The Future Is Promised To No One

In all your wisdom, you never really know what’s in store for you. There is seldom an assurance that you will achieve what you aspire for, much less within the timeframe that you intended.

With all this uncertainty how do some people manage to achieve goals in a matter of months that others may not achieve in years? What makes high performers? What qualities do people who are really successful have that are different from the others?

And, when I say successful, I don’t mean in material terms alone. A person could be very wealthy and still miserable, while another may not have so much wealth but be happy and living a life on his or her own terms.  Who is to say which of these two persons, is more successful. The one that has amassed material wealth alone, or the one who is living life more holistically?

1. The IT Industry Paradox

Let me explain with an example. When I look at the IT industry where I have spent the best part of my life, there are some very redeeming factors that can be powerful motivators. At the same time, there are factors that can vitiate the quality of life completely, if they are not dealt with properly.

On the positive side, people working in this industry get to travel to multiple countries, work with accomplished people from different cultures, get to experience life in other countries and work in an aesthetic environment compared to working in other environments, say a factory. Add to that, the incredible opportunities to learn and grow. These can be powerful motivators to work in this industry.

Conversely, anyone working in this industry has to be prepared to work across multiple time zones, abandon the notion of 9 to 5 working, learn to manage the pressure of client deadlines and sacrifice work-life balance to some extent.

As you move up the hierarchy the time you have available for yourself and your family shrinks significantly while the perks and compensation expand exponentially.

This is where the paradox emerges. People who are doing very well in this industry and who are well adjusted, emerge as winners all the way, enjoying their work and finding some balance in their personal lives as well. On the other hand, people who are focused only on the financial part of the equation, end up compromising their personal lives, eroding their health living under constant pressure and uncertainty and end up frustrated regardless of what they have managed to earn.

So, the ability to manage the dynamics of this industry and not lose out on the balance in life becomes the key to success here. Leaders are a master at this and manage the industry dynamics, their work and personal lives very well, giving due importance to all that is important.


2. The Tipping Point For Exponential Growth

In August 2016, I published a post on LinkedIn called – Is something holding you back? Normally when my earlier posts were featured on two or three LinkedIn channels, it would get something like 3000 views and about 200 likes or so on the first day of posting. However, when this post got featured on four LinkedIn channels, I saw a significant difference on the very first day when my views went up to 5000 and likes crossed 1000, all in one day.

The point is – my writing follows a pattern so there is usually no startling difference despite the topic changing. However, the addition of one more channel made a huge difference to the number of people who got to see the article, which led to a surge in views and likes.

Sometimes your career has similar tipping points where everything you did before changes suddenly and your life may not be the same anymore. It is not necessary that the opportunity you get should be significantly different.

Successful leaders can not only spot a tipping point in their life but also prepare for it in anticipation so that when it arrives they waste no time in capitalising on it.

What really matters is your instinct to sense a great opportunity and your initiative to take it up, when the most comfortable thing would be to let it pass! Successful leaders, on the other hand, have a great sense of conviction that allows them to not only motivate themselves but also keep others motivated in the pursuit of goals that call for protracted efforts.


3. Out Of Big Risks Come Bigger Opportunities And Success

If you look at successful people around you, one thing you will find stands out. These are all people who have taken big risks in their lives and were not just content with pursuing security of income, relationships and location or in any other form and were willing to live their lives one day at a time.

The billionaire Bill Gates took a quantum risk while founding Microsoft. He had to drop out of college in order to help create Microsoft. He took a huge risk, starting his business based on his vision that the personal computer would be a useful tool in every office and home. It is the same with just about anyone who has made it big in life.

Elon Musk with a net worth of $12.4 billion is another person who personifies this. Elon Musk is trying to redefine transportation on earth and in space. Through Tesla Motors he is aiming to bring fully-electric vehicles to the mass market; at SpaceX he launches satellites and is working to send humans to other planets.

So if you are looking to achieve something big, be open to embracing change and taking on quantum risks!


4. Ability To Walk Away From Large Sums Of Money Or Income To Do What You Think Is Right

Two things define a person – your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything

People who have the conviction to back their judgment and the courage to walk way from great personal benefits, also have the capacity to achieve big. Many a time big pursuits call for protracted efforts with no certainty of outcomes. When you are faced with this situation the natural option is to take a path of certainty even if it is mediocre as it minimises risks considerably. Taking the more arduous path calls for the courage of conviction and the willingness to put sustained efforts with no assurance of outcomes.

You cannot be a successful leader if you cannot back your own judgment and take tough decisions that may at times call for you to walk away from present benefits for future gains.

If your tendency is to take whatever comes your way with the least uncertainty and risk, then what you achieve could be limited. While this is not an issue if you are happy with it, however, if you have bigger aspirations, then you will definitely need to work at raising your risk taking ability.

Patience is a virtue that is not very common. We live in a world of instant gratification and for anyone to let go of a lucrative opportunity, is often unthinkable.  But if you really have a clear idea of what you want and what is unacceptable to you then the ability to walk away from lucrative opportunities when it is not aligned with your values or is contrary to what you are willing to do, can be a powerful enabler for your success.

The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money




About the Author:

Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.

Srinivasan R

Management Consultant at Independent Consultant