Me: My best friend and worst enemy

Forbes India asked me to decode why overachievers often trip before reaching the pinnacle of their careers. If you have the time, do read that piece here.

Meanwhile, here are my lessons, based on years of working closely with some of these great people; my 13 Golden Rules. If you are an overachiever (invariably you know) do read this one here. If you know someone who is, pass it along.

What Overachievers Can Do To Save Themselves

Overachievers are their best own friends and worst enemies. They do not need external forces to bring them to their knees. Too many of them do it to themselves. Here are 13 golden rules from Subroto Bagchi that can help them last longer and not come in their own way.

  1. Pace yourself: for a great professional, it is a marathon. Your work will spread over at least 40 years. Don’t burn at both ends of the candle. Be authentic, know that life has a larger purpose to achieve through you; using your ability to achieve, life wants to make an impact. Therefore, don’t be under any pressure to prove your one-upmanship to someone. Your talents are not meant to be gunpowder in the barrel of your ego.
  2. I always think of myself as a municipal water pipe. My job is to deliver the water, not quench my own thirst. My position and my authority are not meant for my gratification. Yes, they feel good. But I must know that they are not for personal consumption.
  3. I must own failures but deflect the success. This is the best way to create greater success. When I own failure, I learn valuable lessons; this process pre-supposes reflective space and that slows me down deep within; it is a very important part of regeneration. When I deflect success I no longer carry its burden. Success is heavy, we have just two shoulders.
  4. I must not trivialize my screw ups. I should relive them in my mind and seek forgiveness. Great people say sorry.
  5. Every overachiever very well knows the difference between the right and the convenient. In 98% cases, a CEO does not need a lawyer to tell him what the right thing to do is. Yet, sometimes, even the best among us fall prey to temptation: a fling, a bribe, waving a due diligence, a seemingly harmless favour from a supplier….anything. We are all human. So it is alright to be tempted but not alright to fall to the subsequent indiscretion. The trick is to pick up the phone when temptation begins and speak to someone with no vested interest in the matter and ideally, someone with a higher reputation capital than you. Ask for advice. When you do, make sure you give all the facts, not the biases.
  6. When people who have loved you a lot for a long time bring forth a cautionary note, please pay attention to it. It is life showing you the yellow card.
  7. What is common between politician ND Tiwari, self-styled Godman Nityananda, Straus-Kahn, Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods? High testosterone. This is a very common phenomenon among alpha males and history is replete with examples of countless powerful people fall, starting from the demon Mahishasura who even the Gods feared! Sexual proclivity beyond the ordinary is a disorder that can be treated with medicine and counselling. Zipper control can keep you longer at your job.
  8. Do not con yourself. No one can argue with a high achiever; many have the gift of gab. They think brilliantly and often come to a conclusion first, and then they retrofit the justification. Then they psych themselves. Reasoning does not work anymore. The argument and their chosen path of action look perfect in every which way. Then the man just steps into obscurity.
  9. A lot of overachievers get carried away with public rewards and recognitions. Trophy hunting overshadows real work. Beware, much of the reward and recognition business in the world is shallow, many are a business unto themselves and some, are a downright racket. Do the work; the recognition will follow.
  10. My dad always told me one thing: you are known by the company you keep. If you hang out with the wrong guys – seemingly harmlessly — and just for a few times for fun and then one day you seek to draw the line, it wouldn’t work. The wrong guy will return.
  11. Do not live on your professional fame alone. Keep a backup. One day you will need it. This is important for people who are to hang their boots in the next 5, 6, 10 years.
  12. Leave with grace. Do not cling on to your name, fame, role, and office, whatever. Leave gently, a little before you are asked to go. If things get difficult, go with grace. Do not immolate yourself in the town-square and ask people to come, watch. It makes for news only for that day.
  13. Last but not the least, pray. It keeps you subordinate to a larger power and that helps in a crisis. If you believe in God, use the toll-free number; know that it gets disconnected if not used periodically.

Atheists: just follow rule 1 to 12.

Satya Says
Friday July 27th 2012

Thank you Sir.

Great piece. Just taking a printout of it and putting on my study room as a daily sanity check and revisit. For me, Rule 13 is Rule no. 1. Everything may change, but not HIM…HE is always there. It is a great way to put it – Toll free number. Marvelous.

Thank you again.

Kamal Says
Saturday July 28th 2012

Amazing…Sir, you always come up with simple things but great meaning…I am glad to you put it up so simply yet everything you said makes so much sense…

Saturday July 28th 2012

Dear Gardener, this is a very useful post. Thank you.

Aditya Says
Saturday July 28th 2012

Excellent article. I loved the way you have beautifully presented some of the things that we already know, but fail to practice!

