People generally think that great achievers are superhuman or singularly talented people. However, no one sails through life without bumping into obstacles and suffering various setbacks. A study brings out some primary qualities which achievers have. First and foremost, they have a great sense of mission and a strong desire to turn everything that comes their way into reasonable account. Secondly, they concentrate on being result-oriented so that one is not just preoccupied with unceasing activities but with a definite outcome of their efforts. Thirdly, they take stock of whatever knowledge and skills they have and bring out what is latent and waiting to be used to turn it up to a peak of perfection.

People often make the mistake of thinking that achievement is about adding to one’s knowledge and skills, while in reality, it is about the skill of developing what is already there—capacities of which we are sometimes barely aware. Frequently, one is an initial sense of mission that taps these hidden resources.



"I have reached my present position by climbing a ladder and not by coming up to it in a lift." This observation was made by a tailor who had started with nothing but his own two hands and the will to work, and who had become eminently successful in his line of business. "Making a good coat is not child's play. The whole process is so complicated that without detailed information as to how to proceed, long experience and a high degree of skill, it is almost impossible to accomplish. It is only after a lifetime of hard work that I have succeeded in running a prosperous shop in the city."


The tailor went on to explain how he had served his apprenticeship under the guidance of an expert tailor. Just learning the art of cutting and sewing had taken him five long years. When he opened his own little shop, he discovered that he had difficulty in giving his customers a good fitting. This was because during his apprenticeship he had never really grasped the fact that people could be of such different shapes and sizes. He therefore set himself to the task of studying human anatomy, but it was only after many years of effort that he could make a coat with an absolutely perfect fitting. He eventually became so expert in this that he could even give perfect fittings to those who unfortunately suffered from deformities-such as hunchbacks. "In any type of work, there are many things which one has to learn on one's own. Often one cannot foresee these things at the outset, and each obstacle has to be overcome by hard work and ingenuity."


The tailor talked of many things of this nature concerning his skills, and it seemed to me as though I were listening to a lecture on the building of the nation by some very experienced person.


In truth, the only way to solve our economic and social problems is to follow the example of the tailor. After this initial apprenticeship, he had gone ahead and done things on his own. He had gone up by the stairs and not by the lift. There are no buttons, which you can just push and then automatically reach your goals. You can only make progress step by step. Progress can seldom be made by leaps and bounds. By means of the ladder you can progress even to the stage of owning the lift, but you cannot make a success of your life by starting with the lift and expecting it to do everything for you.

Super achievers become what they are by making the best use of resources available to them. They put to good use the natural talent God has gifted them with. Those who are unable to do this fail to achieve success. Some acknowledge this fact while others just keep complaining about lack of opportunities.

Speaking Tree| TOI | April 2, 2011

The World champions often possess equal physical strength and capabilities, and receive training of an almost equal standard. Then why does one win and another lose? This question has been a topic of research in America for the past three years. The report of the group of scientists working on this has recently been published.


They chose the top international wrestlers and made comparisons of their physical strength and psychological reserves. They found out that there is one marked difference between the winners and the losers in world competitions. It is not a physical difference, yet it plays the most crucial role in winning or losing a competition. The experts discovered that the winners were more conscientious and in control of themselves than the losers. The report is summed up as follows:


"Losers tended to be more depressed and confused before competing, while the winners were positive and relaxed."(The Times of India, 26 July 1981). This applies equally to the broader field of life. In life when two individuals or two groups confront one another, their victory or defeat does not depend so much on material resources as on intellectual and psychological reserves.


The conviction that one's goals are worthwhile, the observation of discipline with no contradiction between words and thoughts, cool thinking, even in times of crisis-all these are qualities of mind and heart which determine success, and obviate failure in the wider field of life.

At a Doordarshan panel discussion on 'The Scientific Temper', (New Delhi, June 2, 1998-including, besides myself, a central Minister, a social activist, a professor, an English journalist and a lady educationist), I quoted Pandit Nehru as having said as early as 1947, that what his country required more than anything else was just that-the scientific temper. I further made the point that we need to know exactly what is meant by this expression. Broadly interpreted, it means having a realistic attitude. In one of his prayers, the Prophet is recorded as having asked God to enable him to see things just as they are (Allahuma arenal ashyaa kama heya). This clearly indicates that having the scientific temper, or pursuing a scientific line of thought, is the equivalent of coming to grips with reality.

We live in a world, which has an existence of its own, functioning according to its own immutable principles. Scientific thinking is, therefore, extremely important for the successful development of both the individual and the nation. The secret of success is to see the world around us with an open mind and to acquire an understanding of the laws of nature. This approach will produce positive results, enabling one to form correct judgments about things as they actually are. This is what is meant by having the scientific temper. In this world, the real achievers are those who, by fostering this bent of mind, are able to confront the truth.

Scientific thinking, largely, is a question of ratiocination based on facts. This applies equally to the world of matter and to human affairs. For instance, if you have to build a bridge over a river, the science of engineering will tell you to build it from iron and not from clay. Similarly, if you want to harvest a particular crop, the science of horticulture will tell you not only that you must sow the seeds of that crop (and not for example plastic pellets!) but also how to irrigate and fertilize them.

Similar principles apply in the human world. Good results can be achieved only if full account is taken of all of the relevant facts. Failing this, the desired outcome will remain elusive. If, for example, you want someone to be your supporter, the science of psychology will tell you that you must activate his conscience and appeal to his better feelings. But if, on the contrary, you speak or act in such a way that his ego is hurt, you will turn him into an enemy. If you want to receive something from someone, you shall have to become in his eyes a giver, and not just a beneficiary, for it is a matter of common experience that most people are used to giving only to those from whom they receive. Then, if you aspire to a position of honour, you had best be unassuming in demeanour, because it is the modest man and not the egoist who makes the greatest impression on the better side of human nature. It is the unpretentious individual who is most likely, therefore, to attain to a position of honour and prestige.


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