First of all, my apologies for destroying the fun out of the film, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag by extracting “Learnings” from the film. But then, spending 3 full hours on a film in the multiplex, and seeing the audience spontaneously clap at the end of a film doesn’t happen many times. Hence, there must be something to learn . Here goes :
1. Single-minded focus : If you have set your eyes on an ambitious goal, then realising that goal needs single-minded focus. This has been told to us through different people across times. Arjun’s focus of seeing only the fish’s eye, Rahul Dravid’s famous focus / concentration when on the field, Amir Khan’s intense focus while executing any project at hand. There have been instances of people failing to achieve their goals because of lack of focus – Naarad Muni’s loss of focus while carrying a pot of oil on his head and his consequent forgetting to chant Vishnu mantra, Infosys founders losing focus temporarily as they involved themselves in other pursuits (Aadhar, Catamaran, Philanthropy) and for some time, Milkha Singh after meeting the Australian girl during the 1956 Olympics. Subsequently, he finds his way and rejects the company of the pretty swimmer Perizaad to regain his focus, and consequently starts winning all the races (see another article in my Blog for “Focus in Leadership” http://www.sunilmishra.in/2012/12/30/importance-of-focus-in-leadership-or-whats-wrong-with-infosys-wipro-and-with-india/ ).
2. Achieve closure to your problems : Milkha lived through his entire youth remembering the gruesome massacre of his family back in Pakistan at the time of partition. The memories were so terrible that he couldn’t sleep properly and this even cost him his Olympics medal in 1960, even after being the World Record holder. When he visits his old village in Pakistan and his friend tells him that “It’s not the people who are bad, it’s the circumstances” – suddenly, Milkha achieves closure. He seems to have forgiven the past and moves on. After that, he beats the competition by a mile in the next race, and seems genuinely happy. You need to reconcile with your problems, with your past, take them to a logical conclusion…and then, move on !
3. Set your goals high…and then Execute like Hell : After having lost in the qualifiers in the 1956 Olympics, Milkha comes out of his shell quickly and sets an unreasonable, audacious target for himself – that of beating the world record ! After that, he practises like there’s no tomorrow and tires (pun intended) himself to the extremes till he achieves his goals. Be Fool-hardy while setting your goals, Fastidious & Fool-proof in building your Plan, and Fierce in executing the Plan. My own 4Fs of Strategy formulation .
4. Get a mentor and achieve extra-ordinary goals : Especially in sports and corporate life. Milkha got his two coaches who were aligned with his aspirations and strengths. They brought out the best in him, and at times, pushed him to move towards his goals. Identifying well-wishing experience people who like you and are interested in your career is very important. They will hand-hold you through career moves, tough times and inspire you to super-achieve your goals.
5. And finally, the frivolous ones :
a. Don’t drink too much beer before the big days… especially with people of a country you might be competing against tomorrow
b. Swimming is good for health. Never know who you will meet there.
c. Three people by train from Delhi to Chandigarh to deliver one line…is an over-kill
d. A vest on the body is sometimes better than a blazer on the peg on the wall. You may lose the vest while trying to get the blazer.
e. In sports grounds, never consume drinks you can’t recognise. They could be the sweat of the athletes…at best !