What do you define as success? Is it having millions? Having a 100 room mansion? Having lots of cars? Girls? Boys? Mingling with celebrities?
Here is one man who does none of those. Ok, meeting with celebrities maybe as thatâ€™s his line of work but nothing else. Is he successful?
Let me see. Following is an excerpt of his schedule for 2 weeks.
I go to India on the Friday of the week before Thanksgiving. I am Sunday morning in Bombay. Monday morning I am in Delhi. Wednesday I’m in Bombay. Thursday I’m in Bangalore. Saturday I’m in Trivandrum. Wednesday I’m in Johannesburg. Friday morning, at seven, I am in New York. I have a two-hour meeting with a CEO who has flown in to see me. I have two more meetings and I fly out that night to Dubai. I am in Dubai on Sunday and Monday, then I come back here. On Thursday night I fly out to Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Then I come back here. Tuesday morning I have a whole-day schedule in New York. Tuesday night I go to Milwaukee. I came from Milwaukee last night. They diverted my plane so I had to stay in Pittsburgh. I had a meeting this morning in Philadelphia. I had three meetings here in the afternoon. And I’m here tomorrow, with GE. Then an hour-and-a-half phone call. Then I’m going out tomorrow night to West Palm Beach. Monday morning I have a breakfast meeting in New York. And then I’m flying out to Perth, Australia.
While thatâ€™s one dream come to travel pour moi, and what I would not give to do this at the present point of time, the following excerpt puts the whole thing into perspective.
Before he was a consultant, Charan lived in dormitories. Before he was a professor and a student, he lived in YMCAs. Now he doesn’t live anywhere. Charan’s one nod to a conventional rooted life is the office he rents on North Central Expressway in Dallas (that’s the address on his passport – he is a U.S. citizen), but he can’t tell you anything about it because he’s never been there.
“I really thought the two ladies I interviewed with six years ago were just yanking my chain,” says Cynthia Burr, who manages Charan’s hideous schedule. “I said, ‘Where does he keep his stuff? Everybody has stuff.’ It’s really hard to wrap your arms around something like that, but it’s true.
Three days a week – on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – Burr and a colleague pack a cardboard box with shirts, underwear, and socks, perhaps a clean suit (there is a tailor at Neiman Marcus who has Charan’s measurements on file), and maybe a V-neck sweater or a pair of khaki pants. They toss in toothpaste, razors, shampoo, a shined pair of 9Â½ EEEE shoes, whatever he needs (“He doesn’t buy anything himself,” says Burr), and send it by FedEx to Charan’s hotel, wherever that may be. The box comes back two days later filled with dirty laundry.
A man who has never married (not a big deal), doesnâ€™t have a house (not a big deal either), but home either. Yes, no home.
Would this be success? Would I want to do this? For a month, definitely, for a year, maybe, for a decade, hmm……for a lifetime? I need a quiet place to ponder, to read books which take me to place I canâ€™t go and do things I canâ€™t do. I need people to love, to hug; could I live so detached a life?
Charan never complained.
Dedication to learning and teaching and service, to the whole set of Hindu virtues embodied by one of Charan’s favorite phrases, “Purpose before self.”
God! I wish I can!