When someone defines success as doing something that he or she loves then how can he or she not be a success just by doing that no matter how other things turn out? What does one mean by “fail”? Does he or she mean losing time, losing money, losing people, or losing love?
If you define success by having more money then losing money is definitely a failure. But when you talk about losing time if you define success as doing what you love, how can you lose time? You did what you loved and that is already a success no matter how other things turn out. If you look from that perspective not doing something that you love doing is already a failure no matter what you are doing right now, no matter how much money you have or how high your social status is.
Some say that in order to be successful you have to figure out what people want and then give them that. There are two things to address here. First, people want lots of things that are hurting them like cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food. Will you give them those and other poisons? “But if I won’t give them those, someone else will, so it doesn’t matter. They will get what they want either way.” Sure they will. But the real question is are you fine to provide people what they want no matter how bad that is for them? When you start from the other perspective of doing what you love you have a much bigger chance of helping people rather than hurting them.
Secondly, there is already an abundance of everything in the world. No matter what field you are working in, are trying to change for the better, or want to be successful in, there is nothing really missing. The market doesn’t eagerly await what someone has to offer especially if there are already a hundred similar products or services there. And if that field is not your passion, your contribution to it will be small either way.
I believe we only have two main paths in life. The easy path and the right path. Most people choose the easy one which is tiptoeing through life from birth to death and leaving the smallest possible imprint in the world, the smallest possible contribution to one’s surroundings, and the smallest possible change in oneself.
The right path is a complete opposite of that. It’s the one that truly feels right to you and is the most in harmony with you. It usually seems irrational, senseless, illogical, foolish, scary, and yet it’s the one that calls for you. So for me, success means I am walking the right path and failure means I am walking the easy path. In the end, I would like to leave you with the words of Howard Thurman who said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”