How to get success in whatever you do?

Question: I want to do a few things, but I find myself enslaved in my habits and patterns, I fail again and again in doing what I want to do.

Acharya Prashant: So I say that I am failing again and again and hence I want success.

Who is it that is failing? You are saying that it is due to habits and patterns that the failure is happening. I am asking, “Who is it that is failing?”

“Is it not the patterns themselves that are producing both the cause and the effect?”

“Is the so called failure not entrenched in the mental pattern itself?”

The pattern is working, the pattern is producing a certain output and then the pattern itself is not satisfied with the output. Tell me, is dissatisfaction going to lead to any kind of progress?

It is a commonly held belief with so many of us that if you are dissatisfied with the status quo, then some change happens. We think that, don’t we? But I am asking, name the entity that is dissatisfied? The dissatisfied entity, is it not the same as the entity that works and fails and works and fails and is repeatedly dissatisfied? Is dissatisfaction emerging from looking at the failure or is it just the continuation of the same pattern of failure?

Please understand this, most of us thinks that it is because we failed that we are dissatisfied. Failure is followed by dissatisfaction, right? Is it not so? And when you have a target and you don’t achieve that target, you fail; you feel that it is because you failed that you are now dissatisfied.

I am asking you to consider whether is it really so? Are you dissatisfied because you fail or are failure and dissatisfaction necessary accompaniments of each other? Like fruits of the same tree, is one fruit giving the birth to another fruit or do they have common root? When you have two fruits of a tree, is one fruit responsible for the other fruit? Or do they have a common root? Now when you fail, there is an urge to improve, right? Is that not just a third fruit of the same tree? Or is it a result?

Things happening within a particular system will not radically transform that system. Things happening within a mental pattern, are not going to dissolve that pattern. And it is a nice pattern- desire, work, fail, dissatisfaction, desire to change, work again, fail again, feel dissatisfied again, have another desire to change things, work again – and it is within this pattern that our entire life is spent. It is within this pattern that most human activity takes place.

You do not realize that the entity that wants to improve is the same entity that failed in the first place. The urge towards progress is coming from the same root from where the reasons of failure came. In other words, the same factor that caused you to fail, is now asking you to improve.

This is quite funny – there is something within you that first brings failure to you and then brings in a hope of improvement to you. And it’s the same fellow, it’s the same entity sitting in your mind that first brings you failure and then brings you the hope that you can change and improve and succeed. And because you do not know this entity, so you listen to this fellow and the cycle continues.

 I am saying that, “Whatever be your chosen field of work, whatever be your location in life, whatever be your status in society, whatever be the direction of your endeavor, there can be no real progress if you just keep working in that field.”

A student has 65% marks and is not satisfied; a scientist is getting particular results in his laboratories and is not satisfied; a politician is getting some amount of support in the electorate and is not satisfied; an athlete is performing to a particular standard and is not satisfied and all of them want to put in more effort, all of them think that they can change through their effort and hence improvement and success can come. And remember, that in all these fields, area of work, the life activities are very different. Or it could be a relationship – two people are in relationship and they are not satisfied with the quality of the relationship so they too want to bring in some change so that there can be some progress. Nothing can happen whatever be the field, till first of all, the mental pattern is thoroughly changed.

The fellow who is getting 65% marks is not getting 65% marks for no reason. There is something within him that binds him to 65%. This 65% cannot radically change till the fellow radically changes.

Being what you are you cannot get anything very different from the figure you are already getting. Yes, 65 can become 68 or 70 or it can probably drop to 60 but if you think that you can become a 90% scorer that cannot happen. This 65% is a reflection of your being and your personality because you are preserving your being, your personality, so this 65% will also be preserved.

And that is why you would see that in overwhelming, large proportions of cases, your academic percentage in first semester will be almost the same throughout your academic career. What you get in the first semester will be maintained in the coming semesters as well with a little bit of change. Because, you are the same, your effort is not going to help.

If you put in more effort that would be like a dog trying to chase its tail or a man trying to lift himself up using the power of his hands. He is saying, “I will lift myself up from the earth using my own power.”

