We had our 25-year reunion at school last month. Meeting friends after so long was quite refreshing. We could drop the masks donned for our professional lives and experience the child within even if only for a few days. The Hyderabad Public School (HPS) has quite a reputation. From leaders of the world’s top IT companies to politicians to sportsmen, HPS has produced the most distinguished alumni among schools in India.
As I mingled with my classmates from decades ago, one thing struck me. There was absolutely no correlation between how we did in school, whether in academics, sports or other extra-curricular activities and how we did in life - neither a positive nor a negative correlation. It seemed completely random.
This begs the question: is all the pressure that parents put on their kids these days to do well in school worth it? Several kids kill themselves because of this. I wish parents would realise the futility of getting good grades, admission into great schools and colleges and being a part of the rat-race.
What is it then that can ensure success in life? It is impossible to put this down to one or two things. There are several factors. Hard work, social skills, communication, shrewdness of the mind, being street-smart are just some of them. A lot of it is also being in the right place at the right time. Some people call this luck.
While we’re at it, what exactly is success, really? Is it money? Is it fame? Power? For each of us, success means different things. For an individual, the meaning of success changes with age as well.
Personally, I have come to realise that success is much more than money, fame or power. It is difficult to describe what success is. Vaguely, I think it is something to do with happiness. If you are in a state of contentment, have days filled with joy, irrespective of how much money you have, how famous and powerful you are, you can consider yourself successful. Again, there is no inverse correlation either. It does not mean that wealthy, famous and powerful people are not happy or successful. Just that like your school report card, these are not the only measures of success.
This reunion had a simple message for me: a gold medal in school does not guarantee a gold medal in the race of life.