How chasing success makes it harder to find
In all of Hercules's adventures, his most challenging job was a cleaning one. It wasn't him killing the man-eating Nemean lion. Or killing the nine-headed hydra. Or even spending a year catching a hind. Heck, I can keep mentioning jobs that sound harder than cleaning.
But the cleaning job assigned to Hercules was impossible.
So what made this job particularly difficult?
It was cleaning a stable of 3,000 cattle who excreted poisonous feces. And Hercules only had 24 hours to do this. I don't know which part is worse, dealing with toxic crap or completing a multi-year job in a day.
Despite this problem, Hercules had to figure out a solution.
He knew he couldn't manually clean up the feces; otherwise, he would die from the poison. And he knew that cleaning the stable by himself would take years.
So what was Hercules to do?
Well, he noticed two nearby rivers and thought up a plan. Using his god-like strengths, he quickly dug ditches on both sides of the stables. Then diverted each river into one of the ditches. The water from the rivers rushed through the trenches and burst into the stable.
Cleaning the entire stable at once.
And giving Hercules the timely completion of this job. Even though this labour had a happy ending. It still goes down as the labour closest to being impossible.
Learning to let go of your need for success can feel just as impossible as cleaning those stables. And as I hate to say this, it's not our fault.
The media conditions us to chase the goal of being a success. Whether making an uber amount of money, getting an uber amount of lovers, or being the wunderkind. Whatever piece of media you find, you will see this shallow idea of success pushed on us.
As a result, we adopt them into our psyche.
And all we're thinking about is finding success, even though we're not sure what it is or how to get it. But this problem is that we waste time, energy, and money on something elusive.
But, it will be difficult finding success until we learn that it's okay to fail. The key to living a life full of success is accepting failure. But before I get into that, let's dive deeper into that faulty notion of failure not being an option.
What's the problem of failure not being an option?
Let me tell you something, I am not saying this is for 100% of all life cases. There are a few scenarios where failure is not an option. But these are situations where the results are irreversible. And for most of the things we engage in life, the consequences are not irreversible, which is what I am referring to.
Alright, with that out of the way, let's get to this point.
The problem with failure not being an option is your undue stress and expectations.
The majority of your thoughts are fixated on not failing, not making mistakes, or hiding errors. These and so many anxiety-filled questions start filling your head. As a result, you tense up, get nervous, become irritable, etc.
Leaving you not in your best state.
Which ironically only increases the chances of failure. If you think I'm making this up, think of times in your life when you focused on not failing.
I bet you had a cocktail of uncomfortable emotions which undermined your performance. Maybe this happened playing sports, taking an exam, or talking to a cute girl. Whatever it was, you knew you were not at your best, even though the failure was not an option.
Thinking that you need to succeed is not the best approach to life.
But what is then if you want to be a success?
Let's take a quick detour. In the NBA, there is a phrase called 'ice in your veins.' This means a person can handle intense moments, like game-deciding shots, without hesitation.
Now, these moments happen countless times during an NBA season. And usually by the same group of players. And these players sometimes get the shot and miss (including Michael Jordan). But the result is not what dictates if this group of players have ice in their veins.
And the reason for that is how they approach that game-deciding shot. These players are so cool and calm about it; they show their ability to handle these overwhelming scenarios.
The reason for bringing this up is that we need to take after these NBA players. And start having 'ice in our veins' when facing life. And to do that, we need to not care about the results of our endeavours.
Meaning being okay if failure happens.
By freeing ourselves from the results, specific positive changes will pop up.
How this approach changes your life
With our minds not focused on achieving success, we become free.
Free to act natural and in unison with mind, body, and spirit.
Whatever action you take, you will be relaxed, creative, courageous, etc. It's as if you are free from the chains of expectations/results and can live the way that feels natural to you.
Not caring about success increases your chances of success.
Success with being social.
Success with your goals.
Success with your career.
But why does this change happen?
When your mind is so fixated on the result, it disconnects from your body and spirit.
It's hard to explain, but I will use this analogy from Fear of Life by Dr.Mowen:
"Through his will man transcends his animal nature and creates cultures, but in the process, he separates himself from nature and becomes vulnerable to illness. That danger can be made clear if we compare the personality to a horse and ride. In this analogy, the horse represents the body while the ego is the horseman. When rider and horse are attuned to each other, like a cowboy and his mount, they can accomplish much and experience pleasure. But a rider who is insensitive to his horse can drive it into the ground. In this manner an ego that is out of touch with the body and under the pressure of a compulsive drive to succeed can push the body to a point where it will break down physically. If a rider is dissociated from his horse he will get thrown. An ego that is dissociated from the body cracks up."
