in Career Development, Great Quotes, Improvement & Development, Leadership, Leading the Self

Excellence: Lessons From Anupam Kher

I have believed that most good things in life are either free or inexpensive. A good walk, a great hug, a few moments spent together, a long drive, a free lecture, time spent with friends and so on.

I write this because over the weekend, I experienced some of these. Monsoon is at its best. Cool weather and Friendship Day on a Sunday!

I visited an interactive session with one of the greatest Indian actors Anupam Kher at Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) as a part of “Face to Face with Achievers of Excellence” program. Anupam Kher needs no introduction to the Indian audience, but for the others, Anupam Kher is one of the best actors in contemporary cinema who has worked in over 400 films and 100 plays winning a number of awards including Padma Shree.

Anupam talked about excellence – as he sees it. He delivered some simple yet powerful messages on excellence while narrating the tale of his life and career. Here is a quick summary of those powerful lessons:

  • Be your own enemy: We get too bogged down by comparisons and competition. On the road to excellence, you are your own benchmark. You have to be your strongest critic.
  • Remain curious: We are born curious, but as we grow, we loose our sense of wonder along the way. Never stop dreaming.
  • Failure is overrated: Schools and colleges sell the fear of failure. In pursuit of excellence, failures make you better. Failures bring us closer to ourselves and makes us do more. World does not stop if we fail, so do things you love doing, and if you fail, learn from it. Consistent success can sometimes become boring. Henry Ford said this, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
  • Be comfortable with self: Most people spend their lives trying to become someone else. Be yourself and be comfortable with who you are. You can only excel in life when you are happy with who you are. (Read my piece on self-actualization)
  • Don’t stop trying: When you see your goal clearly, the hurdles become invisible. That does not mean hurdles are not there. They just become insignificant. When faced with hurdles, don’t stop trying. Anupam shared a great quote, “When you try, you risk failure. When you don’t try, you ensure it.”
  • Honesty and hard work: Once you know what you are good at, you need a lot of honesty (with self and with others) and hard work. I would add that persistence is equally important.

These lessons (and more) were nicely wrapped in powerful personal stories that engaged the audience. While all these things were known and read somewhere, a lecture like this with successful people helps a great deal in reinforcing them to your belief system.

I am inspired on this Monday morning, and you too have an upbeat start into the week.

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P.S: Jason Seiden at “Fail Spectacularly” blog has hosted the latest Carnival of Leadership Development featuring my post “5 Ways to Build Trust” Lessons from a Conversation)” along with a host of other GREAT posts on leadership and executive development. Check it out – some great ideas waiting to be explored!

  1. Hi TV,

    thank you so much for sharing with us this inspiring lessons. I liked the most: be your own enemy. Yes, have expectations only from yourself, be tough on yourself, give yourself a feedback and never stop learning.

    Have a wonderful week ahead folks,
    keep on making difference.

    .-= Ivana Sendecka´s last blog ..Video Question Of the Week 30 =-.

  2. Thank you for sharing the lessons! I admire Anupam Kher and here it is his rich experience that is speaking.

    Sharing a poem that I read on Paulo Coelho’s blog by a Japanese calligrapher and poet Mitsuo Aida on the topic of being comfortable with oneself

    .-= Vamsi´s last blog ..Passing Thought =-.

  3. Great, Superb, Excellent!!
    I understand how good it is listening to such a legend live on such a topic.
    Mr.Anupam Kher has rightly spoted all above points. His quote – “When you try, you risk failure. When you don’t try, you ensure it.”, inspired me a lot.
    Thanks for sharing this Tanmay and igniting the motivational currents in us on start of the week.

    Have a fuitful week ahead!

    Jay Chhaya

  4. From the point – “Be your own enemy”, i remember one quote – “Always learn to challange your limits”

    Jay Chhaya

  5. This is the nice lesson for excellence.
    I like “Be your own enemy” and “Remain curious”. Curiosity is something which remain your self always hungry about something new. You will have many questions and then will have answers also, but if you let it go “Hota hai Chalata hai” type … then may be it will be harmful to you later on.
    Actually these all topics are on Self-observation.
    Thanks Tanmay for sharing such a important learning! 🙂


  6. I think this is incredibly invaluable advice. I think too many people are so scared of failure, they won’t even try something new. The biggest regrets are those things you haven’t tried, not the ones you’ve failed at.

  7. @Ivana – Thanks for the comment. I loved that one too. Too often, parents end up comparing their kids with others. One of the urgent need of the day is to teach kids to be their own competitors – and not get anxious by all the competition around.

    @Vamsi – Thanks for sharing that brilliant poem on being comfortable with yourself.

    “If tomatoes wish to be melons
    they will become a farce.
    I am amazed
    that so many people are busy
    wanting to be what they are not;
    why become a farce?”


    @Jay – Thanks for the comment and your support to this blog as ever.

    @Megha Thanks! I am so glad you liked the post! Stay Curious 🙂

    @Liz – That is so true. When all is said and done, our biggest regret is things that we never tried.

    @Ishan – Thanks!

  8. Hello Tanmay,
    Very nice post. It is full of the motivational art which one should follow on the way of success.

    • @Sanjay Jain – Thanks Sanjay. I am so glad you liked the ideas presented by Anupam Kher. It was a delight to watch him in action, cracking jokes, sharing stories and the journey of his life.


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