This post is deliberately subjective and these three terms – “success”, “stagnation” and “self-discovery” are seen through a personal lens and I forewarn my readers, all personal lens distort, including the most-polished ones.
At a certain point in my career, my business became successful. My business was essentially that of working with language (s) – translating from one to another. I started with a single language and later on collaborated with 3000+ freelancers worldwide and created a language company called Wordsmith Communication. In course of time, in a certain segment, we attained the topmost echelons in the world, in that segment. The journey was equivalent to a cook first making his/her name in his/her genre of cooking and then opening a restaurant , followed by a chain, while teaming up with other talented ones in other genre. I have realized quite recently that the Art of Translation and the Art of Cooking are essentially the same art and they overlap too.
Once the company became successful (as per the judgement of investors, accountants, clients and associates), I found myself to be like an “well oiled machine” working for my clients and investors and for various exacting quality standards. I was successful but at the same time, I was miserable, so much so that I wished, I had not succeeded at all ! Success like money has trappings and unless one is conscious and cautious, the forces that made you succeed has no power to self-reference it.
Stagnation born of success and not of laziness is corrosive and more damaging. At this stage, when I became aware, I had three ways to deal with it. First, to behave as if everything is fine and go on doing what I was doing, Second, to become ambitious and set goals and objectives and suggest myself that these goals are worth working for, Third, to dis-engage gracefully (my decision would affect many people’s work and livelihood) and set a loose plan to address the increasing misery within. I had observed, very ironically that the misery increased directly in proportion to revenue, clients, projects etc.
The first thing I did as a process of dis-engagement was to talk with some of my associate freelancers in an informal manner. They found this interesting and I found this cathartic. So, we helped each other. Thus, two institutions were born : Wordsmith University and Freelance Foundation. I was a child to these new institutions and a freshness came while working for these institutions. There was no heaviness – there was no boundary because neither these were for a client, nor with “exacting standards” and definitely without any “agenda to succeed”.
However, I should confess something : all these would not happen without “success” in the first place. One must push, work hard, give one’s everything to be the lonely toppers in one’s field to realize the great irony of life : you only achieve something to understand that “you” – the inner you does not need that.
I am going to talk about this, in the final part of a 7-series webinar tomorrow at 2130 hours IST (1600 hours GMT) entitled : “Freelancer, Free Prometheus, Life-Designer”. The series is organized by Freelance Foundation and registration at https://www.thefreelancefoundation.org