As you can see, it's as if your mind/personality abuses the body to achieve something but ends up losing.
Yet we need to find the opposite of this.
It's the mind and body acting as one. And when this happens, you act naturally, giving you better results than when focused on success.
Without the burden of success, better things happen.
Heck, things become more enjoyable. Almost everything seems to be better in the process.
With this freedom doing those scary things seems exciting. Just allowing you to have more zest in life. It's crazy how much better life can be when your mind, body and spirit act as one.
But with this lack of focus on success, some people take it as me saying it's okay to be a chump.
I am not even saying it is okay to be a loser.
I was a loser for almost 10 years, and it sucked.
I am saying that if you want your life to be more fruitful, stop focusing on results. Sometimes you will win, and sometimes you will lose.
And that's life.
No matter how much you focus on success, you can't avoid failure at some point. And for the people who think success is only an option, loss crushes them more painfully and holds them down more than it should.
So still work hard, have high standards, and focus on the process. But let the results come as they may. As they say in The Bhagavad Gita:
“You have the right to work, but for the work's sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give way to laziness, either."
Life is random, so you don't know what it will give you. But if you focus on the things under your control.
You will never be a loser.
No matter how many failures or successes you have. Because you are showing, you are above the result. And like I said so many times in this newsletter, you will end up with more success than you could have imagined. And one thing I fantasize about a little too much is The Way of the Warrior.
The first step in becoming a samurai is accepting The Way of the Warrior. And one of the critical stipulations of The Way is the acceptance of death (which is the failure to win a battle).
Only a true samurai could accept death as part of the process and still continue with it. Musashi, the 16th-century sword saint of Japan, stated that samurais had to be ready to die at any moment.
This is despite all the training (physically, mentally, and spiritually). All the things meant to create an insurmountable samurai.
Yet, death had to be accepted as a possibility like success.
This was an essential aspect of The Way because not being fixated on the results allows your best fighting. Where mind, body, and spirit are one.
And this goes for us too.
To have a fun and good life, we need to adopt The Way and know that failure can happen. But that is not an excuse to keep developing ourselves constantly.
Heck, if we're lucky, we can be Musashi, who found success more times than he would like to admit.
Not making an effort for success.
One thing to be aware of is to not take this idea (or any idea) to the extreme. Sometimes people will interpret this as not making an effort since losing is acceptable.
As I mentioned with Musashi, you still make an effort in your life. Where you are working on becoming a better version of yourself. But don't put too much onus on the results. Choosing to lose is like giving up without trying.
And the real tragedy is not losing but not trying.
If there is anything else I want you to take away, the results don't define you but your actions. Again The Bhagavad Gita mentioned we have the right to labour.
Because in the end, our actions define us, not the results.
If Musashi got killed in one of his battles, it would not have taken away from being a fantastic samurai. Because all his training and self-development turned him into a great human being.
And the same can happen to you.
Don't choose to lose or focus on success too much. Just focus on you.
Life will surprise you when you follow this principle. And another surprise you will get is that this article is about to end. So let's get to the summary.
The problem with the idea of failure not being an option is that it undermines you from achieving success.
The approach to take is to not focus on the results.
This approach of not focusing on success allows you to be free in your actions.
This happens because you are no longer stressed or imprisoned by expectations.
This approach is not accepting yourself as a failure. But helping you focus on the things that matter, like your actions.
The Way of the Warrior stipulates to accept whatever results occur in the journey of the samurai.
Simple mistakes people accept as an opportunity to not make an effort. Since they are okay with failure. But, this is not an excuse to be a loser. Still work on yourself and live life. But don't focus on success/results.
This is another crucial article.
So keep this one safe when you feel like you're not getting the success you want. It's hard to remember that failure is not an option in this world. But that's not a good enough excuse to forget this fundamental idea.
Don't focus on the results.
Focus on developing yourself and be persistent. And trust me, you will become everything and more than you can imagine. Funny enough, people will be amazed by how you can get so much success. Almost as impressive as Hercules completing that impossible cleaning job.
Until next time,
The Charismatic Nerd