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Who is Your Hero?

Here’s a question for you. Who is your hero?

There is tremendous value in having a hero. Heroes can inspire us to dream big, and do the impossible. Heroes can lift us in moments of depression and give us hope. And heroes blaze a trail which tells us that if we did similar things, we could achieve our dreams too. Our heroes can change over time – and that’s probably an indication of our own changing situations in life. And yes, don’t expect your heroes to be perfect in all respects. You will be disappointed and might get put off heroes forever – which would be a pity!

A question I often get asked is who my hero was. I have had several heroes in my life. And I thought it might be useful to share some of those stories. So here goes…

One of my earliest heroes in life was my father. Now that’s probably true for many of us! As a little kid, I was hugely inspired by the things he did. A self-made man – he left home in a village in Kerala to come to Mumbai to make a living, went on to study engineering, and forged a successful career. He even mastered the Hindi language enough to be able to teach it. Incredible! And I got my first lessons in writing and speaking from him. I also got my first lessons in people management – as a six year old kid. Here are two simple lessons I haven’t forgotten: One, always call the driver by his name. So it was always Nathu-bhaiyya – not ‘driver’! And lesson two: Carry your own school bag – don’t have someone else to do it for you!

As a cricket-crazy kid in school, I got a new hero when Sunil Gavaskar burst on the scene. He was short, opened the innings, and took on the fastest bowlers in the world without a helmet. He was also articulate, and wrote a fabulous book! In an interview at that time, Gavaskar said how he used his height (or lack of it) to his advantage – it helped him avoid the bouncers! And he talked of how playing cricket in the balcony of his little Mumbai home taught him to hit the ball straight – in the ‘V’. For me they were huge lessons: make the most of what you have. And don’t complain about what you may have missed out on!

And then came the angry young man. Amitabh Bachchan was a hero not just because he managed to beat up all the bad guys even while ensuring he was the son every mom wished she had! For me, the Amitabh story was all about having the courage to give up a steady job to chase your dreams, about being rejected, seeing repeated failure (and even being turned down by All India Radio because they felt he didn’t have a great voice!) And through it all, fighting, persevering, and never, never giving up.

A huge influence at work was one of my early bosses – Suman Sinha! He taught me that a leader at work was like an alchemist. Just as an alchemist turns metal to gold, a true leader turns men and women into managers. And he taught me the importance of values, of integrity, and the habit of doing the right thing – at all times.

There have been several other heroes too. Rahul Dravid, the ultimate team man. And Steve Jobs. And of course, my driver Karunan, who shared pearls of wisdom from his own life (sample this: Early in your career, what you learn is more important than what you earn. And don’t worry about which car you are driving. Focus on being a good driver!). Karunan is also a good reminder that heroes are everywhere. They don’t have to be famous people! And the important bit is not who the hero is, but about what you learn from him and how he inspires you.

So that’s it about me. But tell me, who is your hero? I am keen to hear! And in case you don’t have a hero, find one. Today!

5 thoughts on “Who is Your Hero?

  1. sir, This has come after a long time, and once again it is great to read your blog.
    It is true we need to have Heroes and as we grow up we follow great people who have made it good in life.
    I have been a great admirer of Rajiv Gandhi and was impressed by his straight talk, and i even named my first son Rajiv.
    Steve Job was another guy who is a hero to me.
    Hoping to read more from you.
    Ananth Iyer

  2. Just like you, my first hero was my dad. In fact he still is my hero. He showed me that “nothing is impossible if there is a will”. With less than minimal resources, he gave us everything we needed. He gave us aspirations in life and supported us to achieve those aspirations.

    And then my aunt Dr Madhu Gupta inspired me to balance work and life. She showed me that it is the quality of time spent with kids that matters more than the quality.

    My granny taught me power of giving. She gave even when she did not have.

    Supratim Bose at J&J taught me the importance of developing people. I admire him for his passion, energy and will power.

    I look at Ron Kaufman and wish I could engage audience like him.

    Marshall Goldsmith is my hero for his ability to simplify things.

    Then how can I not talk of Ratan Tata. I do not know him, but he appears emotional. I have seen emotions in his eyes in so many interviews. He inspires me to believe that one can run a business while being emotional.

    My 5 year old daughter is my hero. I taught her gratitude, but she has taken it to a different level. I see her and I get amazed at the power of gratitude.

    Sanjay Ahlawat, a colleague in my earlier organisation is my hero for his ability to handle any customer without getting stressed a bit.

    I have so many actually that I can go on and on. I just saw a movie Gangoobai and the character of gangoobai is an inspiration. How feeling someone’s pain and adding value to them can lead to great relationships.

  3. dear parkash
    i have also been cricket enthusiast and read all columns in hindustan times by sunil gavaskar. vvs laxman, ravi, and ganguly and try to learn elements of team working and decision making. my hero now is ms dhoni who follows his guts more than any thing and delivers results. it will be interesting to know more what goes in his mind while paying on the field. pl do write about him in future

  4. Mr Iyer .You post reminded me of the following heros in my life
    My brother Naveen : Has taught me don’t expect anything from me in terms of ‘Affection ‘because he always wanted me to be independent as world is a deadly place to live in .
    My second hero is my grand mum Late Mrs Narashimhan : Who was my strength in every sense as she always supported me during my difficult days .
    My third and final hero are my blogs : Where I pen down my feeling with ease .

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