Real achievement lies in knowing that there’s nothing to achieve

When you realize that Life is not about achieving anything, but is about experiencing everything that comes your way, you can say you are awake, aware and enlightened!

I have a very close friend who is much older than I am. I will call him ABB. He’s the consummate networker, yet he’s a very genteel person – someone who goes out of his way to help people. He has served the Indian Air Force and post his voluntary retirement, he has been a very active member of the corporate circuit in Hyderabad. He’s been an office bearer of many an industry body or management association. And has been a champion of several voluntary causes in South India. I have known him for over 2 decades now. And he has always left me inspired with his energy and enthusiasm. Even so, he’s extremely modest about his achievements and truly believes that he’s just an ordinary person – which is why I have chosen not to name him, but have just used his initials, so as not to embarrass him. I was in touch with him recently and he had this to say about Life, at 72, for him: “I am not looking at name or fame. If some work or request comes my way and I feel like doing it, I do it. I have nothing to prove, nothing to achieve, nothing to grab!

I took away a profound learning from his simple expression: “Nothing to prove. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to grab!” The way we are conditioned – both by our upbringing and through social demands and pressures – we are always doing just the opposite. It is almost as if, if you are not driven, you are wasting your Life. And the word “driven” itself is misunderstood. It has come to mean – prove yourself through your feats, your achievements, your assets, your wealth, your estates. Whereas, we should have been driven by an urge to live fully, to enjoy and celebrate the gift of this lifetime. But in order to prove ourselves, we are postponing living all the time. Osho, the Master, explains the fallacy of living this way and champions living enlightened: “Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is an understanding that there is nothing to achieve, nowhere to go.” Beautiful!

Several years ago, as a young business journalist, I had the rare privilege of interviewing R.Thiagarajan, the chairman of the Shriram Group of companies. I had asked Thiagarajan why his Group was structured the way it was – with no “famous or well known” people heading its various companies. Thiagarajan replied: “Fame is not a criteria for creating value. Ownership and passion are. The people in our Group have lots and lots of that.” When I think back about that conversation, I realize how much power there is in knowing the meaning of the word achievement. We associate the word achievement to something material all the time. But real achievement lies in knowing that there’s nothing to prove to anyone, that there’s nothing to achieve in a material sense, and, yet, that we must do everything within our means to live Life to our fullest potential at all times! When you employ this knowledge you end up creating value – Thiagarajan is the most understated leader in corporate India today, yet the Group of companies he leads are the largest and the most profitable in each industry segment they operate in. To be sure, the Group’s various CEOs, like Thiagarajan, are extremely media-shy, modest and relatively unknown.

The key to intelligent living lies in internalizing ABB’s and Thiagarajan’s philosophies. It means to live Life fully, doing whatever you can with whatever you have in each moment, not really worrying about what you are achieving. When you begin walking, often, the road unfolds on its own. When you let go and live, driven by the urge to live fully, and not by material goals, always, Life takes care of all that it has created. And that includes you – and me!