You don't know what you don't know
When I was in the 12th grade, I did not know much about much. I did not know what courses one could do in college (besides Engineering), what career options existed (besides writing code). Unfortunately, I did not know that I did not know. But with the blind naivety of youth, I blundered along. I did what everyone around me was talking about, assuming that would be the right answer. Whatever right meant, I still do not know.
I always assumed that once you made a choice into what your career was, you were locked in. And that was that. You did that for the rest of your life.
And work was something you had to do as an adult. Like taxes. You worked so that you could do other things in life.
None of those was true. Based on my limited worldview, I was constructing flawed assumptions and wrong mental models.
I quit one career to go to grad school. I quit my second career to move back to Madras. And my third career has been a blend of many things, of discovery and re-invention. Of many new experiences even as I do similar things daily.
This sparks one realisation - it is irrelevant whether you want to do the same thing for 50 years or 50 things. As long as you are in the moment, pushing yourself forward, experiencing and learning. But enough morals or what-not.
What other flawed assumptions have I made?
Or forget flawed. What assumptions have I made? Which I can re-make today? It does not have to be flawed. There cannot be only ONE path, right?
Is being successful in coming up with Facebook? But then there's the election rigging, the research that social media usage has increased depression, and whatever.
Is success Bill Bowerman and Phil McKnight, the founders of Nike? But then, what about all the research today that indicates shoes with a serious amount of cushioning and heel lift is causing a lot of upstream problems in our body?
Is success Richard Read? Who lived in a modest home, working a modest job, and left behind $8 million when he died.
The ones we never hear about
What about all the successful people we never hear about? The ones who are genuinely content, who are doing what they are here to do. Who are not playing social media wars? Who has won the money game, and said enough is enough. Who has decided to opt out? Who decided they didn't care about the money game or the fame game or whatever games that are being played.
The ones the media does not portray because it does not sell ads.
Well, it all depends on what you define success as.
Without that, you will be chasing someone else's dreams.
Chase your own
Maybe you are scared to go against the grain. For example, not having enough money in the bank is a scary proposition. But equally scary is not defining what that enough is. What if you keep moving goalposts, once you get there? What if more money does not mean more success but you were too caught up or scared?
The more perspectives, the more stories, the more we can grow our worldview. But more is not the answer. The idea, I think, is to see which strikes a chord deep within us. And to make our own weird concoction out of all that we see, and by listening to us deeply.
What makes you tick? What drives you? What warms your heart? What makes you produce your best?
Not finding that out for yourself, and instead of playing the games that everyone's playing (even if you play it real well) - that's anti-success.
Figure out your own game. Your own dreams. Chase them.