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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee CEO at iPleaders.

Why most people never succeed – they got the wrong definition of success

You need to reconsider how you define success for yourself. Very often, we get it wrong, or we forget what success really means. It’s a tricky one.

Success usually comes in disguises every day. Then one day, it ditches the disguise and shines for everyone to see.

What are its disguises? Hard work. Investment. Difficult decisions. A half chance. A failure followed by more work. Uncertainty.

I know, that sounds like trouble, not like success. Success is standing on the podium, driving an exclusive car, chilling on a 5 star private beach, money in your pocket. Wrong. Success is not any of those things. These are some of the benefits of consistent success. Sure, these signs show up after some time if you want them in your life. However, if you chase these mirages of success you will probably never make it. Most people chase those things and miserably fail. It’s a trap. It’s a damn good trap though, and most of the people you know will remain caught in that trap.

In the new year, let’s define what success really is for us. For me and you.

Let’s say you want to be a world champion. Is success standing on the podium or a victory lap? Is success million dollar endorsement deals? Sure these are some rewards of success. However, real success is getting up on time, hitting the gym, going for a run, sticking to a difficult diet, push your boundaries even when your body hurts and your mind craves to just give up.

Your mind says “I had a hard day, now I want a beer and watch some television”. But you don’t do it, because that’s not how champions are made. You hit the bed early, after a disciplined meal. That is success.

Every moment you don’t give in to your nature but strive for greatness, every step you take in that direction, is success. Every time you give in to your base nature, that wants you to remain comfortable, not take risks, to give up and chill, and you can’t shake yourself out of it immediately – that’s failure.

And sure, we will fail a lot. I go to bed late, that is where my failure starts. Then I end up waking up late, miss my morning meditation, miss going for a run, all those are failures. But then I seize the day, sit at my desk and start working. I tell anyone who interrupts me that I am not available. That’s success. If I manage to follow the amazing routine I have made for myself, that is success. Every time I get distracted from my work but catch myself at it, it’s success.

If I can do what makes sense again and again, over time, the money, the recognition, and everything else I want will follow. Success is mastering ourselves. When we succeed within, rewards are just for the picking.

And that is why most people never get to enjoy true success. They want the glitzy, rich, comfort of instant success. When they are presented with opportunities that require them to work and struggle for months and years they do not opt for it.

If you know someone like that, just ask them. When is a champion born? Is a champion created on the podium, with cameras clicking away, with a medal around their neck or a cup in their hands? Or is a champion born when someone decides to wake up at the crack of dawn and sweat it out on the track, on the court, at the field or the gym? Is a champion born when a bottle of champagne is opened and sprayed or when someone overcomes the desire to drink some nice wine or even chai and opt for water instead? Is the champion born when they manage to overcome the temptation and inborn human laziness with sheer willpower and desire to succeed or when they buy a big beach house in a posh locality?

I understand you can’t wait to get to the fun part of success, the rewards, but first be ready to put in what the vast majority of people are not ready to put in. Day in and day out, you need to score success and victories over yourself. You have to do the right thing that is hard to do rather than the easy thing that is so tempting and so easy.

Revolutions are silent. A lot happens under the water, in the cover of the dark, when nobody notices – and then one day it comes out, and marches to inexorable victory.

May 2018 be your year for silent revolution and relentless success. What actions are you going to take? Will you wake up at the crack of dawn? What temptations do you need to conquer? What battles will you fight within yourself and win?

If you want to be a champion lawyer, here are some successes you must pursue every day:

  1. Reading and learning: There is no amazing lawyer without a great reading habit. Knowledge is the biggest weapon in the repertoire of a lawyer. You must keep acquiring new knowledge and update yourself constantly. Of course, what you are reading matters a lot. There is a difference between reading a newspaper, a legal textbook and course material. You must also make time everyday to learn from other good lawyers around you. Here is a list of 10 amazing business books that every lawyer should read. Here is a list of 30 books recommended by ABA to American lawyers. I will solemnly recommend them to Indian lawyers too.
  2. Share and demonstrate your expertise: you succeed as a lawyer when other people discover your expertise. It can happen in the courtroom as other lawyers and judges are impressed by your work, or as you share a video on youtube explaining a complex matter in a simple way, or write a book on an important legal area that are read used by many other lawyers, or by contributing articles to platforms like this. Whatever you do, do it frequently and regularly. Here is Arvind Datar on importance of writing and legal scholarship.
  3. Acquire new skills: Knowledge and skills are very different. Knowledge is read, heard, shared, but skills are learnt and passed on. A lawyer has to acquire new skills as career grows. It can be how to assist your senior, how to draft contract, how to research, how to frame arguments in the beginning, but as you grow in age, practice and stature you must learn new skills like financial management, hiring and performance management of the lawyers and other staff that work under you, how to build new practice areas, how to expand into new cities, how to use the internet to grow your practice – anything that may take you forward. What skill will you focus on in 2018?

Please share your thoughts in reply. I promise to read each of the responses.


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