VG Siddhartha’s Death Makes Us Think: Are We Lonelier As We Succeed?

Posted: August 3, 2019

The recent death by suicide, of noted entrepreneur VG Siddhartha, raises the question of how alone he may have felt. Is that the price we pay as we go up the ladder of success?

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the Crown”.

I first heard this proverb as a kid, and as it happened with kids in that generation, accepted it as a truth because the elders told us to. I admit though that I never understood the real meaning until much later. Last week, I was reminded of it yet again!

The recent suicide of VG Siddhartha, Founder of Coffee Café Day, has shocked the nation, and while we mourn the loss of this precious life, his tragic loss certainly compels us to ponder and question.

We still don’t have all the details, but going by the public information and his last letter to his employees, one thing that comes out clearly is that, amongst other things, he was deeply troubled and overcome with a sense of being a failure. For a person of his stature, failure was certainly not new, yet this time, it came to him with a sense of finality. This has opened up many a discussion around the big question: Could this have been avoided?

His letter indicates that he had not shared his agony with anyone. What if, he had decided to talk about this perceived failure? Would life have been kinder, would he have been spared the harsh judgement of society? This, we will never know. But, while the debate around the role of external elements and pressures continues, one thing, we cannot deny is that his stature and image as a well-known successful entrepreneur did not serve him well in this hour of perceived failure. And why was that so?

Is self-doubt or perceived failure really such a grievous fault?

Haven’t we all been there, and know too well that we will still go there from time to time? Is it then something to do with being at the top or ‘wearing that crown’?

We all remember the early days of our chosen career, where we embraced many a failure in the name of learning, and at the time, we always had some senior folks to guide and mentor us, to talk. But 20 years later, as a Leader/Business head, how easy is it to do the same or even have someone who you can walk up to and say “I failed” or “I don’t know” or” I need help”?

Yes, the expectation is that we should know how to handle it as we are “senior’ or ‘more experienced’. But in the real world, can experience and seniority always be the answer? Can it always eliminate or help dodge/deal with that self-doubt with a perfect sense of calm? Is it really that easy? And why not?

Perhaps it is the fear of being judged…the fear of losing that ‘halo’…and many a times simply the lack of the right ‘go to’ person.

And this brings us to the next big question. Is there something that we can do to manage it all better? Like most puzzles of life there certainly is no ‘one size fits all’ solution here, but a few reminders can certainly help.

  • Wear our success lightly – It helps to remind our selves that success like most other things is transient and professional success is not and can never be the ‘end all’ and ‘be all’ of our lives
  • Empathize a bit more with ourselves and others – Let’s stop playing the judge, always. No one deserves to be judged harshly. Be kind to yourself and others. We all deserve this.
  • Accept and understand that emotions are not a weakness – It is ok for one to feel low sometimes or seek help. The ability to understand and express our emotions is a key component of our EQ and the good news is that the world is opening up and talking about EQ more and more.
  • Practice Gratitude – We’ve all heard about the power of Gratitude. Make it a habit in times of despair. Nothing can be  more uplifting than being grateful for all that we’ve got.
  • Above all, communicate. Speak out your mind, you don’t need to go solo! There is help, there is support…and for that, always have a safety net of family and friends. Invest time with them, not just during hours of crisis, but just as a matter of habit. Share, unburden, relish, and live…
  • And of course, don’t ever shy away from seeking professional help from a Coach or Counselor

“The bad news is nothing lasts forever, The good news is nothing lasts forever.” ― J. Cole

Image credits Brand Realty

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