A number of students wanted to know the ‘elixir’ of life and how could one be ‘successful‘. I discovered that ‘happiness (or for that matter life) is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it’. Twenty five years in the uniform and another ten out of it, I’ve witnessed it all: the honesty, the integrity, the loyalty, the cheats, the selfishness, the back-stabbing colleague and your office politics.
For those of you, who are honest of the heart, the life’s real winners, changing times and changing values are like just passing another test. The temptation to cut corners is strong and persuasive. The lure to bend rules, hoard possessions and dismiss decency is being lost.
Doing things the ‘right way’ seldom cushions the let-downs, which leaves you confused and angry; but these are the times you need your moral compass and display your fibre. A man’s doubt and fears are his worst enemy. Keep in mind two things:
a. The situation is hardly ever as bad as it seems. This too shall pass.
b. Your stick to our fixed code of ethics whether the times are up or down, regardless of the consequence.
There cannot be separate sets of ethics for home, for work and for play. Ethics is ethics. YOUr core values should and must remain rock solid. I understand that material success is viewed to be more virtuous than how one obtains success but cutting corners is the antithesis of our lineage. Achieving YOUr dream requires, sweat, courage, commitment, talent, integrity, vision, faith and consistent hard work. But remember financial ends never justify unethical means. Gray is NOT a substitute for Black and White.
Decent, honest people finish races and their lives, in grand style and with Respect. So, students asked me The Commandments of Success. Well, each successful person will come out with his own set of commandments. What I share is Ten Commandments of Failure. You do any of these, YOU are bound to fail. Here goes.
- Quit taking risks.
- Be inflexible.
- Isolate yourself.
- Assume infallibility.
- Play the game close to the foul line.
- Don’t take time to think.
- Put faith on consultants.
- Love bureaucracy.
- Send mixed messages.
- Be afraid of future.
A detailed elaboration of these, with live examples in the next set of interactions.
At the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, we had ‘Honour Code“. A defaulter owned up his mistake and invariably he was let off the hook. It changed our perception and thinking towards Honesty. Work out the worst case scenario and go ahead, Own UP!
Do What is Right, NOT what is Easy. And to quote Oprah Winfrey, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not”.