Success: How much is enough?

In the early 1980s, a talented young guitarist was thrown out of his band. The band had just signed their first record contract, and they were preparing to record their first album. A week before they began recording, they threw out the guitarist. No warning, no discussion. The guitarist woke up and was handed a bus ticket to head back home.

The guitarist was demoralised, disheartened, and felt betrayed. No one considered his side of the story or cared to know how he felt. At the most crucial moment of the band’s short career, he was abandoned by those he trusted the most.

He promised himself to start a band of his own. He would start a band so amazing and so successful that his old band members would regret throwing him out. He would reach a position where his old band members would spend the rest of their lives thinking about what a horrible mistake they had made. His ambition would make them pay for their disrespect and disloyalty.

He went on to recruit better musicians than before. He wrote and rehearsed religiously. His desire for revenge fueled his passion. His rage ignited his creativity. Within a few years, his new band had signed a record contract of their own and was ready to take on the world.

The guitarist’s name was Dave Mustaine, and the band he formed was called Megadeth. Megadeth went on to sell over 25 million albums and tour the world many times over. Today, Mustaine is considered to be the most brilliant and influential musicians in all of the heavy metal music industry.

Unfortunately, the band he was kicked out of was called Metallica. Metallica has since sold over 180 million albums worldwide, and they are considered by many to be the greatest heavy metal band of all time.

Due to this very reason, in a rare intimate interview in 2003, a tearful Mustaine admitted that he couldn’t help but still consider himself a failure at times. Despite all he had accomplished, he was still the guy who got kicked out of Metallica. Tens of millions of albums sold. Concerts performed to screaming stadiums of fans. Millions of dollars earned. And yet, a failure.


This wasn’t good enough

This is a story that I stumbled upon very recently which got me thinking, how would I or anyone else really measure their successes and how much of it is really enough? Was I happy with what I had achieved or was I overburdened and intimated by what others success stories are? At that moment I began comparing myself to everyone around me. I didn’t even have to go far, my brother’s success was enough to make me feel like a failure.

After which I started thinking about all my friends, which made me feel even worse, as all of them had steady jobs and were earning a decent amount of money, whereas I was staying at my parent’s house with no money. I then went back to reading the story all over again for about good 10-15 times. I just read about it and kept analysing Dave’s thoughts and came to the conclusion that what really is the metric to measure success?

The society would measure success as having a lot of money, a high paying job or business, a beautiful penthouse, a swanky car, the trending gadget, clothes straight out of runaway or vogue magazine, dining at fancy restaurants, taking luxurious holidays to exotic destinations and a plethora of other material luxuries. We all are trained to define success in terms of the things mentioned above.  Sure, having all of these luxuries certainly feels good but it important to remember that they’re not infinite. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to them.

“Many of society’s metrics are useful measurements for us. Many of them are not.” – Anonymous

A lot of my extended family have an insane amount of money, always travel business class, drive the fanciest of cars, travel to marvellous foreign destinations twice a year and yet they never feel fulfilled, happy or successful. I surely don’t have all of these luxuries (actually most of them), neither will I be having them anytime soon. This doesn’t make me a failure because I get to choose how I would like to measure my success.

I could have easily got submerged in my thoughts of being a failure but I am glad that I didn’t. I decided that I would choose to have deep meaningful experiences over having a high paying job. I would choose happiness and peace of mind over material luxuries. My blog post might not be having a large readership but I am still happy and would call myself a successful blogger. After all, it’s all in how you choose to measure success.

Coming back to Dave Mustaine, he felt like a failure after decades of enormous material success because his metric for success was one-dimensional: being better and more popular than Metallica. What if Mustaine had instead chosen happiness as his metric? What if he decided to measure his success based on how widely and enthusiastic his music was received by people, and how well he felt he was expressing himself artistically?

That would have changed everything.

This leaves me with the question –



This is not an easy question to answer. Do think about it and let me know your views.

8 thoughts on “Success: How much is enough?

  1. Vishant Agarwal says:

    I had a good time reading this. Very thoughtful Shiwangi Agarwal. Yes I also believe Now that Success means how good I feel today about myself today than how I felt before,if I feel better about myself Now I am successful.


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