Focus only on the effort and leave the outcome to Life.
A young reader, who wrote to me on Facebook Messenger after reading my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal, asked me this question: “How do you stay motivated and retain that urge to succeed when you have been dubbed a failure by the whole world?”
That’s a very interesting question.
To be sure, for the longest time I would cringe when people called Vaani or me a failure. A friend, who is also a head hunter, once told me that no company will respect Vaani and me because we are “failed entrepreneurs”. A wealthy businessman has told me on my face that he wouldn’t want to associate with us in public because we have a “negative net worth”! These remarks used to affect me a lot. I would cook within – seething with rage, feeling helpless because all our efforts to fix our business were coming to a naught.
But through consistent reflection, during my daily mouna (silence period) sessions, I realized that success and failure, victory and defeat, win and loss – all these are mere social labels. They are imposters – they will come and they will go; they are not going to stay with us forever.
In reality, all of us have only choices, to act in a given situation or not to act. When we act and the outcomes match our expectations, we call it success. When the outcomes fall below our expectations we call it failure. But the truth is that our choice of action – or inaction, as the case may be – is far more important than the outcome itself. Which is why the Bhagavad Gita invites us to focus on our effort, on the action, and to leave the result, the outcome, to Life.
So, I would say that we must exercise our choice of action and learn from the experience that leads to the outcome. It is when you are attached to the outcome that you invite ego and suffering. You turn egoistic when the outcomes match or exceed your expectations. You suffer when they don’t. So why go through this up and down cycle? Why not simply be focused on the action and leave the outcomes to happen in their own way? And whatever is the outcome, the way it is, simply accept it – without qualifying it as good, bad or ugly. At the end of the day, nothing is good, nothing is bad, nothing is won, nothing is lost, no one succeeds, no on fails. Life is just a series of experiences that you learn from.