Formula for Success
by Shah N. Khan
There is a vast difference between success at twenty-five and success at sixty. At sixty, nobody envies you. Instead, everybody rejoices generously, sincerely, in your good fortune. 
Marie Dressler (1873–1934), U.S. actor.

Success means different things to different people at different stages of life. To lead a successful life is different than achieving success in one venture or the other. Thomas J. Watson - Founder of IBM Gives us a formula for success in business ventures.

“Would you like me to give you a formula for... success?  It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You're thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all... you can be discouraged by failure -- or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you'll find success.

“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
Albert Einstein
In his book "If Success Is a Game, These Are the Rules" Cherie Carter-Scott, PhD advises “Focus on your definition of success for yourself, and then ask yourself if you're willing to write down and follow the steps that will take you closer to achieving that definition of success. But let us not forget what Samuel Butler (1835–1902), English author said; 

“There are two great rules in life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that every one can in the end get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is more or less of an exception to the general rule.”

When asked his formula of success Albert Einstein replied, “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”  His advise, “"Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of Value." is in keeping with what we learn from the Holy Scripture and we are told that our hard work and virtuous deeds never go in vain and we are rewarded for that in one way or the other sooner or later.

Victor Frankle in his book “'Mans' Search For meaning'” write, “Again and again I admonish my students both in America and Europe: 'Don't aim at success--the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run--in the long run, I say--success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.'" 

What Frankle says is not materially different than what our Ulemas tells us that it is Allah who rewards us for our good deeds and work according His own divine will and plan. Failure doesn’t mean that we accomplished nothing. It means that we have learned something. Nobody is a failure unless he gives up.
We have to keep on trying and praying. 

Failure is not always due to our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, or with other memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation.  As Jim Rohn says, “Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.”

Our achievements speak for themselves. Determining and analyzing causes of our failure, discouragements, and doubts is good but should not be allowed to overwhelm us. In our analysis we should not forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, opportunities and leads and the painful groping. We should realistically evaluate our past achievements if they are really the end result of a clean forward thrust or just a lucky break, and if our present difficulties are really signs of decline and decay, how we can cure that.

As John Ruskin says, “The principle of all successful effort is to try to do not what is absolutely the best, but what is easily within our power, and suited for our temperament and condition.”

Talking about the real meaning of success Betty Anderson Stanley wrote, “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

Success and Happiness
As Dale Carnegie wrote; “Remember happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think."  Joseph Addison the famous inventor said the same thing in a different manner; “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for."

According to David Hume, Scottish philosopher, historian< “ The great end of all human industry is the attainment of happiness. For this were arts invented, sciences cultivated, laws ordained, and societies modeled, by the most profound wisdom of patriots and legislators. Even the lonely savage, who lies exposed to the inclemency of the elements and the fury of wild beasts, forgets not, for a moment, this grand object of his being.” 

In modern times the search for happiness has become one of the chief sources of unhappiness. Often we feel happy about our achievements and good breaks that we get in life. But such happiness consumes itself like a flame. It cannot burn forever, it must go out, and the presentiment of its end destroys it at its very peak. But if you cultivate the power of faith, it becomes easier to achieve lasting peace and happiness. As    Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah said, “"Never forget this: The society in which we live cannot give a man happiness ... Society can give a man space to breathe and freedom to move in it; it can afford him the means of keeping himself healthy and making himself strong. But happiness never depends on one's surroundings; it depends altogether on himself".

I read somewhere a quote attributed to James M. Barrie, “"The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one has to do”. Appreciation of this fact would help us cultivate a positive outlook towards life.  The same idea was described by Frederick Keonig,  "We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we have, but rather of  recognizing and appreciating what we do have."

As Charles W. Eliot says the best to secure future happiness is to be as happy as is rightfully possible today. See related article Test for Success at

Shah Nawaz Khan, A.C.I.I. (Associate of Chartered Insurance Institute, London) retired as General Manager and Executive Director of State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan after 30 years service and now works as Marketing Consultant and publishes electronic newsletters. For details