The secret of Success

Serious about getting ahead? Ask yourself these five tough questions by Rashmi Bansal.

brunch Updated: Mar 03, 2012 20:28 IST
Rashmi Bansal
Rashmi Bansal
Hindustan Times

There is a story about a young man, who – like all young men – wants to become a millionaire. So, he goes to see a wise guru. “Meet me at the beach tomorrow at 4 am,” says the wise guru, “And I will reveal the secret to success.”

So the next morning, the young man shows up on the beach at 4 am, wearing a suit and tie. The guru is already in the water and reluctantly, the young man wets his feet.

‘Whatever your plan or idea, it must be a burning desire’-Rashmi Bansal, Author

“Come out further,” the guru says.

“This is an expensive suit,” the young man replies, “I came here to learn the secret to success, not the secret to swimming.”

“The secret must be told in this water. It is your choice to learn the secret or not,” replies the guru.

So the young man goes waist-deep.

“Further,” the guru says.

So the young man wades deeper, until the water is up to his neck.

“Now tell me the secret,” the young man demands.

“Sure,” says the guru, and suddenly forces the young man’s head under the water.

The fellow resists and tries to push the guru off, but can’t. Just before the young man loses consciousness, the guru pulls him back up and asks a question:

“When your head was under water, what did you want to do?”

“I WANTED TO BREATHE,” the young man sputters.

“When you want success as much you wanted to breathe just now, then, and ONLY THEN, will you have success.”

The difference between people who are successful in life and those who aren’t can be summed up in one sentence: Successful people are always willing to get their suits wet.

A ‘suit’ is just a metaphor for your comfort zone. A belief or an idea that you hold dear. Perhaps you wanted to become an artist but you were conditioned to think: artists can never make money. To earn my living, I must be a doctor or engineer.

So that’s what you do with your life. You might make a lot of money. You might even be seen as ‘successful’ by the world. But deep inside your heart you know. This isn’t what you wanted. And if you didn’t get to live your life the way you wanted to, how the hell can it be a success? You are merely sitting on the shore, watching the waves of possibility. You accepted the role of an ‘extra’, when you could have chosen to be a star. But it’s never too late, to rewrite the script. Because the movie that’s playing out is your life. If you want success, you need to start by asking yourself some tough questions. Here are five of the most important ones.

1. How much do I really want it?

So you daydream about how your life could be or should be. But then you snap out of it and come back to ‘reality’.

That’s not good enough. Whatever your project, your plan, your idea – it must be a burning desire. You must want it so badly that it becomes a reality – at least in your own head.

When you hold a vision of that magnitude within you, it gives you courage. The courage you need to leave the safety of the shore, and wade into the unknown.


2. How far am I wiling to go?
You have a vision in your head, that’s great. But other people don’t see what you see. Can you deal with that?
The world is full of cynics and know-it-alls (and parents) who believe that things should remain just the way they are. You will have to turn your back on them all, knowing that you know better.

You have always been rewarded for ‘good behaviour’. Now, learn to seek out and stand up for your own good.

3. How long will I hold out?
Success doesn’t come in a day, in a month, or in a year. Rishis and munis stood on the mountain tops, on one leg, until Gods descended from the heavens.

Choose your mountain and choose which leg to stand on. Then be there, with utmost devotion and sincerity, for as long as it takes. That is tapasya – the passion for your work.

One day, you will open your eyes and ‘Success’ will be standing there, in front of you.

4. How does it make me feel?
Anything worth having takes blood, sweat and toil. But anything worth having also feels very good. And I don’t mean when you actually have it, but even as you sweat for it.

A life is enjoyed in its living, and not in some distant future moment of achievement. When you lose yourself in what you do, every moment is a luminous pearl.

Success is visible when you’ve strung all those pearls together, when the necklace is ‘complete’. But the process of creation is the real miracle.

5. How much further do you want to go?
You have name, fame, money, lifestyle and ‘success’ in your chosen field. Everything you ever dreamed of has come true, now what?
Yesterday you were nobody, today you have something to lose - your market cap, your popularity, your ‘price’ in the market.
The trouble is, the more you try to hang on to things outside of you, the more they weigh you down.
Success is ultimately about lightness of being. About peace and quiet, internal joy.

6. If you were to ‘lose it all’ – can you still preserve that state of mind?
Then you too will be a wise guru, beckoning young men and women into the water. To make their millions, then look back and laugh.
Because what you thought was ‘success’ is no big deal, after all.

– Rashmi Bansal is the bestselling author of Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish and I Have A Dream. You can connect with her on

From HT Brunch, March 4

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First Published: Mar 03, 2012 16:49 IST