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The management of life

Anupam Kher shares his approach to getting ahead

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Indian film actor and life coach Anupam Kher with his book The Best Thing About You Is You
GN Focus

Indian film actor Anupam Kher was in town recently for the launch of his book The Best Thing About You Is You at Booksplus at Lamcy Plaza. At the event, organised by the Apparel Group, the versatile actor talked about the lessons he has gleaned from his successes and failures.

Don't take failure personally: Anupam Kher turns the idea of failure on its head. "Failure is an event, never a person," he says. So when you're turned down for a job, it's your application that was unsuccessful, not you as a candidate. By not personalising failure, you can process it more effectively and learn from it for the future. "A man who is drenched is not afraid of the rain," he declares.

Fear paralyses: "I see a fear in people," Kher says. "It's the fear of wanting to be perfect." He says we spend too much time trying to be someone else, and that owning up to our faults instead will set us free. "If you don't think your problems are handicaps, why should anyone else think so?"

Hope floats: "Hope, together with love, is the most powerful emotion known to us. Hope keeps us going on forever, and even in the worst of times, it is hope that keeps us alive," runs the blurb on the back of Kher's book. He appears to fervently believe that, insisting it's that hope is the most powerful motivational force. "It is the losers who question hope," he says.

Education matters: "Life gives everybody a chance; how you respond depends on how prepared you are. Education gives you that preparation," says Kher, himself both a trained actor and acting coach. He talks about the early eighties, when, despite a gold medal in drama, he spent three years in Mumbai looking for work in the film industry, living off his savings and sleeping on train platforms. "It was all in the hope that one day I'd get a chance. And once I did, I was able to make the most of it. Education also disciplines you."

Be happy: Kher takes the view that happiness is a choice. "There are two ways of living life — either be happy, or say, if such-and-such happens, I will be happy. If you're an unhappy person, you'll never be able to accept good fortune. Even if you win Rs50 lakhs (Rs5 million, Dh371,271), you'll say I should have won a crore (Rs10 million)," he says. "So nothing is ever enough."

Leaders just get on with it: Taking life's rejections in your stride is the best way to achieve your goals, Kher believes. "Depression, self-pity, disillusionment — leaders are those people who despite all these emotions, continue doing things they need to do while others are sceptical. If you give up, you get what you deserve. If you don't give up, you get what you deserve."