It is not possible because you yourself are the fellow who will cause resistance to improvement.It’s like having one foot on the accelerator and the other foot on the brake. You have two footy for no reason! The reason is duality. (Smiles)

So, you can console yourself and feel good about yourself by saying, “See, I am trying to improve.” And you conveniently hide the fact that right next to the accelerator, you are the one who is also not allowing the improvement. You will not allow.

Before you go in any kind of progress in any field of life, remember, only a little bit, marginal improvements can come through your efforts.

Your efforts will not bring about real change;  

real change in work, real change in activity comes,

when the mind really changes.


You are an athlete, you belong to particular category of performers, if you want to improve within that category then work hard. But if you want to rise above your category and rise to another dimension all together, then work on your mind.

You are a businessman, you are doing 10 crores, you want to rise to 12, then work on your marketing, finances and distribution, but if you want to rise from 10 to 500 then forget marketing and finance and HR, work on yourself. Because being what you are, you will not take the quantum jump from to 10 to 500. 10 to 12, you will manage and you feel very happy “20% improvement has resulted due to my hard work”. You will feel very happy and you will celebrate, “20% improvement!” but 10 to 500 cannot come due to your hard work, it can come only in a wake of utter dissolution of your personality.

A new self has to be born.

Only a new self will produce totally new results.

Does that explain why most of us struggle within our narrow brackets? But that’s a good comfort also, because the bracket, while ensuring that you cannot rise above the bracket, will also ensure that you cannot fall below the bracket. So from 65 you will not be able to rise above 70 but you will be also not fall below 60 and that’s a great comfort.

“Being what I am I will at least get 60.”

Yes, of course you would, because you would not allow yourself to not to study less than a particular limit. Being what you are, you will be so terrified, that you will go and study and you will end up getting 60. Even if you try not to get any marks, you will get 60. It is very very difficult for you to get 80 but it is impossible for you to get 40. Try!

Anybody here who says he can manage a 40? You cannot, it is beyond you. It is as much beyond you as getting 85.

Do you see where you are trapped?

In that small narrow bracket and that small narrow bracket is you. That’s what you are – the four walls of your house. That’s not where you live; that’s what you are. Your brackets are your boundaries.

And please remember, those wall have not come due to some accidents they are not there out of sheer chance. Those walls are just a reflection of your mind.  If you are just entertaining yourself with the thought that, “One day, I will be able to break away and fly free” then you are just deceiving yourself.

The world is like a mirror – it reflects what your mind is projecting.

If you see walls around you that only mean that your mind is full of walls. Your mind is projecting walls. And if the mind has walls, then even if it is forcibly made to fly away, it will carry the walls with itself and soon you will find that in the external world also new walls are surrounding you.

It is a peculiar situation. Even if your old walls are forcibly brought down you are the one who will raise new walls for yourself. So kindly do not come up with the excuse that, “You know, right now what can I do? My flight is hindered by these walls.”

Your flight! What do you mean by that? It’s just a good idea- your flight!

There is nothing called your flight; there is only something called your walls.

You are the walls;

unless there is complete demolition of who you are,

you will remain where you are.

But you are hopeful, you are carrying a dream. You think remaining what I am, the rest of the stuff of my life can change and there can be joy, there can be progress there can be freedom.

Even small kids know something very basic- good things don’t happen to a bad man. That’s a very primitive, almost crude way of putting it, but that’s it. Good things don’t happen to a bad man. And if bad things are all the time happening to you, should you feel good that “I am a nice man and the world is a bad place and the world does not know how to value and honor its variant knights like Don Qiote — the real people — the world does not value them. Or should you simply admit that if so many bad things are happening then may be the bad rests within me.

Before you forget, I am repeating one central thing — that the voice that leads you to failure and the voice that urges you to improve are one and the same voice.Both are fake; both are your enemies.

They are not different voices. Forget about them being opposite voices they are not even different. The voice that indulges you in desire and then the voice that ask you to repent are one and the same voice. But you feel that they are opposite voices, right? There is one voice that pushes you in indulgence and after you have had your way and your desire is satiated for a while then you hear another voice which says, “Bad man! You indulged, you went for self-gratification and that is not right, now you must repent.” These two are the same voices.

