In pursuit of excellence

April 14, 2011 | By More

The highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time.

Like me, you probably would not have heard about a 2009 Bollywood movie called the 3 Idiots.  If you are reading this blog regularly, I highly recommend watching it.

3 Idiots is the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in India and went on to win many awards. It is a movie with a big heart. I watched a subtitled version on youtube, which meant it took me way longer than normal to watch through the whole film, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I suggest you get hold of the DVD.

The story line evolves around three friends at college and how one of them shows the other two the importance of following one’s passion instead of just following conventional thinking and studying in order to get a degree.  The reason for study cannot be for financial gain, but for a better understanding of the world around us – and what to do about it. The movie is a comedy in Bollywood style and a poignant illustration of their developing friendship and self respect as they struggle to learn about themselves, their families and what they are passionate about – and eventually excelling in their chosen fields.

Here is a short clip from the movie (click on picture):

"What's your passion?" Rancho asks Farhan

The message is:  if you follow your heart and develop excellence in your passion, success will eventually follow you. Financial success, as a motivator, cannot be the ultimate goal. It is only the result. The closing line in the movie is: “Follow excellence, and success will chase you, pants down”.  (you’ll have to watch the movie to get that part about the pants!)

It’s a fun movie, and yes, there is a ‘love interest’ too.

Pia and Rancho in a dance number (click to view)

Similarly with everything we do, it should be with ‘excellence’. But what does excellence mean in the context of a start-up, or for that matter, any business?
Of course, we have built excellence into our product, haven’t we? After all, we’ve worked long and hard to get it right.

Do we really know what it is that the customer really wants?  Did we apply the same excellence in understanding the user’s problems and how we are solving them with the product (or solution)?

Did we apply the same rigorous level of understanding to the user’s needs?  (read more about Finding out what your Customers need)

We also need to have excellence in designing the product. Excellence isn’t only about getting good looking presentations or a great business plan. You also need excellence in getting the right people to design the product; excellence in applying the right management practices to manage the process and company; excellence in marketing. Excellent attitude. Excellent mindset. Excellent company.

Read more about Building your Team, When do you start ‘marketing’ your idea?, What Next?

Pursuing excellence doesn’t mean just do one thing well – it means doing everything well.

Pursue excellence, and success will chase you – pants down.  Enjoy the movie.

In later posts, we will discuss examples of some businesses that pursue excellence as a key principle of their business – like the Mittelstand in Germany and how they survive the industry downturns when others struggle.  [Read about them here.]

Further information:
3 Idiots trailer
3 Idiots review

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Category: Self Improvement, What's Next?

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

Comments (3)

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  1. A Arthur says:

    Wow, I nearly missed the clip. Really an excellent movie, tells so much about life. thanks for sharing.

  2. Vishal Bhatt says:

    EngTong, I was surfing through web for this movie (3 idiots) and came across your blog. while i like the thought of following your passion and let excellence follow, my fundamental questions are: What is this passion and how do you discover it? the education system of so many countries fails to give the exposure to children which enables them to discover their passion. My passion can’t be mathematics, science, geography!!!

    • Error: Unable to create directory uploads/2018/12. Is its parent directory writable by the server? ET says:

      I feel for you and your questions. We are very much the product of our education, both formal and informal. As you can see from the movie, when you are not in touch with your inner self, it becomes difficult to know what is your passion. The only inputs then come from external sources. Passion is an inner drive, one that you yourself will be comfortable with, and as they say in other movies, allow you to “go with the flow”. There is no reason your passion cannot be geography or science, or mathematics. The best scientists, explorers and mathematicians become so because they are totally dedicated to the subject and totally engrossed in it so much so they do it above all else – isn’t that passion?? What perhaps you are concerned about is whether your passion will sustain you – or give you a high standard of living. Now, watch the last part of the movie again and decide for yourself if fame and fortune is the same as happiness and what is it that you are seeking.