Best formula for success | Sunday Observer

Best formula for success

8 November, 2020

When you see brilliant men and women on television and envy their fame and financial success, do not imagine that they were always at the top of the tree. Some of them were miserable failures at the start and for many years after. We are living in a society in which people blame everyone from their parents to the Government for their failure to get ahead. However, motivational superstars refuse to buy into the victim mentality. If you say that someone or something is preventing you from succeeding, you are giving away the power within. You have more control over your life than anyone else.

Sometimes, our parents or teachers tell us “You’ll never become a good painter or doctor.” They judge you by your performance at the time. But how can they predict what will happen in the future? Some of us are late developers and we nurture our talents as the years pass by. If you listen to such bad advice, you will ruin own future. During a London production of “Treasure Island” before World War II, the director threw a distasteful glance at a young actor and said, “That fat boy by the gun … remove him. He spoils the picture; he’ll never be a good actor.” That fat boy was Robert Morley who became a very successful actor later. He suffered many setbacks before achieving distinction.

You cannot succeed all the time. Sometimes, you fail in subjects you are very good at. Such failures should not dishearten you. If you have character, you will face the challenge. If Abraham Lincoln, an ordinary country lawyer, had given up at the first hint of failure America would have lost one of her great presidents. Unlike some of us who give up trying, Lincoln was a man of great tenacity. He had a chequered history of failures. In 1832, he was defeated when he contested a seat in the legislature. Similarly, he failed in business and lost almost everything he had. But he did not give up the struggle. In 1838 he stood for Speaker and was defeated. Even in 1840 he failed to get elected. In 1843, his attempt to become Commissioner of the General Land Office was unsuccessful. In 1848, he suffered a similar defeat and in 1850 his nomination for Vice President was turned down. Each defeat and failure taught him a lesson. Finally, he became the 16th President of the United States.


All the candidates who sat the G.C.E. Advanced Level examination recently are not going to be successful. Only a very few will be eligible for university admission. Failure in an examination should not dampen your enthusiasm. You can learn a lesson from Abraham Lincoln and keep on trying until you succeed. Those who pass examinations with flying colours will be happy with their results. But they too will have to struggle to pass other barriers in life. Unless you have the stamina, you will never be able to do well in life. All the great men were endowed with stamina. For instance, Napoleon Bonaparte was not a great General at the start. He joined the artillery as a Second Lieutenant. After his graduation at EcoleMilitaire at the age of 16 he was promoted as Brigadier General at the age of 24. In 1796, he was made Commander of the French Army. Thereafter, he became the Emperor. Although he acted as a tyrant at times, Napoleon was a great ruler who changed and revitalised many French institutions. Although he was defeated at the battle of Waterloo, he is remembered as a great ruler.

Some of us are weak in certain subjects. This is quite normal. Emerson could never master the simplest of sums. Oliver Goldsmith was at the bottom of his class. Sir Walter Scott was not a brilliant student at school. Charles Darwin could not learn any foreign language and Thomas Alva Edison’s teacher wrote a note to his mother to say that he had sub-normal intelligence!

It is a pathetic sight to see young graduates protesting against the Government for not giving jobs to them. That means our universities have produced unemployable graduates. In most developed countries, the private sector offers employment opportunities to young graduates. On the other hand, when you earn a degree you should be able to find a suitable job. When they are unable to find a suitable job, they are willing to do any job. This shows that they have no aim in life. Having a purpose in your life is the most important element of becoming a fully functioning person. Wayne Dyer in his best-seller Your Erroneous Zones says not living life on purpose consists of expending just enough effort to get by with the least amount of problems. When you live life on purpose, your main concern is doing the job right.

Action plan

Trying to achieve your goal without an action plan is like trying to make omelettes without eggs. The wasted time, energy and money will probably cause you to give up before very long. One of America’s successful sales trainers says, “Goals that are not in writing are not goals at all. They are merely fantasies.”

When you are truly committed to a goal, giving up is not even an option. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. When Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen compiled Chicken soup for the soul, it was turned down by many publishers. Instead of giving up they stayed focused on their goal. When it was finally published by a small outlet the book became a bestseller. That is the power of perseverance.


An anonymous poem reproduced below will give a load of inspiration for those who are frustrated in life.

“If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think that you dare not, you don’t,
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost,
For out in the world you’ll find
Success begins with a fellow’s will –
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise;
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks who can.

Today, only a very few people want to be poets or writers. Everybody wants to be doctors, engineers or accountants. Hugh Scott snorted with derision when his son told him he wished to be a writer. “There’s no money in writing,” he scoffed, “I’ll find you a place in an office, my boy.” But his son nurtured a secret ambition to write and despite repeated failures kept on trying. Years later, his father put down a book he’d been reading and, turning to his son, exclaimed, “If you had been able to write as well as this chap Henry Seton Merriman, I’d have had no objection to you taking up writing as a profession.” He did not know at the time that Henry Seton Merriman was his son’s nom-de-plume!

Albert Einstein once gave what he considered the best formula for success in life. “If ‘a’ is success in life, I should say the formula is ‘a’ equals ‘x’ plus ‘y’ plus ‘z’, ‘x’ being work and ‘y’ being play. And what is ‘z’? inquired an interviewer. “That” he answered, “is keeping your mouth shut.”

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