What is the secret of success?
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not trying to motivate you to succeed. For that, there are a million motivational gurus out there who keep screaming ‘you can do it’. I am just analyzing the factors of success, the real ones. My analysis might rather demotivate you!
‘Hard work’ always takes the crown when it comes to the list of success secrets. Well, that sure is important and is rather fundamental. But if we ask, is the person who works the hardest succeeds the most, well, we know that is not the case.
We all know Yuri Gagarin, the first man on space. He was not a space scientist. He was an army pilot who got selected for the mission. Was he selected for his flying skills? Well, not really! He sure was an awesome pilot but so were many of his colleagues.
Psychological tests often can be a key factor in such missions. A space craft has got limited air, water and food supplies. The team selected should be able to work together with no ego issues in order to succeed. Due to the uncertainty involved, the psychological endurance of the team is critical. Gagarin apparently came on top in these tests.
Gagarin’s height was 5’7” and this mattered. His space shuttle, Vostok, was a small one. Too big a person would not fit in the modules properly and too small a person cannot reach places within the modules and operate it. His height was a sweet spot.
Gagarin was young and handsome with a boyish face. Ok, how does it matter on a space mission? He was sure to become the poster boy of the nation if the mission succeeded. It is important that he looked great on postal stamps and magazine covers. If that was not enough, Gagarin had a humble peasant background. Kruchchev apparently loved that fact. He thought show casing a farmer’s son as national hero would boost the government’s image worldwide.
Whether we like it or not, your family background, the country you are born in, your height, looks, age, gender etc often becomes key factors in your success. In fact, there are studies that show taller men and slender women earn more than others during their lifetime!
Although Gagarin was the first man on space, the first living thing on space was Laika, a dog. Laika was a stray dog. They needed a dog who can withstand extreme conditions. Else, they probably would have sent the President’s pet dog to the space. Also, it helped that Laika was a female. A male dog would need to raise its leg to pee and it is difficult to make a space suit that would adjust accordingly. So, gender matters!
My idea is not to discount the importance of hard work. That sure is important. But do not think the results are proportional. Not all can achieve the same by doing the same work. The results are often decided by a multitude of factors that are not predictable. That is why it is important to enjoy the process and not get obsessed with the results. ‘Ma Phaleshu Kadachana’ is an ever green advise!