One of these voices is never going to cancel out the other. One of these voices is not at all standing in real opposition to the other.

There is one voice within you which says “Oh my God, I am so helpless” and there is another voice within you that says, “I want to improve, I want to change my current situation.” Both of these are the same voice. Do not think that the voice that urges you to become free is any different from the voice that tells you how helpless your situation is – they are the same voice.

But you have a wonderful notion about yourself. You think you are two selves. You think on one hand there are the external situations that are responsible for your bondage and on the other hand there is something else about you which is pushing you towards freedom. No! What keeps you in bondage is not at all your external situation, it is your own pattern and the same pattern urges you to become free. This urge is false and fake urge. This urge is just a consolation; this urge is just a method so that you continue being bonded.

Hope promises change, but is the agent of continuity.

By hoping you allow the rubbish to continue.

By hoping that one day I will be able to clear the rubbish, you are allowing the rubbish to continue. So, hope is a very deceptive thing. We all hope for change. But in hoping for change, we only allow the rubbish to continue; not change; to continue, persist.

I find it funny when you come up to me and say that, “This is wrong with me and I want to change it.”

Or, when you come up to me and say that, “I made all these mistakes, now what can I do?”

Or when you come up to me and say that, “This is the problem I am facing, how I can get rid of it?”

Because, you are the same fellow who is raising those problems, who is creating those problems and asking for a solution to those problems is a part of creation of those problems.

There is a complete algorithm of problem creation and maintenance and you are trying to co-opt me within that algorithm. You know what the algorithm is?

Create a situation.

Name it a problem.

Try to find a solution.

Go to that fellow to get a solution.

Thank him.

Do not let the solution work.

Land into another problem,

Go back to that fellow,

Get another solution,

Do not let that solution work,

Create another problem,

Go back to that fellow.

And this pattern allows your mental activity to continue. This is all that the mind wants – having something to continue; having something that extends in time.

You could say the mind is always looking for a time pass. So, this whole pattern, gives you a very convenient time pass. And you are able to spend your life with some kind of purposefulness.

“What did I do my entire life?

“I was fighting problems and I was genuinely fighting problems. See, how sincere I was. I took all the steps to improve, to make progress. I was genuinely fighting. So I am a respectable fellow. When I die, then you should offer me some tributes – he fought problems all his life; all his life he was trying to bring down the walls around him. He was a valiant soldier who kept failing.”

When you come to me, are you not the same fellow who did not listen to me the last time or have you radically transformed in the meanwhile? Last time when you came to me I said something to you, right?  You didn’t listen or you pretended to listen. You ignored it; you didn’t take the opportunity that I gave. That is what happened last time. And now you have again come to me asking the question. Are these two fellows not same? One who ignored my advice or failed to live up to it and this fellow who is again coming to me for advice are they not the same?

I am asking, “Has there been a radical transformation in the meanwhile?”

There has been no radical transformation. Then what you did to my advice last time, you will do to it this time as well. But you come up with such a genuine face, you look so innocent.

“Sir, please sir, I am again in trouble and this has happened.”

Are you in trouble or is trouble in you?

So, that is why last week I asked, “You keep asking all these questions, first of all, you tell me what happened to the answer that I gave the last time. First of all, you explain that to me. What did you do with the answer that I gave last time? And will you not do the same to the answer that I give today?”

Being what you are, you will do what you have been doing. But today your face is different. It’s just the face that is different. When you are not listening to me, you have a particular face and when you say that, “We are sorry, we are attentive; we want to listen.” then you have a different face.

These are two faces of the same bad coin. Can the coin give itself up? It probably can. But it cannot give up one particular face. Both faces will have to go.

Those who do not want to face failure again and again must give up the quest for progress.

And when you do not want to improve,

then genuine transformation occurs,

not just marginal improvement.

