When success fails

Everyone wants success in life but few who know the elements of success, the factors that go to build up success.


Every one of us wants to be successful. Though we move along different pathways of life, we are all in search of success. Each one wants to be successful in his or her sphere of activity.

A girl met me the other day and said, “During your absence from Pune, my wedding will take place. I want you to remember me on that day and pray for me, so that I may be successful in my new phase of life.”

Yet another day, I received a call from a student in America. She was about to appear for her final examinations. “Do pray for me that I may be successful in my examinations and show brilliant results!” she said to me. Everyone wants success in life but few who know the elements of success, the factors that go to build up success.

How Rockefeller started giving

Today, success is being confounded with making money, with amassing millions and billions. John D Rockefeller was such a multimillionaire, to whom success did not bring happiness. His biographer tells us that by the time Rockefeller was 53, his life was a wreck. He was the richest man in the world and yet he was miserable! He was sick—physically, mentally and emotionally. All his millions could not make him happy.

Then Rockefeller turned a new leaf. He stopped accumulating wealth, and began to give it away. Thus was born the Rockefeller Foundation, which supports education and medical care throughout the world. John Rockefeller re-wrote and re-defined the meaning of success for himself.

Is success about power, position and material acquisitions?

Some people equate success with power and position. A mother said to me that her son had achieved success in life at the young age of 23. He had been appointed as the Managing Director of a large industrial concern. But a few days later, I heard that the young man was rude to his colleagues and unpopular with his workers; that he had a foul temper, and that he had fallen a victim to the two vices of gambling and drinking. Would you describe this young man as being successful?

Many of us tend to equate success with visible material acquisitions. There was a young woman who wore expensive clothes and diamond jewels; her handbag was stuffed with cash and she drove about in a Mercedes. Everyone agreed that she was indeed a woman who had achieved success in life. But when this young woman met me, she said to me with tear-filled eyes, “I am one of the unhappiest women on earth. My husband is constantly running after other women and pays no attention to me.” Would you call this rich woman successful?

Jay Gould, the American millionaire, amassed great wealth. But as he lay dying, he lamented, “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth!” There is no happiness in wealth, but there is considerable wealth in the experience of happiness.

What, then, is true success?

I believe that true success is in some way or the other, related to inner happiness and peace of mind. It has been rightly said that if you lose your wealth, you lose but little. If you lose your health, you lose something. But, if you lose your peace of mind, you have lost everything!

External achievements, are not the yardsticks for success. Power, prestige, position, social influence, higher degrees awarded by universities—all these are outer things. They only touch the fringe of life, they don’t enter the depths within. A man may have all this, and yet he may be intellectually barren; he may be emotionally unbalanced and spiritually sterile. Would you call such a man successful?

What then, is success all about? I would define success as the ability to be happy and make others happy; the ability to love and be loved; the ability to remain in peaceful harmony with oneself, with those around you and with God’s cosmic laws.

How Dunlop became truly wealthy

Let me tell you the story of such a man, who achieved success in life.

You may have heard of Dunlop tyres. They were manufactured by George C Dunlop. As a young man, Dunlop was far from wealthy. But he genuinely cared for an old woman, who was an invalid. She was confined to a wheel chair, and George would often propel the chair for her. He realised that she suffered severe jolting and discomfort, when the steel rims of the wheel chair would move on a rough terrain. He wanted to do something that would reduce her discomfort.

In those days, a new material was much talked about. People were beginning to marvel over its flexibility and softness. It was nothing but rubber! Dunlop took strands of rubber and wound them around the steel rims of the wheel chair and found that this smoothened the movements of the wheel considerably, giving a great deal of comfort to his invalid friend. Thus began the story of Dunlop tyres—first designed to bring comfort to an invalid’s life, they made George Dunlop a wealthy man many times over!

This was first published in the June 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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J P Vaswani
J P Vaswani (2 August 1918 – 12 July 2018) ), affectionately called "Dada", was a spiritual leader with a difference. His message of love and forgiveness resonated deeply with millions of people around the world. He spearheaded Sadhu Vaswani Mission, which he took over after the passing away of his master T L Vaswani. The mission has centres around the world and continues to do humanitarian work. Dada has received the prestigious U-Thant Peace Award for his dedicated service to the world peace.


  1. The story on Chuck should strike a chord with Sindhis as many of us are noted to travel and shop at duty free

  2. hmm- interesting.Rockefeller story Reminds me of Chuck Feeney- founder of duty free shopping who amassed billions and during his lifetime has given it all away. He is still alive, considered one of the world’s greatest philanthropists.and a very humble person. met him once at a uni reunion and no one would’ve guessed he wsa a billionaire. no false airs. very down to earth. normal suit, $15 watch, ok shoes and spoke to everyone like another colleague and at that time he still hadn’t given away his billions.
    But the one who takes the cake in success is our very own Mother Teresa.
    Need I say more?


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