Definitive Success

How do you define success? Is it an end result? Is it something you strive for? Or is success a moving target to which you pace yourself?

What is success?

What is required to ‘be’ a success?

When it comes to success, the first thing I tell myself is that it is relative. The benchmarks I set for myself to be successful will be different to that of my neighbour. The second thing about success that I always remember is that the journey to reach the destination of success is paramount.

It is interesting to consider that there are six types of ‘opulence’, and each can be regarded as a measurement of success: strength; fame; wealth; knowledge; beauty; renunciation. So, when people talk about success, everyone’s definition will be different. Yet, despite the difference in definition, the essence is the same.

But what determines success? I would not want to relate success to wealth or having a certain amount of money in the bank; I would sooner relate success to knowledge and renunciation. Athletes may associate success with strength, while politicians may associate it with power, and a model may regard success as a measurement of beauty.

Fame is also a form of opulence, but you can be famous but not necessarily wealthy, another form of opulence. In life, you can have one and not another… are you still a success? Are you a failure? Such a question has haunted many a man, but in truth, success is not just ‘one’ thing. In light of this realisation, it is truly beneficial to continually challenge your own perception of success, and come to terms with your own relative, definitive benchmark for success.

But not only is success relative, it is a journey. Would I turn my back on an opportunity just because it was a lot of hard work? If I never set myself goals for which I had to better myself in the process of achieving, then how could I consider myself successful? What have I really achieved if the difficulty of the process wasn’t proportionate to the success of the end achievement?

The journey is more important than reaching the destination and it is within that journey that we grow and uncover the true meaning of success. A certain path of activity will bring you to a certain type of destination. Change that activity, change that habit, and you change that destiny.

You can’t change your destiny of NOW because your past is behind you. But you can change your destiny of TOMORROW because the future looms ahead. Change the nature of your activity, then you can change the fruit that you will be enjoying or suffering. This doesn’t allow us to determine success, but it allows us to see it for what it really is… a journey that is unique and relative to each and every one of us.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

Never Fear Your Opportunity to ‘Show Cause’

I’m often approached by people in my business for advice or to share their problems. The thing is, more often than not, these ‘problems’ are actually opportunities – whether an opportunity to better serve their customers and colleagues, or an opportunity to improve themselves.

Just the other day, someone came to me quite stressed and worried because he had been given a ‘show cause’ letter. He was almost beside himself. I asked him why he would be worried about being given a ‘show cause’ letter? I told him that he should actually be happy. This letter shows that they respect him, and they’re giving him an opportunity to share his side of the story. His answer to this was, “But you don’t understand! They’re questioning me! I must defend myself!”

I asked him why would he not want to be questioned and why he thought he had to ‘defend’ himself? For, it is in being questioned that keeps us on our toes and forces us to question ourselves in a quest to improve ourselves. His attitude to the situation was stemming directly from fear and insecurity, and this led to his instantly defensive reaction.

After our discussion, he was able to see the situation from an entirely different perspective, and I could almost physically see the stress leaving his eyes and his defiance and ego disintegrating into a new recognition of the situation; of the opportunity.

It is unfortunate, but fear and insecurity happens in the workplace and in our personal lives everyday. Together, they act as almost insurmountable hurdles to our own development and as proverbial blinders to opportunity.

Ignorance is the root cause of fear. If we are ignorant to our own faults, we allow fear and insecurity to breed within us. We will defend ourselves and we will always be too conscious of what others think of us… and this is to our own detriment. If we are ignorant, we will build up a façade of someone we’re really not. We will build a wall around us that we think is protecting us, but all it is doing is imprisoning us. It is denying our insecurities, instead of allowing us to face them. If we live like this – if we live in fear of scrutiny and in insecurity – we will never be able to be happy. We’ll always be trying to be someone we’re not and always trying to live up to what we want others to think of us, instead of just being who we truly are.

Think of a mouse that is stealthily crawling and sneaking around trying to steal food and living totally in the fear that someone will step on them or lure them into a mouse trap. The mouse has no peace or happiness, for he lives in fear and insecurity. Although the world is a dangerous place, we are human beings and we can release ourselves from this fear by simply giving up this false ego; by giving up all of our walls.

The nature of the soul is that we want to love and be loved. We cannot openly and fully do that from within our walls of fear and insecurity.

