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Two ways to excel in life
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Acharya Prashant: (Referring about the questioner) Studied The Fountainhead, and from there she has compared the qualities of the creator and the repeater- which she (the questioner) has called as the second-hander. And in a tabular form, she has presented a comparison of the qualities or attributes of these two sets of people. It’s quite comprehensively done, well done. Then she is asking, “Please help me understand how a person like me who was average in studies, is average in the profession, pursue some hobbies, but just for fun, can apply those learnings?”

She (the questioner) says, “I don't see myself creating anything. My work is regular, where I carry out tasks assigned to me, I do it in the best possible way I can, but hold no desire to excel over there and the same is the case with all the hobbies I have. However, there is a faint desire to excel at something, which is sometimes felt in the form of uneasiness.”

You will have to grope in the dark a little, Vatsala (the questioner). There are two ways to go about it; both are effective, both are applicable. I will narrate both of them to you. She is asking, how to find out something that she can really put her heart into? She says, she has, in general, been average or mediocre in her studies and career so far. Now how does she find something that she can really be heart-fully devoted to? And in this obviously, the inspiration she is drawing is from the figure of Howard Roark.

The first way is the way of comparison. If you want to know what is it that you can do or what is it that you really must do, then look at your condition and find out what is it that troubles you the most, and that will tell you what is it that you are missing the most. It is an indirect way, it is a comparative way. To know what you must do, I am saying, try to find out what is it that you just do not want to do. To find out what you must do, figure out what is it that you just do not want to do. What is it that really suffocates you? What is it that doesn't really allow you to live? And that will give you a hint. You will come to know the direction in which you should broadly move, right? This was the way of comparison.

The second way to find out what to do is the way of freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from results, returns. Why is it so that we keep doing stuff that we must not do? And then we say, ”Oh! We do it but we can't excel at it. Our heart is not in it, so results are not good.” Why is it so, that most people are engaged in stuff, that just does not appeal to them? If they are doing it, there must be a reason, what is the reason? Money, results, correct?

Because of their greed for results, they take up work, they get involved in a kind of life that they should have not. So, the way of freedom says, "All your rubbish came to you, all the wrong kind of work came to you because you are hungry for rewards; because you were looking at results." So now, ask yourself what is it that you want to do, if it is certain that you will not get anything out of it. I call it the way of freedom because it is the way that comes to you when you are free from the expectation of results.

You got into the traps of wrong kinds of work because you were tempted by results, “Let me take up this work, on the 30th day of the month, the result will be good.” What will be the result? A nice paycheque. Now ask yourself, what if it is certain that no money, no external gratification of any kind is going to come your way, then what would you take up willingly, without any expectations from the future? That will tell you where your destiny lies. Are you getting it? Ask yourself, “If I were not to be paid for this, would I still do this?” And if you hear a ‘yes’ from within, then you are doing the right thing.

You understood these two methods? If you want to find out what is it that you can pursue, rather what is it that you must pursue, the first is the way of comparison. How does that proceed? If you do not know which way you want to go, just see which way hurts you the most. Just see where your pain points lie, and then move in a direction that takes you away from them. That is one way to get a pointer, an approximate direction.

And the other way is the way of freedom. Free of all greed and temptations what would you want to do? That’s what you must do.

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