Talent is Great. Character, is key


I remember having this conversation with one of my mentors: We were talking about how in life, the more you succeed (contrary to popular belief), the more freedom you give up. It was okay to be seen in a few places, with all sorts of people at a time when you were an unknown person, but the path we decide to take and the goal we set for ourselves severely restricts our freedom. Most people imagine that when you succeed, you gain more freedom – its quite the opposite. The more you succeed (and god forbid it comes with fame), the less of what you do will be seen as appropriate. Whether you like it or not, you are kept on pedestals and held to higher standards.

All these stories of people – and not folks who got to where they are by chance but by grit, determination, hard work and substance – falling from grace is a sobering reality. It can, infact, happen to anyone. We all know of presidents been caught in compromising positions as well.

At times i wonder if the frequency and the occurrences of slip ups have gone up with the recent generation though. I do think that people by default buried such “embarrassments rather quickly in the past, but the generation – one or two iterations ago, also learnt value systems in a very different way. They didn’t grow up in a world of instant coffee and 2 minute noodles atleast.

Back in the days of kings and kingdoms, i wonder if this is why it was necessary for princes when they reach a certain age – especially if they were heir to the thrones – to go on their “vanavaasams”, to abdicate luxury and to get a sense of ground reality before they were put on a position of absolute power. Perhaps its time to revisit some of those old values – especially if we have to sustain what we build, brick by brick.

A good friend recently said, “in order to achieve any decent work as an artist or creative person, you have to give yourself to become an asexual being. Someone that the world around you doesn’t see as raging of harmones”. That, I absolutely agree with.

Success is not freedom – that’s the myth. It’s a niche world that you make for yourself, where you continue limiting the choices in front of you. Most of the time, you get there by staying on the path. It’s even more important for you to keep at it, if you want to stay there and enjoy the view from what you have built. I’ll tell you the secret though: Its easier if you don’t have to fake it.

As a mentor once said, “Talent can take you to the top, but only character can keep you there”.

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