Thinking Big with honesty?

Alert : A ranting rambing post.. with whatever came to my mind manifesting itself here ..

I came across an article quoting Former president APJ Abdul Kalam saying ‘small goal is a crime’.

“I will have a goal and work hard to achieve the goal. I realise small goal is a crime. This should be the motto to achieve success,” Kalam told students after inaugurating a ‘Arts and Science Centre’ at Balbhavan.

As I read it, I realised that it is something that had been drilled into me.. Aim for the stars and you might land on the moon. Some years ago, when we were newly married and literally broke, but still wanted to try and buy a flat, we had started looking at flats that were within our budget.  We were about to settle on something low scale, when my uncle advised us to think of what we would be, in 10 years time. He asked us to think if we would be happy living in such a locality in 10 years time. He also told us how they had managed to design and construct a house from scratch in the then outskirts of Bangalore- Koramangala. He told us how it had been difficult, but with careful financial planning it was possible.. Again, when we started looking at treetops – he inspired us to aim for the stars.. We listened to him, managed to get a plot instead and today its worth much much more than we had thought at that point in time.. And it is just the kind of locality and surroundings I would want to go back to and bring up my daughter in.

It had all to do with wanting to better our situation. It had all to do with aspiring for more.. All to do with our ambitions of a better life..

All through, when I was told to be ambitious, never was I told that it was alright to be unscrupulous.. Never was being dishonest an option. It was always about being ambitious but righteous and honest and to be able to stand up against wrong and the unjust.

 Why is it that, somehow, being ambitious has negativity associated with it? Have people started associating ambitions with dishonesty? Is it because of the people who tend to be ruthlessly ambitious? Or that some people tend to trample over others in order to fulfil their ambitions? Is being unscrupulous and ambitious related?

Possibly. We do come across unscrupulous , ambitious people who could happily ‘sell their grandma’ to be successful! Every time I see people like this – I just wish I could hammer it into them that people can be successful – without being unscrupulous. A truly successful person ensures that his peers and his subordinates grow with him – instead of trampling their growth to grow himself. A person who walks over another, will always be looking over his shoulder worrying if someone else is trying to pull the same trick on him! A truly successful person has an aura of confidence about him which comes from good vibes. A person who is confident without the good vibes will generally come across as cocky and arrogant, won’t he? I certainly would not associate success with that.

As Dr Kalam says, ‘small goal is a crime’. The key, according to me, is to think big and reach big but with integrity! Isn’t that the reason we admire people like Dr Kalam and Mr NR Narayana Murthy of Infosys instead of Ramalinga Raju of Satyam ?

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53 thoughts on “Thinking Big with honesty?

  1. Smitha. Well said and I totally agree with you. I’ve been taught the same thing as a child too; “to aim for the starts and you might land on the moon.”

    There is more I want to say BUT my brain won’t function because I’ve just returned from an exam and it didn’t go as I wanted it to. 😦 So I’ll come back and comment later. 😐

    Go get some rest, relax and come back 🙂 I am sure you would have done well in the exam.

    • Trust me I haven’t. Did better than yesterday. My mind went completely blank and couldn’t answer a single question. 😥 That broke my confident for today hence was shakey and nervious when going in. So kept panicking which lead to me running out of time. So fingers crossed I pass BUT won’t get the distinction I wanted. 😦

      Oh oh!! Lets keep those fingers crossed! I’ll still hope that you ace it 🙂 So how many more left?

      • Two more to go. One on Monday and last one on Thursday.
        I’ve got to resit the one from yesterday because I know I’ve failed it. So that’s going to cost me £100 just for that exam. 😦

        oh oh! £100 to retake the test?? Thats attrociously expensive!!! Dp you have to pay for taking every test?

        • Yes. I think so. To be honest not actually asked. Need to speak to either the head of the course of my personnal tutor. I know it’s £100 but not sure if that’s per exam retake of if it is a fix cost no matter how many papers you retake.. BUT yes it is a LOT of money hence it is better to pass first time. 😐

          Goodness! It is a LOT of money! No wonder they talk about higher education being expensive in the UK!!

