Never Allow Grades to be the Determinant for Success: Shiv Khera

Fifteen books selling 3.7 million copies in 21 languages. Author, educator, motivational speaker, and business consultant, Shiv Khera is several personalities rolled into one. In London to launch his new book You Can Achieve More, he speaks exclusively to RBN about today’s professionals and how to shape oneself for tomorrow.

Your book has a very interesting name

Thanks (laughs). Yes. People often want to achieve extraordinary things in life. But they need to ask themselves, do you have extraordinary commitments for that purpose? Most importantly, do you have an extraordinary belief in life? You see, being extraordinarily successful is a culmination of several other things. The first line of my book says, ‘A person with a positive attitude cannot be stopped, and a person with a negative attitude cannot be helped.’ That exactly is the crux of this book.

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Why did you turn into motivational writing? You could have written on any genre. Why did you choose to write on this particular subject?

Well, I myself was motivated to change my life after I read Norman Vincen Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking. I attended one of his programmes. There were more than a thousand people in the audience. But when he started speaking, I felt he was addressing me. I realised that in many cases, we become our own biggest problem. See, we cannot choose the cards thrown to us by life. But we can certainly choose how to play the game. I then thought, whatever I learnt from this man and my own experiences, to take it to people who may benefit from it.

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You have travelled extensively all over the world. What according you is the single biggest challenge faced by professionals today?

When I go for corporate training these days, the only thing I do is repair work. Now the key is, if you prepare a professional in the correct way, you do not need to repair them. Trust and accountability are the two major things badly missing in the corporate world. At least 63 percent of the people, when they go to work, are disengaged from what they have been hired for. Another 24 percent are actively disengaged which means they don’t work at all. That leaves only 13 percent who are actually working. People have to understand that wages sans work amounts to stealing. A very small fraction of people today are willing to do a little bit more than what they get paid for.

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You have been a firm believer of giving back more than what you get

Yes, absolutely. If you look at life histories of successful people, you will see that they sustained success. They lived by the principle of giving back more to their family, their organisation, and to the society. It’s a mindset. If everybody in an organisation starts thinking this way, then productivity, quality, relationships and every other thing will automatically turn for the better.


Professionals in India often complain that they are overworked. Their social and family life often takes a backseat. How can these professionals strike a good work-life balance?

See, work-life balance is a global issue, and not merely India-specific. Studies have revealed that 70-80 percent of meetings in offices are a waste of time. We need to set out priorities in life. If we can’t do that, we don’t realise what’s urgent and what’s important. The fact is, when we ignore things that are important, they become urgent. Like, it’s important to exercise regularly. But when you don’t do that it affects your health. So what was important earlier, is now an urgency. You can’t ignore issues that are important. That’s the bottomline.

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You have often advised people to take a stand. But in a country like India or UK, where criticisms flow faster than opinions, don’t you think this becomes risky for an individual? You can quickly get labelled if you take a stand

Again, this is not a country-specific phenomenon.  Look back at history. Whenever a person took a contrarian stand to prevalent conventions, they were labelled as rebels, or stupid, or foolish, and almost anything. It has happened to scientists, social changers, and anyone who went on to make a positive impact. Robert Fulton gave the world a steamboat. People said it won’t start. When he finally started the boat on the Hudson River, the same people now said, it won’t stop (laughs). You see there are people in this world, no matter which side you are, they are permanently on the other. You do good, you’ll be criticised. Just keep on doing good regardless of what your detractors say.

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What would be your tips to students who will appear for their boards, given that the stress is always on grades

Never allow grades to be the deciding factor for success in life. I was one of the last students in my class in the eighth grade, and in the tenth, I failed. I repeated by class twice. It didn’t matter in the final run. I am not saying grades are not important. But it should never be the sole determinant. Check out anywhere in the world. The greatest success stories are in fact founded on great failures. Successful people failed in the beginning. But they failed forward. That is, they never repeated their mistakes. A person who repeats mistakes, becomes a failure in life. But the one who learns from it, becomes a success.

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HR professional, entrepreneur, crooner, cook. Straddling roles across sectors. Scales heights and builds bridges. Shuttles between London and Kolkata. Scours talents to plug in the holes. Film buff.

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