I recently attended a talk by well-known actor Rahul Bose on a topic that although important is often ignored. He opened the session by talking about a high-level belief held by most people – “you need to be personally successful before you can be publicly committed”. “Today, my dear friends, I want to challenge this, and in fact, prove that it’s actually just the reverse – unless you are publicly committed you cannot be personally successful!”
What followed was a series of anecdotes and pointers that emphasize completing the tiny picture of a personally successful life (paraphrased below):
Personal success (fame, money, power) at its most fundamental level boils down to personal happiness. To ensure personal happiness, one must ruthlessly hack away at everything that bugs you to the core. Sometimes it’s the tiniest thing – the child at the traffic signal, the tampered rickshaw meters, a missing traffic light at a crossing you pass everyday, the garbage dump near your favorite park, or a form of discrimination you have personally witnessed. No issue is small if you’re personally affected by it. Public commitment does not imply every issue has to be solved by you, but neither does it imply that you do nothing because “so much is wrong”. Just direct your everyday hurt/anger/frustration to the one change that will make you personally happy.
How do you decide how much time/money/effort to commit? Start small. For example, what is that amount of money which you will not pick up if it were to fall from your wallet when you’re rushing for a flight? What’s the fraction of time every month that passes by without us thinking about it – a traffic delay or an unplanned wait at the airport? We all can spare time and money, we just don’t do it consciously. Start by helping an organization or a person committed to your problem.
“How do you know you have done enough? What is that point?” The answer is not a one-size-fits-all. Rahul shared an interesting anecdote to answer this question. He recently visited several popular sports stars to collect sports memorabilia for an auction organized by his NGO The Foundation to fight discrimination. Saina Nehwal was one of them. Although Rahul was delighted when she gave away one of her recent gold medals she did not look so happy. A few minutes later, she returned to him with the racket that helped her win. And, yet her smile was missing. Finally she brought her jersey too and then she smiled. Her heart was at peace; she knew she had done enough. That was the point for her. To each his own.
Go after your personal happiness and don’t miss fixing the tiny thing that bugs you everyday because as Rahul discovered it doesn’t let you be happy.
Rahul Bose is a respected actor, a national rugby player, an acclaimed speaker, a social activist for climate change, and the founder of an NGO dedicated to the removal of discrimination from all walks of life. Besides, he is super orator. Don’t miss a chance to hear him speak.