The Success Equation


You’ve heard all kinds of success stories, haven’t you? Mostly of dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerburg. These are probably THE most famous stories everyone you know is going to talk about, when talking about success. But where does it all start?

Let me tell you about a few marginally smaller scenarios that I think you’d be able to relate to, when talking about success. Driving the car hoping you find your parking spot today. Reaching the platform hoping you don’t miss the local train. Hoping to get the first elevator as you get in the building so that you don’t need to wait for the next one. Going to a bar/restaurant hoping to get the right table, or even to a theatre hoping to get good seats. Making a creative video and hoping to get it viral. Making a clever status update/tweet hoping to get a lot of likes/favorites/retweets. Writing a blog hoping to get some traction (but I’m just trying to express myself).

In all the above scenarios, if you get what you’re really hoping for (sure that’s a lot of hoping right?), it clearly suggests that being successful is all about doing the right thing at the right place at the right time, which we derive to call success. If you want the parking spot, getting there early would increase your probability of finding the spot. If you want to catch the train, you first have to see when’s the right time to reach the platform. There is no alternative. So, that suggests there are 3 variables to the equation of being successful. And here’s how I’d like to propose it:

Success = (right thing) x (right place) x (right time)

If you understand this basic functionality behind the mechanism of success, you can start building your growth graph.

“You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibilty for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.” — Austin Kleon

Here’s how success and luck are related

I totally agree, that luck is very much important to become successful. But what is it really? Now, luck, simply put, is a matter of chance. And to improve your chances of being lucky, you have to try out this formula with the right variables, until you get them right. You have to take your best calculated guess, and just get the ball rolling. It’s not just about startups or companies but you, as an individual, need to take this into consideration.

Now, whatever might be your definition of being successful, you have to keep in mind these 3 variables to achieve it. But firstly you have to ask yourself: “What does being successful look like to me?”. You should write the answer on a piece of paper.

Some people become successful in first thing they tried (0.0001%) and people start looking at them as lucky. Nailing down the right thing in the first time takes genius. But what it takes to become really successful is understanding that equation and trying to fit in the right variables everytime.

You just have to keep trying over and over again, to be called lucky.

Don’t talk about winning lotteries because it’s a game of randomness. Winning chances are much less then that of you getting hit by a lightning. If calling the winner, of lottery, “lucky” sounds right to you, would you call someone who got hit by the lightning “lucky” too? It’s just something that people have associated the word “lucky” with. Like if something good happens out of a sudden, it’s called a surprise; and if something bad, a shock. But if I ask you, do you like surprises?

You

How does one get these variables right?

Only the right ingredients can make your dinner delicious. But food experts sure know that they have to keep trying new recipes to come up with something different. Good or bad is just a perception.

These 3 variables keep changing rapidly. And change, by default, is not acceptable to humans. Thus, you have to try hard to keep at it. Keeping your approach lean; being open to new skills, techniques, processes can help you explore so much you cannot even think of.

When you answer what, where, and when, followed by how and explained by why, you create something remarkable.

Trying the same thing maybe in a different place or a different time. In most of the cases, you’re just too late and doing the same thing like everyone else even in the same place; or in some cases, the world isn’t just ready for what you’re trying to do. But if it does become ready one day, you’ll be one of the founding person of a new era.

Wanderer Above the Mist by Caspar David Friedrich

Don Norman is one of the example for the work I’m into. User experience design. He was the first person to coin the term “user-centered design”, and was the first person officially to get the title “User Experience Architect” by Apple in 1993. It takes courage to do things you’re truly fascinated by. Most of the people just settle for anything they can get during the wave. Now, he’s considered as one of the most influencial person in digital product design industry. And you can find such people in every other industry. There is always one person or a company that started doing something new and marked the beginning of a new era.

Now, doing something no one else is doing takes hard work and risk taking ability.

Here’s what Vinod Khosla (who, at the age of 20, failed at his first attempt to start a soy milk company to serve people in India who did not have refrigerators. He eventually started Daisy Systems and co-founded Sun Microsystems a few years later) has to say about risk and failure:

“Every time I fail at something, the press loves to write about it, but you shouldn’t let that scare you,” “Failure does not matter. People don’t remember your failures.”
“Most people do not do what they are capable of doing because of the fear of failure.” “It doesn’t matter what your probability of failure is. If there’s a 90% chance of failure, there’s a 10% chance of changing the world.” “I don’t mind failing, but if I succeed it better be worth succeeding for.” “I have seen too many startups where they have reduced risk to a point where they have a higher probability of succeeding, but if they succeed it is inconsequential.”
“The future will not be like the past. The future will be built by those who will take risks and action to invent the world they want.”

And that is why you need to keep making things you are passionate about. Because you believe in it. Maybe you’re in a job, but what’s stopping you to pursue that idea you can’t stop thinking about? It just takes extra effort to put in, after work, to make something new. Then comes the question you ask yourself: “How badly do I want this to happen?”

If you keep doing what most people do, you’re certain to get the mediocre results that most people get. And to have what only 5% of the population has, you must learn to do the things only 5% of the population does. — Robin Sharma

The graphical curve of the success equation can be exponential and we have seen a lot of people already nailing it. What did they do really? They made the right thing at the right place at the right time. Spot on. Perfect execution. But it’s not that they didn’t screw up a lot of times before or after that one thing. Here’s a small list of failures. 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First.

Everyone fails. But only the person who understands the power of preserverance and lean methodologies can win.

You can and should certainly live a happy and rich lifestyle, but just, don’t settle there. You are here for a bigger purpose. Create something that outlives you. Solve the equation. Create world history bigger than your browser history. Inspire and be inspired.

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Thank you for reading. I am Gaurav Baheti. Have a great week!