Secrets of a Super Achiever Session with Vikas Singh

October 16, 2017

A recent article by Forbes shares the top traits of super achievers. While there are many attributes and qualities that one can associate with such individuals, there are some that have the power of propelling the person to a whole, new level of success. Many of these qualities shared in the article, resonate with what Vikas Singh, Chief of Staff, AP Globale speaks about, when he recalls his life’s journey, as a super-achiever. While the unique qualities of an individual set them apart from the crowd, and help them achieve unmatched success, there is a common trajectory that most super-achievers follow and many professionals can learn from that.  

Being Resilient-

There are several life-lessons that each super-achiever can share with the world. Vikas Singh recalls his journey from a village located 30 kms from Pratapgarh, where he was born, till his success in the corporate world.  His childhood consisted of living with a family of 17 members and trying to survive on two meals that they barely managed. His mother was the only educated person in the family. Super-achievers are those who face the challenges and truly understand what hardship looks like.  That is what Vikas believes shaped him in the early years – the drive he saw within his mother, to use her education by setting up a school in the village, 7 kms from home. That resilience is the trademark of those who succeed in life. As Vikas says, “When you are a part of club zero, the only way is up”. That is what resilience and perseverance truly means.

Simplifying Challenges-

When you see a challenge facing you, at times the size of the difficult seems unsurmountable. Vikas describes a childhood incident which had a deep impact on him. He used to sit on a buffalo and take it for grazing, 2 kms away from home. Every little while the buffalo stopped for a bit and then started walking again towards the field where it was meant to go. When Vikas was hesitant to travel 5 kms to school, his mother asked him to remember how the buffalo stops during its walk. And that is what any individual who wants to achieve success must do. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, break it down into small portions. Take it one step at a time and continue along the path. That is the way to simplify challenges and achieve your goals.  

Success Seeking -

All those who have achieved great heights have been able to do so because they have been able to overcome the depths of failure, and multiple times at that. At the age of 13 years, Vikas started going to the city school and took a room on rent. To meet the basic needs, he used to take tuitions for 11 year olds. He didn’t understand the Hindi language and failed in Class 11. Failures at crucial junctures can have a deep-seated impact on a person. At that stage, he got a letter from his mother and all she told him was that he simply needed to look at it in a different way.

If you carry out your work like you have to (in his case, going to school) as a requirement, you are likely to lose interest.  However, if you think of it as an opportunity, that is, you get to do it ( e.g. you get to go to school), it can change your mindset. That change in mindset is what a super-achiever is made of, because he or she gets transformed into a success-seeker, from being a failure avoider.

Keeping a Narrow Focus -

Focusing on your life goals is the single-most important trait that defines achievers. When Vikas shifted to Allahabad for further studies, it was difficult to make ends meet. He was on scholarship but could not earn much. People asked him about how he went about learning what he did. The secret lies in keeping one’s focus narrow and deep, and away from the distractions. In his childhood, the focus was to be able to earn for two meals daily and to be able to get a shelter on the head.  That focus set the foundation for the future. Having a narrow focus is the key which works as a catalyst to drive you towards your goals. The narrow focus also enables you to realize the power of habit. When you do something over and again, you learn to become perfect at it. That is the secret of being an achiever.

Having Great Mentors -

Mentoring is what sets apart good leaders from great ones. It was the same for Vikas. His mentors were a key part of his growth, because they realized his strengths and valued them. They were patient with him when he was struggling with his own gaps. They invested in him and shared their life experiences to guide him on what to do, and more importantly, what not to do. Finding people who believe in you is a big part of one’s success.  Even at this phase in his life, Vikas has at least 12 mentors,  all unique in their own ways.  They ensure that his knowledge is as diverse as possible and he is able to grow as a person, and as a professional. The mentors and family members are our support system. The leaning into your support system is the single most important activity that can help you cope up with your failures.  A super-achiever is able to reach his or her goals, only when they share their concerns, get feedback and course correct as suggested by their mentors, and family. 

Reflecting on your choices –

At every stage of your career, even when you are in the early years, always reflect and introspect in your choices. Vikas got a job in the Security, with Reliance Mumbai at Rs 6000 a month. The job helped him realize how to lead a meaningful living with whatever he had.  He continued to do that for 3 years, and as he stood at the gate doing that, he realized that he did not want to do it for all his life. A super-achiever always asks himself or herself these questions -

  • Can you do it?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Will it work?

For him the last one‘s answer was No.  Super-achievers recognize what can be a life-changing moment for them. Just as Vikas did. That is what defined the turning point in his life. He learnt computer science after 8 hours of duty, with the help of his supervisor. While he was working in Reliance, someone from Goldman Sachs was visiting and shared that he was looking to hire analysts in his team. The VP of Security suggested Vikas’s name and life took a turn. He was hired on the condition that if he does not improve communication skills while on probation, he will be terminated. That is when he decided to ensure that he practiced his English speaking and became better at it.

Apart from the above secret, the one big thing that differentiates a regular individual from a super-achiever, is that they believe in each one, teach one. Someone helps and guides them, and they remember to return that favour by helping someone else. Vikas learnt this from the CEO of his current organization as he thought of improving the condition of his village. Instead of directing his efforts towards poverty alleviation, he redefined his path and looked at growth elevation. Super achievers focus on empowering others to push their boundaries and make a living.

So remember that in entirety a super-achiever focuses on all the above and then some more. He or she identifies and leverages opportunities; works on them in a committed way and goes onto empower others, so as to create a community of super-achievers. 

One of the key elements that can help super-achievers push their boundaries and maximize their potential is the role that HR plays. HR is not only instrumental in identifying the hidden talent that exists within individuals, but also in ensuring that these individuals receive the right learning and development opportunities. Harnessing this potential through well-designed programs and practices is the role of an organization’s HR function.  


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