What is the first word that comes to your mind when you meet success? Is it ‘celebration’?
When you go through a nerve-wrecking phase with the goal to achieve success, the natural reaction is to savour every second of it when it comes and bask in the rain of self-praise. The more the heat in the milk, better the taste of tea. To the degree you are subjected to heat (like a tea bag), to that degree you become desperate to taste the resultant success. Many times, that desperation to celebrate becomes the very noose that strangles your success and converts it into an embarrassing failure.
In the Mahabharata, when the six Maharathi warriors slaughtered Abhimanyu mercilessly and unethically, his father Arjuna became furious. When he learnt that Jayadrata was responsible for his death, Arjuna instantly took a vow to eliminate him by sunset the next day failing which he would self-immolate. This news sent a wave of joy in the Kaurava camp. All Jayadrata had to do was to keep himself concealed till sunset and success would be his, and death would be Arjuna’s. The next day, Arjuna had to literally fight across a sea of warriors to reach his well-hidden target. By then, the sun had already began setting.
When the first hint of success peeped in with the apparent setting of the sun, Jayadrata jumped out of cover anxious to celebrate his success and express the end of his desperation. In that desperation to celebrate his success, Jayadrata had overlooked the fact that the sun had set too early that day. Krsna, knowing the mindset of those who look at success as a chance to celebrate, had deceived him into thinking that the sun had set. Jayadrata began to dance around the battlefield gleefully expressing his victory over Arjuna. That celebration cost him his life and his head rolled off.
On the ladder of success, the lower rungs are tests of your ability to handle failures and higher rungs are tests of your ability to handle successes. The seasons of success are windier and more turbulent then the seasons of failure. Tasting success without the humility to handle it is like a man who is enthusiastic to eat a heavy meal without the ability to digest it.
When the Pandavas achieved unparalleled success by becoming the kings of the world, they chose to receive their success with sobriety. They invited all the great sages and Krsna, wanting to serve them and invoke their blessings. Instead of looking at success as a chance to celebrate, they regarded it as an opportunity to serve.
When we look at proximity to success as a chance to celebrate like Ravana and Jayadrata, our success will morph into a failure. When we look at success as an opportunity to serve like the Pandavas, we accumulate blessings that sustain our success.
Premature celebration eventually leads to failure and embarrassments. The best way to celebrate success is by constantly realigning yourself with the purpose behind the success. Success means service; service means blessings and blessings ensure continued success. Enjoy success privately and celebrate failure publicly.
(The writer is an author, Tedx speaker, story-teller, corporate trainer and visiting faculty in several premier management schools)