SITBR – A Phrase To Live By

Originally posted on in 2011 at

SITBR is a phrase that I carry in me so deeply.

Recently Vinod, a Quality Specialist in the company I work at (Four Soft Limited) told me in a team meeting that he remembers this statement from me. It seems I had mentioned it long back  – in another meeting – just before we went for CMMI level 3 certification. Vinod said that after I talked about this phrase, it got imprinted in his mind and helped him work hard for the assessment. Months later, even now, it is still an inspiring and a motivating remark.

In fact I did not remember talking about it to Vinod in any meeting. However, I remember where I saw it first. I worked at FedEx, USA during 1998 – 2004 and it was on the walls of the cubicle of a colleague, Summer Weisberg who then worked in the quality assurance team. I didn’t talk to her about it when I was working at FedEx. But it stuck in my mind and I carried it with me for years now.

SITBR is the acronym for ‘Success is the best revenge’. A small phrase, but what a powerful statement. I have internalized it. It is my inner source of strength. I am glad that it had a positive impact on Vinod when I talked about it.

Which made me curious to know the origins of the phrase. First source was obviously the angelic Summer. I hadn’t kept in much contact with my colleagues at FedEx, so I was wondering how to communicate with her years later. But the power of social networking sites makes the world so small. A quick search in LinkedIn showed up Summer, so I connected with her and in no time was exchanging mails. I asked her to confirm if it was really in her cubicle that I saw the phrase, and what its source was. She wrote back confirming that the quote was posted indeed on her cubicle wall, that she also had internalized it, and it has helped her through many hard times in life. However, she was not aware of the origins of the quote.

I googled on the web, and looks like it is a French proverb.

During my net search, I found that a lot has been written using this phrase as the theme. Just as Vinod, Summer and I use the quote for personal inspiration and as a principle, people have used it in different situations and on different entities. Success is the Best Revenge is a movie, a book, a song, and the title of numerous motivational articles. In this post, I have sampled a few that make interesting reading.

The movie first. Polish director Skolimowski who emigrated to France used success is the best revenge as the title of his 1984 film. I haven’t seen the film – it is not available locally here – and had to rely on a scholarly essay by Professor Ewa Mazierska “Autobiographical Discourse in the Films of Jerry Skolimowski”. The movie is autobiographical in nature like many other of Skolimowski’s films. The director was made to leave Poland and the same thing happens to the character in the film. It also shows the tussle between father and son in the movie and as the father’s play is shown in London, which is the mark of attaining success, the son decides to return to Poland.

The film’s review on carries the thought provoking summary: “Most of all, this film shows Skolimowski at his most rigidly confrontational, exploding an avalanche of problematic symbols and ideas to address the frigid battle for psychological allegiance between East and West. In this game revenge represents neither success or failure, just natural instinct.”

Revenge is a natural instinct – it always has been and will be. The recently released Telugu movie “Rakta Charitra” quoted the lines on its posters:

ప్రతీకారమే లోక వినాశకం – మహాత్మగాంధి
ప్రతీకారమే పరమ సోపానం – మహాభారతం
Revenge IS world destruction – Mahatma Gandhi
Revenge (only IS) supreme nectar – Mahabharatam
(my translation)

Though it is the only passion as per the Mahabharatam, keeping in mind the Mahatma’s warning, success is the best response to it.

From movies, let’s move on to a motivational article – “Feeling Criticized? Success Is The Best Revenge” by Susan Sly. She recounts her own example of her meeting her high school mate Chris, falling in love with him and they decided to move in together. Her family was not at all supportive of the relationship. More than a decade of successful relationship has made the family critics now more understanding than earlier.

She writes, “You see, in your life, there will always be detractors. They will try to bring you down, keep you stuck and take you off of your path. You may want to shout at them, fight with them or even cut them out of your life. This is really too much wasted energy when the reality is that vengeance is sweet especially when you allow the success of your actions to do your fighting for you.”

Susan concludes, “Do not spend your time trying to get even or prove someone wrong, instead go for your dreams with passion and enthusiasm and know that your continued success will be all that it takes to silence some of your critics and perhaps even inspire them.”  Indeed, success is the best revenge.

The phrase is also the name of a book written by two HR professionals to show the way of how to deal with job uncertainties. Companies downsize. Companies restructure. I haven’t read the book but as per the description, the authors John Stewardson and Bob Evans give guidance on career planning. The introduction states that “From all their years of hiring and firing employees, together with placing executives the authors know only too well that stress and revenge can also play an ugly role. They believe that defining your career goals and attaining them is an utmost priority: ‘Success is not only the best revenge, it’s the best way to put your life back on track and reduce stress to manageable levels’.”

Catherine Hickland, author of “The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure: Getting Over Him and Back Out There One Month from Today” wrote about her friend who rebuilt her life as a writer after meeting a producer at – where else – waiting to meet her clinical psychologist for therapy sessions. The producer gave her a chance to write scripts again, she rebuilt her life and when her ex meets her, he sees her doing well, her remodeled kitchen and her new script. Catherine concludes: “Last but certainly not least, and I truly want you to take this in rather than just read it for billionth time in your life: “What do you know, it’s true after all.  Success is the best revenge!”

I have found similar articles on the net. In fact, this phrase seems to be very prominent and widespread advice for mending the heart break, especially for the women. For example, Tasha Cunningham expands on this and advises women on the site – I am replicating her suggestions verbatim:

“Too often after a bad breakup, women focus on hurting the guy who hurt them, instead of rejoicing in the fact that the horrible relationship is over and it’s time to move on. Make a clean break from your ex and put all your energy toward your own success, not getting back at him.

Second, you’ll be using your time to build a future for yourself instead of wasting time dealing with your ex and his nonsense. While he’s off having sex with random chicks for sport, you’ll be working on creating a new life for yourself.

And last, but not least, focusing on your success will keep you motivated to do your best. Plus, there’s always the chance you’ll run into him when you’re looking fabulous and doing well. That, girls, is the best revenge of all.”

And then the song.

The song ‘Success is the best revenge’ has more than a few instances of the f-word. Here are a few lines I can post:
Let it sink in
Here We are
back again
Harder faster
Better longer
Push us down
We get stronger

This is what Blood on the dance floor blogged about why the song was written: “Success is the best revenge! and should be served cold and brutal.. When Jay And I approached this song we wanted everyone that has been through drama.. abused.. dumped .. used .. fucked over or felt rejected to really make an anthem out of this song. To stand up and fight for your right to party. So that if you ever had a bad day you can play this song and know that we are here for you.. No matter how shitty your day gets! No matter how many haters made you famous..

This song is dedicated to everyone who’s ever felt different. To anyone who has ever gone through bullshit.. This is our FUCK YOU SONG! And being epic is our sweet revenge ;p”

Bollywood script writer Shibani Bathija tweeted on 23-Jul-2010 thus : “To feel joy, not envy for the happiness / achievements of others might be the single most enlightened bit of learning a parent can impart.”


When I read that tweet, I felt “success is the best revenge”, if not the most enlightened bit of learning, should be one of the most valuable lessons that our children should be taught and ingrained with.


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