There are six goalposts for success that anyone can achieve, says R Gopalakrishnan of Tata Sons in his new book


How do you ensure that you meet with success in all spheres of your life? Only if there were some quick fix-it for that question.
R Gopalakrishnan, non-executive director of Tata Sons and an author of several books, has come out with his latest book SIX LENSES – Vignettes of Success, Career and Relationships, that places the answer to the query to finding the right niche that one can slide in comfortably. And when one is able to find that sweet spot, as it were, success becomes the process without one having to struggle to achieve it.

The book, released last week, looks at many facets of an individual’s interaction with the world through the metaphor of an optician’s lens. Anyone who has gone to buy prescription glasses would know that once the clunky eye-testing frame is balanced on one’s nose, the lenses have to be changed and rotated repeatedly to improve vision till one finds the right lens for clarity.

The rotation of each lens changes the clarity and the view and the viewer can be subjected to zillion perspectives, says Gopalakrishnan and likens that to an individual’s perception of events in life watching and judging things through the lenses on each eye. The left eye, he says, represent work priorities and the right eye views relationships across the whole spectrum of family, school, college, society, friends, etc.

DNA and shape
“Your life is largely determined by a non-negotiable component, i.e., your DNA. Your unique DNA and the perceptions formed by the way you view events and people in the world around you will impact each facet of your life or your ‘shape’. It is when you find and fit into the gap that has a ‘shape’ like you, you feel successful and fulfilled,” says Gopalakrishnan.

The author uses his vast repertoire of experience from his college life, work life at two blue chip firms and the various people he has met, some exceptional ones he has been closely associated with and the many he has read about to distil into a book that is a fun read but also one that sets the reader thinking. Gopalakrishnan hasn’t been able to give up the temptation of dipping into epics to drive home his point.

Gopalakrishnan explains the facets that he has highlighted in the book with numerous examples of people, some of whom we have heard and read about. He also peppers his narrative with vignettes from ‘ordinary’ people as he terms them who he knows individually and have achieved the high watermark in life. Some of these ‘ordinary’ people happen to be Jamshed Irani – the man who led Tata Steel to blazing glory, corporate leader Nihal Kaviratne, and also Gopalakrishnan’a wife, Geeta Gopalakrishnan, Honorary Director at Tata Medical Centre!

In an exclusive tete-e-tete with Firstpost, Gopalakrishnan breaks down the six facets that are important goal posts for every individual and how they can be optimized so that happiness becomes the medium and the end result of each of them.
The existentialist question of Purpose is what the author wants each of us to answer to ourselves. Purpose pertains to mindset or one’s belief about life’s aim. It boils down to ‘what do you want to do in life?’ Got you in a tangle, did it?

Gopalakrishnan says each person is able to find her calling. “Unless an individual finds that, she will be restless,” he says.

The other lenses he holds up in the book are Authenticity, Courage, Trust, Luck, and Fulfilment.

Advice to start-ups
One did not want to let go of an opportunity to ask Gopalakrishnan how he viewed the large number of start-ups on the Indian business landscape and what would he advice their founders so that they can orchestrate success in their ventures.

Gopalakrishnan slices the start-up journey to four stages:

Birth – founding of the start-up, Growth – charting a strategy to grow and succeed, Maturity – when it is no longer a baby but is maturing as an adult and, Challenges – Growing to old age and how to avoid death.

“It is great to have a lot of start-ups as it is a time of excitement when there are babies in the family. But after they are born, it is the parents’ responsibility to nurture them so that they grow well. A start-up can be subject to disease, viruses, etc. It is important to have a strategy and also a lot of control over funds. As it achieves success, it is important it also matures. The owner/s ego should not come into play for that will stifle the growth of the company,” he relates.
There you are: Mantras for life and work as individuals and founders.

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