  2. Technically, I’m the second person to comment!!! 😀

    I totally agree with you on the line –
    “All through, when I was told to be ambitious, never was I told that it was alright to be unscrupulous.. Never was being dishonest an option. It was always about being ambitious but righteous and honest and to be able to stand up against wrong and the unjust.”

    That’s exactly what we were told and what is expected to be followed even now…

    Fantastic post! 😀

    Thank you Pixie! So many people seem to think that the end result is what matters! It shocks me sometimes how being ruthless is equated with being successful!

  3. good one Smithus…….. 🙂
    yeah, think big with honesty seems a good mantra 😛
    I do neither….. 🙂 neither do I dream big, neither an I totally honest 😛
    LOL

  4. That is right. Aim for the sky and you might end up on the treetops…said somebody and how true.

    As we get focussed on achieving our objectives, we start finding solutions to all problems along the way and we end up getting what we aspire for. I do not know the whys and the hows of this and there are a million theories out there trying to explain this phenomenon.

    Ambition is necessary and good. It is just that many have adopted a “at any cost” policy and that gives it a bad name…

    Very nice post.

    Thank you Mavin! A lot of people do seem to adopt the ‘at any cost’ policy unfortunately…giving ambition a bad name..

  5. Not settling for what one has but for what one is inspired to, is the key… and you put it across so beautifully… 🙂 think big, and think honest!

    Very necessary for these days, especially with children 🙂

    thanks Smitha, this is one slogan I am going to put up in my class from 1 June, when school reopens 🙂

    Usha, I am flattered to think that you are going to put this up in your class! Thank you – That absolutely made my day!!! Hugzz!!!

  6. Smitha, I totally agree with you but the problem is like OG I don’t think big :-(…I’m happy with life as it is…For others, ambition is good as long as people are honest and scrupulous…Honesty is extremely important…

    LOL, Bones 🙂 I am quite ambitious, unfortunately 😦 And feel really bad that people equate it with dishonesty as well 😦

  7. Once a guru said ‘desire is reason for suffer’ as I started to follow that there is no big ambitions for me… LOL 😆 but the thing is both goes hand in hand very rarely… it may be a thing in an ideal world but not now… you can think big… but to achieve it you have to give price for your honesty 😦

    I somehow still feel that you can be honest and still succeed.. Your honesty will pay off in the end…

    • I think like Kanagu, most people think success can only be achieved by dishonesty and that’s why people equate being ambitious with dishonesty…

      Yes, Bones and that I think is the real tragedy, coz more and more people tend to think that , being dishonest is the only way forward..

      • I think I have to clarify now 🙂 honesty and thinking big… It depends on what we want to do… just think that we have to build a house of your design which is correct by gov guidelines… now the approval officer asks for bribe… without that he wont approve… now if
        we give bribe not by intention but by force… is that honesty? for me thats a dishonesty…

        I agree with you – that is dishonesty. Yes, you are probably right.. What will happen if you refuse to bribe – will he reject – even if it is as per the gov’s guidelines?

        • Why I said that example is, it happened to one, while getting approval for his home..
          the approval officer kept on rejecting his designs, the reason is he needed 8000 rupees..

          this is what he said to that person, “Go and complaint where ever you want…. you can’t get it approved without giving 8000 to me… for this seat I have paid 6 lakhs rupees.. ”

          That is so sad… And you are right.. If that is the case – there is little we can do.. But you know, I had heard something similar of how in Bangalore , it is was a routine practise to pay bribes to get flats registered.. But a bunch of people refused and managed to get it done without bribes.. I guess that is possible because it was a group of people.. If it is just an individual – it is a different story..

          so what can we we do in this situation… we are forced to live in that manner because of the things surrounded by us…. I wont believe that a corporate head is full of honesty and integrity… they have to bend the rules to be successful..

          I don’t think it is necessary to bend the rules to be successful.. It takes a lot longer to be successful when you are honest.. but I believe it is still doable..