Saritha Auti Says
Sunday July 29th 2012

Great thoughts put in the simplest way. Thank you.


Srini Says
Monday July 30th 2012

Dear Subroto

Having worked at MindTree and observed you in close distance, I have seen you practicing all of these. Great advice. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

Mahesh Iyer Says
Monday July 30th 2012

Priceless and down-to-earth, which B schools dont teach.

Tuesday July 31st 2012

Great article. Its not only for the overachievers but also points to remember for every professional in their journey.

Thanks. Keep writing.

Padmahasta P Says
Tuesday July 31st 2012

Dear Sir, very reflective piece indeed. But i was curious , does it hold good for ordinary or some may say run of the mill kind of guy like me.


Tiju Says
Wednesday August 1st 2012

Great advice

Shantanu Says
Wednesday August 1st 2012

Dear Sir,
Wonderful piece, crafted and designed delicately , that can be followed by every individual in all the spheres of life. These thoughts and chapters are missing in our Academic days. If this could have been included in our academics, then a person would eneter the Job Arena in much professional and matured approch.Thanks Again..Last, not but the least, liked most the humor of Toll Free number aong with the message!! its like cherry on the cake..

Aakash Kumar Says
Thursday August 9th 2012

Again found a miracle thought through Golden Rules..

Mathusuthanan.N Says
Saturday August 11th 2012

Very nice piece…You continues to amaze me sir. Sharing this with near and dear. Let the know how spread…


anurag jadaun Says
Friday August 17th 2012

Earlier I did not know who you were. I saw a book named High performance Enterpreneur in my library , read it and found it worth reading. As of now I have read all your books. You are a very practical, keen observer of the society and this is what makes you different. Above piece too is beautifully written. Please be the torch bearer of the society and keep on writing.

Vidya Bhopi Says
Monday August 20th 2012

Golden rules indeed! Every one should try to follow them as far as possible. The world will be a great place to live in.

Mohammed Musheer T Says
Thursday August 30th 2012

The 13th rule is more than golden. You are a great inspiration sir.

Muthiah Says
Friday August 31st 2012

Golden rules!!!

Kamal Pandey Says
Monday September 3rd 2012

Hi Subroto
Great advice. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.


Monika Ojha Says
Tuesday September 4th 2012

Its my extreme mistake that I read this article of yours today,but after reading this i can say that you are rightly serving your purpose as gardener of Mindtree.Whatever you said is true especially about the presence of god at every walk of life.Thank you sir for enlightening us and i wish you keep on doing the same in future for our benefit.

Sathyanarayana C Says
Thursday September 6th 2012

Dear Sir,
I know these all 13 points are written with a great experience. You have learnt a lot of things from your life. One or the other day each and every person will realize thee points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with our young generation. I hope our generation keeps all these points in their mind and achieve their success.

kiran patra Says
Friday September 7th 2012

beautiful rules to apply in daily life…but it is very hard to maintain the same flow every day.

Jayatu Sen Says
Tuesday September 11th 2012

Excellent Read! Great results assured even if followed 50%!!

Lubna Says
Sunday September 16th 2012

I love the bit which says: Do the work recognition will follow. Sometimes, people (even I fall in this category)blow their own trumpets in a bid to gain quick recognition. I think such a quick-fix recognition gaining mechanism will only fail in the long run.

Friday September 21st 2012

Hi subroto,
Loved your blog

This makes me re collect what my Dad said “the day you feel you have overachieved for are finished “.

prasanna Says
Friday October 26th 2012

Thanks for sharing these thoughts, you have been a role model to youngsters

Monday July 1st 2013

Dear Mr. Bagchi, it’s so true. Our strengths, when overused, become our enemies. Thanks also for the wonderful lessons from life. Dr. Robert Hogan, a personality psychologist from the US, has also researched this question extensively. Dr. Hogan was intrigued by the question, what causes management failure and leadership derailment? His academic pursuits led him to develop the Hogan Development Survey, a measurement of management derailment factors that is based in psychological theory and guided by psychometric assessment. HDS research provides empirical evidence and support for your insights — we are our best friend and our worst enemy. Dr. Hogan provides a taxonomy of 11 derailing factors, that are aspects of our personality. All these “derailing factors” are the very strengths that enable success. But when unmanaged, or taken to an extreme, lead to career derailment. Full disclosure: we are the India distributors for Hogan Assessments. I discovered Hogan Assessments when I was working in leadership development area for a large US IT company. Today, I’m motivated to bring this awareness to leaders across India, to enable them to make the right interpersonal choices, and be the best that they can be.

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