Please understand the enormity of what I am saying right now. When you do not want your little bit of improvement and given what you are, can you want much? Can you want the immense? You will only want a little bit, right? You will want a movement from 65 to 68. The day you stop wanting to move from 65 to 68 a radical change from 65 to 95 become possible. But you will have to stop wanting. You do not stop wanting, thinking that if you stop wanting then no progress will happen.What you do not realize is that your desire itself is preventing you from fulfillment.

The desire for improvement is an obstacle to real improvement.

It is because you want to improve and I am repeating, when you will want to improve, you will want only a little improvement. Because you are little and a little mind cannot want much.

The day you will stop desiring to improve you will not see improvement within the brackets, you will see an explosive, disruptive improvement. It will be beyond your expectation, actually beyond your expectations, because your expectation cannot be bigger than you. Are you getting it?

Your efforts will not bring about real change in you.

Your desire will not bring about real change in you.

The real change comes when you see the futility of your desire and your efforts.

When you see that the agent that is desiring and working is the same agent that is bringing you the repeated failures and suffering again, again and again.

But you are smart people. You say that, “If change has to come then it must come through my efforts, so that I can stake my claim over it. You see I improved due to my mechanisms and my efforts.”

You want to take the credit – that will not happen. As far as you are concerned, you are already getting the best that you can get. You will not be getting more than this from Existence. Existence is a very fair operator. It is already giving you what you deserve. You will not get anything more than this from existence. If right now, you are getting misery, suffering, failure you will keep getting misery, suffering and failures because that’s what you deserve.

The world is not an unjust place. There is nothing here that is oppressive or unjust.  There is nothing here that is kept pending. You have very quick transactions.

A better future is not possible for you.

The future, if at all it comes, will be just the same as your present.

You are not rising up a hill.

There is no peak that you are climbing towards.

You are already at the peak.

You cannot get any higher or any better than this. You are not going to improve. The rest of your life is going to be spent at the same level. It’s less of a mountain and more of a plateau. You can keep running on the top of the plateau, you a are not rising any higher. Are you getting it? There is no hope for you. And you better realize this – there is no hope. And it’s a fabulous thing to realize that. Because when there is no hope there is also no need for useless efforts.

 When you know you are on plateau, you know you cannot fall down. You may as well relax. The fellow on the plateau running around thinking that he can ascend the mountain; there is no mountain – so, sleep! You cannot ascend but you cannot also descend, so sleep! Your 65 will remain 65 even if you sleep. You know that, right?

The moment you realize that your effort is useless, the very agency from where your system operates changes. Now you have lost your trust in your self made system. When you loose trust in your self made system then another system takes over. It’s a miraculous mad system. And when it takes over, strange things happen. But for that system to take control of you, you must completely loose trust and hope in the system that you have made for yourself.  You must totally disown, disregard it and disrespect it. You must be able to clearly see how inadequate it is, how much of suffering it has given you and how it is deviously leading you towards more and more suffering.

You should not only be able to disregard it, you should actually find it abominable, condemn-able, a fair deal of repulsion and wonderment at how you could trust it in the first place. When you come to that point where you are wondering that, “How could I trust this system so much and for so long?”, then there is complete dissociation from your own system. Now something else takes possession of you. The man returns to his house, the tenants are out.

Let that something else take possession of you. You do not know yourself. You simply do not know your real face.

See what you are capable of, see what heights you can scale but first of all vacate the house, and first of all get rid of your self belief.

Get rid of your confidence in self.

If self respect means respecting your hollowness and ego, I am teaching you to disrespect yourself totally.

Disrespect yourself; go to the extent of humiliating yourself that even small remnant of old system does not remain with you.

It terrifies, right?

You don’t want to feel small in your own eyes, you want to feel good about yourself but this urge to feel good about yourself is the urge to feel good about the system and it comes from the system itself. You will have to see the inadequacy of your entire life; you will have to admit that you have been an unexceptional failure. You cannot even say that some part is good and the rest is bad. You will have to accept that you have been a total, complete, absolute failure because if you console yourself by saying that somewhere I succeeded then you will feel that using the same means may be you can succeed more. If success was possible once, then it can be possible again by using my same methods and mechanism.