In the workplace, there is nothing worse that not being able to accept criticism. We think that if we don’t cover our mistakes and if we don’t defend ourselves against criticism, that we will be seen as incompetent and that we’ll be fired. We are always in fear of judgement.

But we are all imperfect. And when we realise that we are imperfect, we are much more understanding about others’ imperfections. And if we have that understanding of ourselves and of others, then humility becomes a natural by-product. It’s not bad when you see other people who are better than you. Accept it. Learn from it. There’s no reason to pretend you’re better than them. Why the competition? That’s stressful! You are causing your own stress and that’s unnecessary baggage for you, not them. When you feel good about yourself, it radiates out to others.

If you want my advice… my basic, humble advice, then it is quite simply to be down-to-Earth. Be real. Accept an opportunity to improve, when at first you may think that someone is challenging you or criticising you. Real humility is courage. Courage is accepting what you are, despite your disabilities. Real humility is service. And that is our core. What is the greatest service? To turn materialistic consciousness into spiritual consciousness… this is humility. This is courage. This is true service to humanity.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

Yoga: More Than Just an Hour at the Gym

I am heartened and happy to see that the practice of Yoga has seemingly spread throughout the world. Yoga, in its many forms, is something that I have practiced every day for many, many years, and to know that this quest for enlightenment is being shared by millions of people around the world is a reassuring thought to me.

But I also worry that people don’t realise that going to the gym and ‘doing Yoga’ is not what it’s all about. I find it amusing when people say, “Oh, I’ve just come from yoga.” I think to myself if they realise that what they’re really stating is that they’ve just come from a union with The Supreme Person.

Yoga is almost ageless in its origins. It is a quest for enlightenment and ultimately it is the quest for union with The Supreme Person. Without this quest and purpose, Yoga is no longer Yoga, but rather an exercise routine. Since its introduction to the modern, mainstream world, Yoga has been associated more with ‘Yoga mats’, gymnastic exercise and the fitness of body, more than it has been associated with its true purpose. What many have not realised is that Yoga does not start and end with specific movements of the body and a peacefulness of the mind – that is Hatha Yoga, made up of asanas, or poses. Yoga certainly does include these aspects, but its purpose – as opposed to its action – is much harder to achieve and practice, yet it is the core definition of Yoga.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means ‘union with The Supreme Person’. The closest English word to Yoga is ‘yoke’, such as when you ‘yoke’ two animals together. When you yoke them, you are uniting them. The very nature of that union is not merging, but two distinct entities uniting together as one. Yoga follows this same meaning; it is when two individuals – the practitioner and The Supreme Person – come together in love and in purpose. So, the real meaning of Yoga is union with The Supreme Person, and the very nature of that union refers to a loving devotion and service, called bhakti. This is why true Yogis (those who study Yoga) and true Yoga masters understand that Yoga is a means to an end, but the end as well – it is achieving union with The Supreme Person through the practice of devotion and union with that Supreme Person; through bhakti.

It may come as a surprise to some to know that Yoga can be performed without a defined choreography of physical movement; many forms of Yoga are actually quite far removed from the common association of yoga mats, stretching and breathing that today is commercially synonymous with the modern concept of Yoga (Hatha Yoga). Just one example of this is Jnana Yoga. Jnana in Sanskrit means ‘the path of knowledge’. It is the system of understanding The Supreme Person through the research of scriptures, the understanding of knowledge and the process of learning. The purpose is the same as with any other form of Yoga: to unite with The Supreme Person. However, the way in which this is done is through acquiring knowledge, as opposed to the more commercial notion of Yoga and Yoga mats.

The true beauty of Yoga is that it doesn’t matter if a practitioner realises the depth of meaning, purpose, or desired destination of practicing Yoga. Regardless of whether people realise it or not, even if they are just going to a few Yoga classes a week in an effort to be more ‘fit and healthy’, they won’t be able to help but to start realising that they have to practice mercy, that they have to be clean with their body, mind and soul. They will often drift towards vegetarianism. If they practice even the elementary levels of Yoga properly, it is leading them to the quest of a union with The Supreme Person.

So, even when people are exposed to the preliminary, commercial Yoga, they will reap the benefits. But they should not think, “This is all there is to Yoga”. Just like an ocean, Yoga is almost limitless and it can be almost impossible to understand its depth. But just as we can have a good idea of the ocean and what it is by analysing a drop of it, so too can we peak into the ‘bigger picture’ of Yoga by practicing even the basics.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group