What is the definition of success? How does one measure success? Can successes of two different people be compared? How to be successful?
It’s safe to say that at some point in our lives we have been troubled by one or more of the above questions. Some of you must have already ridiculed these questions thinking that there is no one correct answer to each question owing to its inherent subjectivity. But, here’s the catch. If you want to be successful, sufficient thought should have gone into familiarizing yourself with YOUR version of the answers.
Reduced to its most generic form, the measure of success is “happiness”. If a person is happy with the way his life is progressing, he is successful. The subjectivity lies in the definition of happiness. Being rich might be a driving force for Mr. Falana whereas being satisfied with her current job (even if it comes at the cost of a higher salary) can be all that Ms. Dhimkana wants. Wise people are those who decide very early on in their career what is the type of fuel which is going to propel their car because they understand that it is usually not possible to achieve all combinations of money, work-life balance, power, fame, etc. at the same time.
I can tell you my story of how I found my definition of happiness. Right after my graduation in 2015, I joined one of India’s largest construction companies Larsen & Toubro (L&T). My first posting was in Muscat, the capital city of a gulf country called the Sultanate of Oman where I was going to work on the construction of a 5-star hotel for Marriot. I was well aware of the world I was stepping into. My seniors from college had warned about the harsh work timings and the huge amounts of stress which an average employee goes through. Yet, it was the first company I got placed in through a campus interview and I did not want to let go off the opportunity. Yes, I agree I wasn’t brave enough to say no to the job then but, to be honest, I didn’t really know what else to do had I rejected the offer.
Anyway, coming back to Muscat. I was fortunate enough that a vacancy showed up in the Planning department and I was made the scheduler of the project instead of being directly dumped on the site which is where most of the fresh entrants into the company end up being thrown. To give an idea to the non-construction guys reading this article, the Planning department is considered to be the heart of the project. All the background work starting from deciding which activity is going to start/end on which day to ordering the material required to processing all the contractual work with the various vendors used to happen in that one small room with a team of 6 people. The amount of professional exposure I was getting was enviable.
But, the excitement of learning something new begun to wear off sooner than I expected it to. On average, we worked 12 hours a day for 6 days a week. The three most exciting parts of my day were breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, that’s how sad my life was! I always used to wonder why someone was willing to slog their ass off devoting so little time to their personal lives. The only answer I could think of was the high salary. As a fresher I was being paid almost 1 lakh a month, so you can imagine what the senior staff must have been earning. L&T consisted mainly of employees who were willing to make this trade-off with the money. Their life revolved completely serving the company with special efforts put into chaplusi (flattery of the higher level bosses). The problems I mention here are not directed specifically towards L&T but to many multinational companies with a similar work culture. At that point, I was sure of 2 things. One was that I enjoyed the nature of my work per se. I saw great scope for learning every day. The second aspect I was sure of is that I was not going to be enticed into slavery for life. That day I decided that my yardstick for measuring the degree of success is a healthy work-life balance. WHAT’S YOURS???
Written by Saurabh Varanasi