You will have to see that whatever you call as success,

whatever you call as the shining jewels of your life, are either just deception

or stuff that Grace has given you in spite of you not deserving it.

And what has come to the system through grace is not an output of the system so kindly don’t take the credit. If by chance something nice has happened to you, it is not because you are clever and smart and effort-ful, it has just happened in spite of you. Had it been in your power, you would have done everything to prevent it. Just as we do everything to prevent ourselves from coming here but still if you land here it is not to your credit, somebody else is pulling you here. What is happening in this room is not within your system.

L2: Sir, once we know this thing that to make a real change, mind needs to be changed, how can we work upon this mind and how can we create that new self?

AP: I am asking you the same question I started off with, “Who will work upon the mind?”

And have I said that mind needs to change?

Change is such a gentle, peaceful and small word. I have not said that mind needs to change; I am saying that the mind needs to be dynamited away.

There is difference between the changing facade of a building, changing the porch or the portico and bringing the building down. I am not asking you to change the building; I am asking you to blow up the damn thing.

L3: How can the mind blow itself?

AP: For that you have to ask yourself, “How the whole thing came up in the first place? Who raised the building?”

Once you realize how the building is raised, then there is a chance of it not being raised again. Form where did the building come? Have you had it since eternity? Were you even born with it? From where does this entire system come?

Yes, I can blow it up here right now and it is being brought down brick by brick; but you repair it. If you can see who are the people and the forces, who are hell bent upon protecting your system then you will not allow them to repair the thing.

From where did it come in the first place?

It came from the surroundings and it will come again come from the surroundings, but once it has been brought down then you have greater power to defend yourself from surroundings. Use that power.

Do not just remain a nice and gentleman. Do not let your morality tie you down. You come here and coming here is like taking a complete bath. Not only the clothes, not only the body, the entire mind is being cleansed and you go out and somebody again spoils your clothes and your mind, why should you forgive him? Why should you allow him to touch you? And actually you do not.

You are wearing a white shirt and somebody puts his greased hands upon your shirt, do you take kindly to this? You do not allow him, right? You make faces, you push him away. You object to this action, don’t you?

But you go out and somebody completely spoils your mind, you do not object to this. You are receiving that phone call and that phone call is nothing short of a poison. The fellow is injecting poison directly in your ears. But because you are a gentleman enslaved by his own sense of morality, you will allow the phone call to continue. You will allow your so called friends to sit in front of you and corrupt your mind. Why must you act nice towards them? Why can’t you just get up and walk away, why can’t you walk away? That’s the question.

Bad enough, that you allowed them to sit in front of you in the first place, but worse is the fact that you don’t have the guts to walk away. But rest assure, the more your building is demolished, the more fearlessness you will have. If you just keep sitting here, if you keep being with me for sufficient time, you will find that the fears that make you kneel down in front of those who corrupt you, those fears will no longer be there.

The fear itself is the part of the system. As we will bring this system down, you and me together, when we will bring the whole thing down, then you will find it has become easier for you to not to allow the system to be raised again. Are you getting it?

It is only because just a little dent is made. It is only because just a little demolition takes place, that you are able to repair it within a week but if we can bulldoze the whole thing, raise it to the ground, then you will not be able to bring it up within a week. It is almost mathematical – Is the pace of destruction greater than pace of repair?

Destruction happens twice a week, repairing happens every moment. If you can allow the pace of destruction to be higher than the pace of repair then soon you will find that the destruction is complete. But remember, that repairing is happening every moment and destruction is happening only once or twice a week and if, even that is skipped, then there is no chance.  Repairing will be complete. You will be back to your old ways. We have people here, who are coming after 20 – 25 days, they are fully repaired. They are completely social models now.

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: How to get success in whatever you do?

Further Reading:

Milestones To Success


While innumerable books have been penned down by contemporary motivational speakers and writers on success, ambition, motivation, positive thinking and accomplishments; very few books, if any at all, have talked of what success actually is and how it is different from a socially-defined set of parameters.

Author’s genius lies in the fact that he has very simply answered the most intricate and complex questions that arise in the mind of every student and working professional, giving clarity on success, a topic that haunts them perpetually.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s