“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

These are the best opening lines of any novels I have read till today. They are from Charles Dickens’ A tale of two cities. I had read somewhere it took him years to come up with these fantastic lines. One can understand his dilemma and uncertainty, which persists even as of today, world over.  

Many of our colleagues have shared such dilemmas with me. I grew up around the Swami Vivekananda movement, and his words are a guiding light for me. Nobody has emphasized better than Swami Vivekananda about motivating the youth. His quote, “Arise, awake, and stop not until the goal is reached”, keeps ringing me in my ears all the time. Hence, one of my most favorite free time activity is motivating the youth. We regularly organize “Re-write your Destiny” courses or go to different institutions to inspire the youth and help them find their inner potential. During such sessions, the first question I ask each of them is what is your goal in your life. Unfortunately, only 5% of people have a very specific goal or vision about their life. The remaining all are uncertain about their future.  

If we dig deeper, we find that a common factor that prevents people from having a vision or goal is a fear of failure. At the end of every year, I take a stock of my goals and achievements. I have failed as much as 50 % of the time the first time around. That was depressing! I used to blame it on the law of mathematical probability! However, retrospectively I realize that I have fared better than some of my friends who never tried at all in the same areas! That was a revelation.  

Around this time, I read a quote by IBM founder Tom Watson Jr II, who said, “If you want to succeed double your failure rate.” Popular American Basketball Player Michael Jordan famously quoted, I have failed over and over again in my life and that is why I have succeeded.” How can we win a game which we never played at all in the first place?  Former British PM, a great statesman and WWII war hero Churchill has aptly said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Another great quote of his is, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I was a great fan of Churchill until I came to know he hated India! Anyway, my admiration for him will never fade away as he is one man who has lived up to his words. As a high school student, I had bunked my classes for nearly two months to devour all his twelve volumes of memoirs on WW II at our public district library!  

It is my experience that failure teaches us in ways success cannot. Failures mold us as a person. Failures make us resilient. People who cultivate a stronger relationship with failures, attract success faster. Failures teach us lessons. I have failed so many times and I have learnt so many lessons that I must be scholar now! LOL! Smiley!     

My failures have paralyzed me many times. What helped me was indomitable willpower. One of my favorite authors Robin Sharma says, “Failure is not having the courage to try, nothing more and nothing less.” Some people do have ambitions. However, the majority do not have the will power to pursue their dreams. Celebrated authors Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney describe this as “Ego depletion” in their book “Will Power.” Ego depletion is a person’s diminished capacity to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we do things we fear, we grow fearless. It’s a kind of self-psychological counseling and therapeutic regime.     

Google Inc., one of the most innovative companies that have produced more than 100 innovative digital products such as Youtube, Gmail, and Chrome browser, fails as much as 40% of the times in its objectives! When a giant like google fails 40% of the time, another extra 10% failure rate appears to be a consolation prize for me! My favorite motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said, “There is no such thing as failure. One of the commonest quotes quoted by most speakers belongs to Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

Earlier, I used to follow the SMART principles of goalkeeping strictly. The SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. However, this missed the “Why” factor. Later, it was modified to SMARTER goals. I changed the Measurable to Meaningful, and besides, Evaluate and Re-adjust were added to it. I have written earlier how I failed to copy the surgical skills of Dr. Mahadeviah until I made my goals meaningful. 

We have a lot to learn from Google Inc. Look at their mission, “Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google’s current success is attributed to its collaborative goal-setting protocol called Objectives and Key Results, OKRs in short! The OKRs are not just for companies. Any teams, families, or individuals can use it. OKRs follow the adage, “Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”  

An Objective involves Rudyard Kipling’s five honest servants: what, where, who, why, when to be achieved. Whereas, Key Result benchmarks monitor the sixth servant, HOW we accomplish the Objective. The Objectives are ideally inspirational, concrete, significant, and action-oriented. The effective Key Results are specific and time-bound, aggressive, yet realistic. Most important, they are verifiable and measurable. Hence, key results must have a number or percentage such as revenue, growth, active users, quality, safety, market share, customer engagement. Either we meet a KR goal or not, and there is no buffer zone.   

An effective OKR system links goals to a team’s broader mission, lending purpose, alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction to the entire organization.

According to Google’s erstwhile CEO, Eric Schmidt, “OKRs changed the company’s course forever.” OKRs helps a company to focus its efforts on the same essential projects throughout the organization. OKRs are brainchild of Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, based on Peter Drucker’s “Management by Objectives” (MBO). Andy Grove taught it to John Doerr, a venture capitalist and a billionaire who backed Google during its infancy. Oh! I have used too many management jargon! But, they are interesting and they help. If you want to learn more about OKRs, please read John Doerr’s “Measure What Matters.”  

I was discouraged by most of my friends and relvatives when I decided to build our hopsital in a small place like Chitradurga. They feared that it will not be financially viable. But, the OKRs helped me to prove them that they were wrong. My objectives were very clear: It has to be an hospital with compassion, a training center for our colleageus and a research center. I failed in few objective and succeeded in many. If I had not tried at all, I would have been helping someone else build their OKRs!       

The Message is loud and clear. If you want to succeed, build your OKRs and double your failure rate. And how do we start? Start by paying gratitudes to his almighty for what you already have! Here is a small video – Part -1 of my Octavation system composed with the help of my friends.    

Dr. Prahlada N.B