CONSULTANT DIRECTOR – TEXUB | MEMBER UAE SUPERBRANDS COUNCIL | CHARTER MEMBER TIE DUBAI | HBR ADVISORY COUNCIL
My all-time favorite film is “Lawrence Of Arabia” and, if I have a favorite scene from the movie, then I guess it is the one of Lawrence’s triumphal return from the Nefud desert, having gone back to rescue the Arab named Gasim. The crossing of the Nefud desert is considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can take the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.
Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim’s death is “written” or “pre-destined”. When Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive, Sherif Ali admits to him: “Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it”.
As an impressionable teenager when this film was first released, I was stunned by Lawrence’s courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew among the vast expanse of a fiery terrain and I was so moved by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as “written” but to shape his own destiny. This belief that anything is possible has stayed with me always and continues to inspire me in small ways and large.
I consider myself as reasonably successful. Not in the top 5 percent of the world, but surely in the top 30 percent of the world. I have always noticed that majority of the people who attain huge amounts of success believe that they got there largely by their talent, hard work and smart decisions. Their autobiographies seldom mention the fact that they were born and placed in the right situations and the right locations at the right time, and more frequently than others.
And majority of the people who are not so successful believe that it has a lot to do with destiny and luck.
So is any one thinking correct? Or are both existing side by side.
There is huge amounts of evidence that suggests that destiny, luck and opportunity play a much bigger role in life. A concept referred to by many as “The ovarian lottery”. Who decides how one is born in North Korea or in Afghanistan. No matter how much talent or commitment one has, life would be uphill. And the ratio of persons making a huge success would be miniscule as compared to someone born in Europe or USA. Geography then, by default, becomes destiny. Who decides how one is born the child of a sewage cleaner in India.
Why is one friend of the same age struck by some catastrophic illness? While another who drinks and smokes in plenty lives to a ripe age? Why does a young upstart win a few millions by joining a unicorn which attains success, while his friend joins another startup which fails?
There is absolutely no denying the fact that personal characteristics such as hard work, optimism, tenacity and skills do matter. But don’t we see many thousands who have the same qualities, and more, and yet they struggle.
We are all intelligent enough to know this, and see examples of both kinds around us. But our minds like to believe we are more in control of our life than we actually are. This kind of belief is more empowering. The reality is that each of us is just one person in a game which has close to eight billion other moving parts on this planet
The fact of the matter is that the attitude, the commitment, the hard work, the intelligence, the tenacity are an absolute pre-requisite. Fortune definitely favors the brave, and those who give it their all.
Intentioning and learning to visualise success also helps immensely. This is a skill well worth developing. I have tried this practice and I find it works well if one truly believes that particular intentioning. Yet, I must confess it has not worked for me in those areas where I am talking about the intentioning and yet apprehensive inside.
In the final analysis, life is also about being aware and humble enough to understand that there are many forces and random events that shape the way our life eventually turns out. There is a lot of randomness to existence, and life is under no obligation to give us all that we expect. Even though the ones who get everything believe that it was all their brains and effort.
It is all about working on oneself to ensure that we develop attitudes and qualities that increase tailwinds. All the while doing two additional things – counting our blessings and paying it forward. Which in turn only improves the luck factor.
Each of us can be our own better version of Lawrence of Arabia.
Caveat – I do hope some of us look at a definition of success which is beyond just the material. A sorely needed quality in today’s times.
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