Education Article #10: For the Joy of Sharing

Operation ‘Success’ – The Components & Gears of Success

By Venkataraman L.N.

Venkat is the founder and CEO of Adaptive Instruction with corporate experience of more than 20 years. He recently setup his company which is mainly focused on school academic education at present, and he is also getting into training workshops and talks for professionals, young adults, and college students, He is a person with varied interests. He is a faculty in SIVA and teaches astrology to adults.


Operation ‘Success’ – The Components & Gears of Success

What is success and why should we define it? To a student, scoring an A+ grade would be a success. To a mother, giving food to a baby timely and ensuring it eats it would be a success. To a finance manager, meeting the yearly target for profits would be a success. Each person as per their work role and personal aspiration has a criterion for success. In most situations these goals are based on the combination of performance standards set by oneself and by an organization / others. In every case an individual must go through a learning and a self-improvement process to meet the goal or performance standard. While an organization (or the standard set by others as in sports records) sets the standards based on external outcomes, the learning process to meet these, demand individuals to perform with commitment, patiently deal with mistakes, maintain discipline in practice and so on. Hence success is not just an act of accumulating knowledge or reaching a number. It is a process of synergizing several mental faculties, and human values held together with a clear purpose. It then becomes a process of becoming a new person with self-awareness and practice driving the progress at each step. It is no wonder that success is always referred to as a journey than a result.


As a journey of self-discovery, success is a pursuit to realize one’s full potential – to be the best one could be in terms of character, skills, and performance. The goals, standards and purpose that inspire one to take this journey have a single end – to meet the needs of someone, a community or mankind at large. The value hence generated has a magnitude corresponding to the needs met by the success. Needs are often dictated by a problem to be solved. Problems come at every level from an individual to the global level. There are problems impacting the entire world such as a pandemic or global warming. There are those at a country level due to a war, conflict, or recession. There have been and still are many societal problems based on cultural, religious, race, and policy issues. Given this layered framework of needs and the corresponding value generation, success acquires various shades of criteria, standards, and experience.

As an individual, especially a young adult, success then could seem daunting and confusing – not knowing which challenge to take on and which purpose to fulfill while just beginning to discover oneself. It is important then to look at success as an experience and be able to define it for oneself based on the value one intends to generate given a personal level of self-awareness and skill expertise. There is no meaning in externally comparing the success of any two individuals based on popularity or numbers because it depends entirely on one’s individual definition of the success. Therefore, pursuing someone else’s outcomes as a measure of one’s success would be futile and disappointing.

The contentment and experience of success can still be the same despite difference in the value generated. Hence, a daughter taking care of her bed-ridden father is as much of a satisfying success as a Prime Minister stopping a warfare. Each at their level have a different problem to solve with a corresponding variance in the definition of success.

Now that the nature and measure of success is clearer in perspective, it is also important to understand the elements of progress that lead to success. Knowledge, practice, and the related increase in self-awareness must complement each other for progress to happen. Knowledge without practice is unusable and practice without knowledge is inefficient or counterproductive. And practice without increase in self-awareness means it is unengaging or insufficient in putting the knowledge to test. Only an increase in self-awareness in terms of where one stands in the test of knowledge through practice can trigger a change towards actions to become better. This triangle of knowledge, practice and self-awareness forms the foundation of understanding. Understanding, when applied to real-life problems develops skills paving the way towards achieving the set goal / standard / purpose.

Since the success in generating value by solving problems or improving performance leads to a corresponding inner evolution – the individual and societal growth go hand in hand. It is hence critical for the growth of society for individuals to be clear with their definitions of success and to commit towards it to bring the value envisioned. As we grow inwardly and succeed in solving problems, our capabilities increase to take on bigger problems. Thus, our growth continues further only if a cycle of success towards a goal is followed by another goal to succeed on. This helps to keep evolving ourselves in career as well as life because there is no end to our capacities to learn and generate value. Every individual must awaken to their purpose in life and work towards it bound in their definition of success at every stage of their inner evolution.

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Kritika Mahajan
Kritika Mahajan
September 16, 2022 11:43 am

Well said, Success is a journey of self – discovery. Indeed, a good read that reminds us to look upto “Back to Basics” approach.