Excellence and Attitude

by Leena

Today a friend of mine declined a very promising opportunity because of the reason that it is different than what he has done so far. He turned it down with a very forceful “no”, hesitant to give any clear explanations.

The quick reaction from me was “Are you stupid?”, but quickly tried to convert the reaction to curiosity in understanding his thought process.

When I spoke to him in detail, I found that the underlying problem was his fear of failure. A very talented and a good person, but seems extremely afraid of unknowns or uncertainties.

He had somewhat smooth, decent career so far. And now the time has come to take challenges and face inevitable failures to push his career ahead. And he wants to run away from it. At the same time, he also has the guilt of not trying hard to do anything remarkable in the career.

I tried to make him understand the same. Only the coming days will tell how does he intend to take it forward.


Harsha Bhogle @ IIMA, speaking about the attitude

A few years back, during a conversation about building teams, a friend of mine pointed me to the speech by Harsha Bhogle @ IIMA. He referred to this talk “as a must watch for anyone who has spent a few years and is serious about building a career in the software industry ”.

Harsha talks about how attitude [attitude towards accepting challenges and learning from failures] can make a less talented person much ahead of a talented person. He says that the reason behind Sachin Tendulkar‘s career is not his talent, it is his attitude.


In her talk Agile Mindset, Linda Rising refers to parents’ role in bringing in “more challenge mindset” vs “can’t do mindset” which she refers as “agile mindset” and “fixed mindset”. The talk refers to the studies conducted by Carol Dweck in this area, which she published in the book Mindset.

Sal Khan’s TED talk is about applying the mindset in education through mastery-based learning with the emphasis on perseverance over scores or grades.


Being a parent, I have both the opportunity and responsibility of fostering a good attitude in my kids. For sure my kids will agree on one thing, i.e. they have a “very challenging” mom :)

Originally published at medium.com on October 27, 2016.