Far from the shallows: The irony of goodwill

At the recent ITCH summit, we had so many personalities from diverse backgrounds and different dreams coming on one platform to talk about their lives because they have finally understood that success and failure are the same fraud — they are not permanent.

Success passes, failure passes and all that remains at the end of it is the value that you add to your life—and to everybody else’s. If the value is only for yourself, then the world does not acknowledge you. In life we all search for something—for a dream. It starts by looking into a mirror and saying, ‘I don’t know…I want to know’. The beauty of that is that 99% of people in this world convince themselves they already know. The journey starts for that 1% that looks into the mirror. They are special because they are learning all the time because they are open to it.

The three words—‘I don’t know’, are so critical in the beginning of your life’s journey. So what keeps you from admitting you don’t know? It’s that our society considers failure as a stigma. The moment you grow out of that and you really study people who have succeeded, you find that they failed 20-30 times before they actually succeeded. The only difference is that they never gave up.

What does success give you that makes you so arrogant? And why does failure make you suicidal? Treat them both the same way. The only thing that’s permanent is the value that you create. No, that isn’t a mystical way of looking at it. Two and two has to be 22 and not 4, because 4 is mediocre! When you’re on your journey, you cannot imagine how to get to 22 but when it’s done you realise, ‘Wow, I got a 16 or a 12 or an 8 or an 18’. You’ve created a value which is more than 4!

And that is your value — you can put your name on it, take it home, carry it to the grave. And you can even trade in it. But there’s an addendum to the trade…When you create value for others it’s called your goodwill. But you can encash it for yourself only once — and then you have to start building your goodwill all over again.

Ironically, your goodwill has the power to do good for other people; not for yourself. So, you can ask a hundred favours for somebody else and when you don’t ask for anything in return for yourself, your goodwill remains undiminished. I do it all the time. It gives me so much pleasure to be able to help people out, off the cuff, because it’s effortless. And it’s important not to keep score. You’ve done it, you move on, next. Make demands of them, and you will lose them.

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