We all know of heroes who achieve amazing things through sheer inner grit. Have you ever wondered what mindset, attitude and thoughts make someone a high achiever? What inner resource enables them to overcome hardship, rejection and failure?
Born to a poor landless farmer in a small village of Appanaickenpatti Padur in Tamil Nadu, Arokiaswamy Velumani was so poor that he sought government subsidies to go through school and college. Velumani’s father had given up on taking care of his wife and four children. He just couldn’t endure the daily struggles to earn a wage anymore. Faced with her husband’s helplessness, Velumani’s mother took on the responsibility of keeping their head above water by investing in two buffaloes, the milk from which earned them a meagre Rs 50 a week. But it managed to sustain the family for almost a decade.
Velumani kept up his studies and finally decided to start his career as a shift chemist at a small pharmaceutical company in Coimbatore. He earned Rs 150 a month, less than a watchman. But he didn’t complain. Every month he sent home Rs 100 and kept Rs 50 for himself. This went on for four years until the capsule-making company collapsed, and Velumani found himself jobless. Undaunted, he managed to get a position at the government-run Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). There his salary was higher than he or his family had ever known—Rs 880.
Velumani spent 14 years at BARC, and for 10 of those years, he even had the opportunity to study for a doctorate in thyroid biochemistry. Velumani soon wanted to do something different. He had developed an idea which he believed would help make thyroid testing—prohibitively expensive for much of India’s population—affordable. He wanted to use his expertise to set up special testing labs to detect thyroid disorders. Not only would this reach many thousands of people, but it would also be a huge moneymaking opportunity. Yet it was a risky venture. By then, he had a wife and two children, and quitting his job at BARC meant giving up a stable government salary.
But in 1995, the day came when he felt he must follow his conviction. He handed in his resignation letter, came home and told his wife. Although it must have been a difficult conversation to have, Velumani’s wife saw the intensity in her husband’s self-belief. She then took the major step to support him: she resigned from her bank job and joined her husband to help him achieve his dream. With Rs 1 lakh from his provident fund,
Velumani, at the age of 37, opened the first Thyrocare shop. It was in Byculla, a middle-class neighbourhood in South Mumbai, near the Tata Memorial Hospital, a prominent cancer institute. Velumani started out with a franchise model, where samples would be collected across the country and sent back to the central laboratory in Mumbai. It was met with so much demand that Thyrocare expanded from testing for thyroid disorders to providing preventive medical check-ups and other diagnostic blood tests. Today, Velumani is the owner of the world’s largest thyroid testing company.
So what prompted Velumani to take such a risky step, quitting his job and spending a large chunk of his provident fund, not knowing whether he would fail or succeed? Velumani had the conviction that his idea would be helpful to the world. He didn’t shrink from fear of failure nor follow the naysayers and critics. Because he valued his idea and believed it would be worthwhile, he was able to move forward undaunted. This quality of Velumani’s is something that many high achievers have in common: they are able to withstand and tolerate any form of setback simply on their belief that they can reach their goals.
Velumani’s self-esteem enabled him to trust his own abilities and have faith in his vision. In other words, his healthy self-esteem was the foundation for his other personality strengths that enabled him to succeed. It was the breeding ground for his persistence and optimism. Most importantly, he believed that his hard work would enable him to overcome challenges and succeed. Knowing this, he was able to work long hours and push through countless struggles, risks and uncertainties.
Many studies and real-life examples have shown that developing strong and positive self-esteem is one of the keys to success. Experts have found that having an adequate sense of self forms an internal ecosystem for hope and persistence to thrive. This creates a positive growth cycle.