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Some chatter about old films and how we define success

September 8, 2016

Written by

Jun Huh, Chief Technology Officer

Warning: This post contains very mild spoilers for some films that have been made around 70 to 80 years ago. Also, today’s post is unrelated to Mohiomap.

This post is about some old films, how we define success, and some other things. As an extremely wealthy, powerful, and successful man (and humble); I would like to share my thoughts.

Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin are two great comic filmmakers of the silent era. Their films, after three quarters of a century already, have aged very gracefully. Both made comedies, but they leave you with very different feelings. Keaton's comedies are hilarious whereas Chaplin's are sad.

The tramp was a character portrayed by Charlie Chaplin repeatedly in his films. He was perpetually in hardship and trouble, but we always watched him endearingly as the tramp always acted with dignity. He would not always make the wisest decision, but his intentions were always for good, or for love. He perseveres and persists and eventually fate would have the upper hand and push him back to where he started.

Chaplin's comedies leave us with sadness because the tramp's over the top persistence and failures can be humorous to an outsider, but in fact, he represents our struggles for our own integrity and dignity. We leave the theater filled with thoughts and hearts moved.

As I mentioned (watch out, here the spoilers come), despite the wild journeys, the tramp goes back to the starting point full of hardship. His journey may look like a failure to some, but I see it as a great success. It is a success because he always did the best he could in the given situation, without sacrificing his dignity and morals. We know he will be alright because he can persevere, and his moral integrity is fortified.

Can we redefine success with other metrics that may be better aligned with our values?

We often measure success by one or two metrics. More often than not financial success would be the first thing people think of, which of course is very important. Yet, most of us have our own values that we will not part with just for an extra dollar. Can we redefine success with other metrics that may be better aligned with our values? For example happiness, integrity, spiritual growth, and self discovery. These are just some things that I can think of that are far more important to me than monetary gains. Then also there are things like societal contribution, intellectual stimulation, and various other things. These are often difficult to measure or keep track of, but that should not be the reason we neglect these other dimensions. After all, they define who we are, not the numbers inside our bank account.

My personal film hero is Andrei Tarkovsky, a Russian filmmaker who has dedicated his life creating films in search for the truth, creating works of art that are spiritual. My favorite being Andrei Rublev, a film about a talented icon painter in the 15th century Russia who questions what it means to create, and the purpose of art at the times of war and cruelty. Fascinating topic portrayed in a very sincere manner. Ironically, Chaplin as a filmmaker, unlike his character, was a savvy businessman who had achieved even more success financially.

‍A painting by Andrei Rublev

Are we defining our success correctly? Does your goal align with your values? How about defining wealth and power?

Wealth can range from monetary value through to objects, but can also be defined with intellectual properties, your character, authenticity, and love. Power can be thought of as the ability to control others and get things done, but power can also be the ability to shape the society, imagination, creativity, freedom, self expression, capacity to understand, and being free of desires.

I wrote this post so that together we can reevaluate some of these definitions that are often skewed by societal pressures. I wrote this as an extremely wealthy (with love), powerful (with the ability to stay happy), and successful (in self discovery) man.

I’ll leave you with this very sad clip from Chaplin’s City Lights:


About the author

Jun Huh, Chief Technology Officer

Jun leads our continually growing software engineering team and has many years of experience with the development of visualization software, in both commercial and in research enviroments.

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