Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Fast trackers – are they built differently?


Fast trackers – are they built differently?

There are hundreds of biographies about fast-trackers who have accomplished great achievements with limited resources, within a short time.

And thousands of articles and blogs describing their secrets; some examples I saw on the web just now – ‘8 things they have in common’, ‘5 common habits of mega-achievers’, ‘13 rules they never break’, ‘7 things they do that you need to start doing from today’, ‘25 things you can learn from them’ …… (my last search count was 22.6 Mn!).

I want to add two more to the above list;)

Two stories of fast-trackers that I have seen being transformed in a short time. The experience of watching them grow got me thinking – are they built differently? don’t they have the filters that normal people have e.g. do I have the ability? do I have the required experience and education? do I have the authority?

Let me go to their stories.

My first story is about Shyamala. She landed one morning in my friend’s flat in Mumbai. I think it was in 1976. Tall, dark, stooped because of her height; about eighteen or nineteen; anyone could make out from her dress and from the look of the bag she carried with her that she came from a small town.

She was my friend’s sister and had come down to stay here for good. We were not happy with her entry. My friend’s house was bachelor boys’ adda and we didn’t want any encroachment.

But soon we got used to her; anyway, she didn’t come out in the living room, when we were around busy wasting our time.

She didn’t speak much; in fact, she could speak only two languages, Kannada and Konkani.

The first shock we had was when we saw her singing in our annual function. She looked like a star. It was amazing to see how much she had changed in the last couple of months. How could she pick up such a confident voice and a glamorous gait in such short time?

The next shock was about a few months after that when I heard her speaking in English, in a Doon-school attitude, with someone. This was unbelievable. Where could she have found so much time to pick up English?

And the next we heard was that she was going to act in a Bollywood movie.

The whole transformation happened in a year or so. It was mindboggling. How could she acquire so many skills in such a short time? It was as if someone had told her that she won’t live after a year; it was as if she had some magic to expand a day into 48 hours. It was as if she was on a one-way journey. I will never forget witnessing this transformation of a small town girl Shyamala into a Bollywword actress Shyamlee.

I guess she was a cocktail of hunger, razor sharp focus and grit.

We, in our corporate world, speak about HiPo Development programmes, leadership transformational off-sites, two-week executive breakthrough workshops, interventions invoking the giants-within-you-in-90-days etc. Hope our trainers can capture the magic of our Shyamlee in these programmes.

No offence meant to my esteemed trainer colleagues; it’s just a helpless feeling when we don’t see results from the efforts of trainers. I have not seen any lag from their side, nor have I seen a lack of intent from the companies who want to nurture their people. Then where’s the catch? What should we do to bring in the hunger and the grit to pursue the goal she had?

Or is it because we have yet to find out the science of teaching that was practised by ancient Yogis where they could transform people just by touching them?

My next story is about an intern, Prithvi.

For many companies, an internship is a kind of a welfare activity of doling out internship certificates. Many interns don’t mind getting project completion certificates without doing much; many are happy doing ‘google dee dum’ project reports; many don’t have mentors; many have mentors but mentors don’t have time; many projects are JLT (Just Like That) projects.

Prithvi was different. She wanted to give her 100 percent for the project. She wanted every minute of the 90-day internship to be fruitful. Her final report had a complete list of competitors, their products, even the contact numbers of decision makers in those companies; she had a big list of potential customers from around twenty segments; she had spoken to/ visited more than 100 people to understand the market and to understand the market need; to top it all, she had come out with altogether a new product idea.

When I spoke to her to know how she could achieve so much in such short duration, her simple reply was, “I don’t know; I am built like that.”

Again I think she was same as Shyamlee; hungry, focused and miser of time.

Do we want to take a thirty-day challenge to live like Shyamlee and Prithvi? Can we live one day a week like them? Would like to know your experiences.

Here is a quote from Oscar Wilde that I Googled for you – To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.


This is something for you from a famous French painter Paul Gauguin; to remind us to be innovative, to build faith in us to challenge the status quo. This is what this band of painters, called Impressionists, lived for.

This painting is called “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” and was painted in 1897 in Tahiti.

Gauguin was an important figure in the symbolist movement. The blue figure in the picture is ‘the beyond’. Paul suggests that the painting should be viewed from right to left; from the birth of human being on the right to the old lady at the far left accepting death as fate.


Originally published in his LinkedIn blogs

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