You Need to Stop Fake Success to be Really Successful

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Fake Success!! Can Success be FAKE?

Let us see.

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868–1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own perceptions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Fake success is like this overflowing cup filled with our perceptions and speculations which prevent “real” thoughts to enter in our mind. We often don’t realize that our present definition of success is not necessarily our own –it is imposed on us by the popular culture.

The definition of success on us is foisted on us so subtly that we often don’t even think that our definitions of success might not be our own.

And when that happens we are doomed to failure even before we embark on the path to achieving success.

These glamorous definitions then push us towards impulsive action whereas achieving success requires the ability to subordinate impulse to purpose. Buying uncritically into glamorized definitions of success can erode not just our bank account but also our productivity potential.

That brings us to the fascinating study conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel on Grabbers and Resistors.

Grabbers and Resistors

In the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel and others started a study of four-year-old children at a preschool on the Stanford University campus. The four-year-olds were offered a proposal involving getting a candy. If they could wait for about twenty minutes till the person giving the candy returned after doing a small task, they would get two candies.

If they couldn’t wait till then, they would get only one candy — but they would get it instantly. Most of the children impulsively grabbed the candy even while the experimenter was leaving the room.

A few tolerated the seemingly endless wait by covering their eyes so as to not see the temptation, resting their heads in their arms, talking to themselves, singing, playing games with their hands and feet, even trying to go to sleep.

The “determined” resistors got 2 candies and the “even more determined” ones even waited beyond 20 minutes to check if their candy count can increase further.

A Decade later

A decade later, the difference between the two groups of adolescents was dramatic.

The resistors were -:

· Found more resilient and less susceptible to succumbing to stress.

· They were found to enjoy challenges without giving up.

· They were more independent and confident in their demeanor

· They turned out to be trustworthy friends

· They turned out to have clear, well-defined goals to pursue

In contrast the grabbers were-:

· Easily frustrated by failures.

· Not able to handle stress and indulging in self-pity

· Prone to mistrustful of not getting enough “opportunities”

· Likely to get into fights and arguments

· Lacked clear goals in their lives

Another Decade later

Another decade later, the difference between the two groups was poles apart

The resistors were -:

· Found to have exceptional leadership qualities

· They were masters in articulating ideas into words

· They were master communicators

· Their every decision was based on reason and logic

· They were eager to learn new things.

In contrast the grabbers were-:

· Found to be weak decision makers

· Not able to take risk and articulate ideas

· They were weak planners and lacked concentration

· Unable to put off gratification

· Lacked discipline and restraint in their lives

So, in a nutshell, the resistors turned out to be highly successful leaders in their respective fields.

Bringing it all together

Summarizing the results of this study, psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence remarks, “There is perhaps no psychological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse.” So delaying impulse is a vital psychological skill for successful leaders. And yet delaying impulse is antithetical to the contemporary culture, whose operational mantra seems to be “Buy now” or “Just do it.”

The point to be noted here is that resisting impulses does not mean “not being ambitious”. The idea is to use our energy constructively and prevent misdirection by getting influenced by unimportant things which our perception and prevailing culture glamorizes as important. Once we focus our energies only on the REAL IMPORTANT things, success is bound to happen.

As aptly told by Lindsey Wixson

Real success is not, like, materialistic. It’s being where you want to be when you want to be; just living your life how you feel; having an ultimate goal and being able to accomplish it.


· Developing the Leader Within You, John C Maxwell

· Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman

· Good to Great, James Collins

· Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

· 10 Leadership Sutras from Bhagavad Gita,Charan, Chaitanya.

About the author-:
Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

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