In 2018, I tore one of my coronary arteries due to my quest for a trek to Everest base camp. I almost knocked the doors of heaven, with a potential for cardiac tamponade or a MI. Survived due to a presence of mind, great friends, and timely intervention. Yet, within three days I was in my OR, performing a major surgery, lasting nearly three hours. Next week, I trekked to Mullayanagiri, the tallest peak in Karnataka. That was the most daring thing to do, much to the anguish of my wife. I told her, “I would rather get killed in action, than succumbing to a debilitating disease like a lame duck!”
Dear all friends, at the outset, allow me to wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year, 2023. The beginning of a new year is only a change of date and does not significantly alter our lives. Yet, most of us make New Year resolutions and goals. And we forget them quickly also. However, if we use this opportunity appropriately, it can do a lot for us. Shiv Khera, of “You can win ” fame quoted, “Where are the people who don’t have goals headed? Those 97 percent end up working for the three percent.”
I ask my students, what is the primary goal of your life. Majority do not have one! If they have one, they are vague. Goals are important. Goals give us directions, a sense of purpose, and a path to fulfilment. To set the right goals, first we need to define what success means to us. Success is subjective and it means different for different people. One of the best definitions of success is given by a famous American teacher and an author, Earl Nightingale, “Success is progressive realization of a worthy goal.”
All goals during my early part of life were based on Earl Nightingale’s definition. I have written about having SMART goals, Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) in my earlier blogs. Based on these assumptions I used to show my Otological journey akin to mountaineering as shown in the picture. However, success itself can breed failures. Success presents us with even greater challenges. First challenge is, success enhances our self-confidence, pushing us into a comfort zone. Second, we attribute success to our talents, strategy and network, without giving due credence to external factors or random events. Third, we fail to find the actual reasons for our good performance and how we can leverage it for our future endeavours.
At the top of my glory, I too reached a dead-end when I wanted to provide a special medical device to my patients. I was unable to do so, despite having adequate funding. I strongly believed in Paolo Coelho’s words, “If you want to achieve something, the universe conspires to help you.” Contrarily, it appeared to me that the whole universe conspired against me! One of the beneficiaries of our training programs, and now a celebrated surgeon, once told me, “I wasn’t allowed to go inside, hence I went outside.” For a person, who had already conquered the outside, it was like getting sucked into a black hole.
Sometimes, solutions to our problems can come from unexpected corners. For me it came from my own spouse, who was aghast at my obsession.
She asked me, “How many patients can you help in your lifetime if you resolve this issue?”
She continued, “May be a few hundred or maybe a couple of thousands. Do something that can help millions. Forget going just inside. Explore beyond that. I believe in your capabilities. Use all your brilliance and talent to make your own device that is more robust and affordable. With that, you can help the whole world. Unnecessarily, you are alienating the people you loved, admired, idealized and worshipped.”
“Don’t try to change the people, change the world!” These words of wisdom came from my mother, a lady of five children, who lived all her life in a subtle way, yet made a significant impact on all of us. For a person who has changed thousands of individuals’ lives through Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), her profound words struck me like a thunderbolt. We NLP practitioners call them Anchors. And that trigger helped me to reframe my mindset. Perhaps that is the only instance in my life I have felt ashamed of myself for my earlier behaviour and I have regretted it. I did the course correction that day.
One of the most successful businessman and the founder of CNN, Ted Turner quoted, “You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for.” Now, I have changed Earl Nightingale’s definition to “Success is a progressive realization of worthy, JUST, and INFINITE goal.” Now, my goal has 8 components, and I call it “8-I” principle of goal keeping. They are:
Inspirited – A goal that is optimistic and affirmative.
Impactful – A goal that has a lasting effect and leaves a legacy behind.
Inclusive – A goal that is open for all to be part of the journey.
Irrepressible – A resilient goal that can endure adverse external factors.
Idealistic – A big, hairy, audacious goal that is ultimately UNACHIEVABLE.
Infinite – A goal that never ends, rather we go down fighting.
Improve – A service oriented goal that helps improve others life.
Inspiring – A goal that inspires others.
I know this goalkeeping framework appears intimidating and daunting. Yet with this approach, we scripted history on 26/12/2022. I even coded a strategy to exploit unused auditory potential.
James Cameron of Avatar said, “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” All great discoveries and inventions are made by people who had unrealistic and unachievable goals. For example, the Wright brothers who flew the first aeroplane. Or Maire curie who discovered radioactivity. Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” I have observed that any goal is achievable with a forward engineering and engineering reductionism approach. I will write about them in future.
Moreover, it is my conviction that small goals do not have enough power to stimulate great minds like yours. We all have equal potential, opportunities, time, and ambitions. Each one of us is born with a purpose. That purpose may help transform people and make our world a better place to live. It is often said, “Some people make this world more beautiful by just being in it.” And you could be the next one.
Go, set yourself a big, hairy and audacious goal on this New Year Eve, 2023.
Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B