          Only person who can be honest is monthly salaried in pvt companies… yet there are few… but they are very, very less in number 😦
          Yes, monthly salaried employees are more or less insulated from the corruption..
          Now tell me… is both will go hand in hand???… how many were hiding and submitting false proofs to pay less tax??? is that not dishonesty… ??? how many companies were showing up profits and correctly paying the taxes to government??? There are many companies who are recruiting Auditors just to show false profits… they are not getting arrested… so something is going to them… so a top level dishonesty passes through the whole system and people…

          Yes, it does happen – but a lot of companies are still honest.. I am sure of this… Yes, there might be tax saving measures.. but that, I would not call dishonest – unless it is being done by false proofs.. I am sure a lot of companies might be doing it – but also that a lot do not..

          Sorry for this long comment Smitha… But this what coming to mind when talking about thinking big and honesty… many were losers for being honest…. their name will go nowhere… If at all Ramalinga Raju died before the satyam scam how would have we seen him?? A great founder… 🙂

          Yes, you are so right – if Ramalinga Raju had died – he would have been hailed a great leader.. And he might have still gotten away with it – if it had not been for the global slowdown.. That is definitely scary

  8. Well, as you wrote in your post, people tend to harm other people to get successful. The person who gets hurt, does the same thing to someone else thinking that everyone in the world is bad and the cycle continues. Its a shame that even after having such a developed brains we behave like pigs.

    Yes, Amit, you are spot on – it becomes a cycle – a way of life , in which everybody or atleast most people start believing that you need to be dishonest to be successful..

  9. I am ambitious and I don’t regret that. I am also happy with what I have. Is that a paradox? 😀

    No it isn’t, Sols – I think exactly that way too! I am totally satisfied by where I am today.. and that in a way propels my ambitions too – does that make any sense? But I strongly believe that one has to be happy with oneself to be able to aspire for something…

    One can be happy, honest and still aim high and also get success at that.

    I am in total agreement with you here.

    • nicely put Solilo..
      Being happy and aiming high are two different things and we can do both at the same time..


      Absolutely Mystery -‘Being happy and aiming high are two different things and we can do both at the same time..’ Aiming high does not mean that that one is not happy with what one is at any point in time..

  10. I think this aversion to ambition has deep cultural roots in a time when material progress was not a measure of one’s success in life…and that period lasted perhaps thousand of years till post Industrial Revolution and colonisation of the world by the West, everything changed dramatically, and is continuing to even now.

    I remember being told as child that one must be satisfied with what one has and that rather than looking towards people who are better off, one must look at those who are less fortunate etc. Desire to have more money and material possessions was never considered very desirable. The focus was on values. That is perhaps because it had been observed over many years that this made a lot of people unscrupulous, greedy and dishonest. Also, materially things remained almost constant for a very, very long time.

    Yes, I was always told to be satisfied with what I have and also to strive to improve on whatever I could.. I probably gave the wrong examples.. but ambition need not be monetary or materialistic.. But I get what you are saying..

    Things and time have changed. And, as Dr Kalam says, we must aim for the stars. But, as you have observed, this must not be accompanied by dishonesty, ruthlessness and a certain heartlessness that makes life mechanical and worse.

    I think ambition could be anything and it is personal at the end of the day. It is not just to do with materialistic comforts.. and I believe you can be satisfied with your lot and still be ambitious.. Being dissatisfied – is, in my opinion far more dangerous.. and it cannot be equated with ambition..

  11. ‘A person who walks over another, will always be looking over his shoulder worrying if someone else is trying to pull the same trick on him! ‘ – Very True

    But to achieve that one BIG goal, doesn’t one need to set several small goals?

    Oh absolutely! No doubt about that..

    A very nice post, it is making me think and re-think about the financial decisions I have been making lately, whether I’m am really thinking BIG or not. Whether I would like my decision after 10 years or not.

    Thank you 🙂

  12. If small goal is a crime… sigh… I m a criminal !! 😦


    You know what Dhiren – what is ‘small’ to you, may be ‘big’ for someone else.. It is all subjective isn’t it? At the end of the day I think each of us tailors our aspirations and ambitions to suit our lives(and loves:))

  13. Aiming big is a virtue, as Dr. Kalam suggested. And being ambitious and achieving your ambition is also desirable.

    However, we can aim big in many different aspects of life. Those who achieve monetary success in life tend to look down on those who regard other types of success to be more important.


    Oh absolutely! Materialistic gains are no way a benchmark of success.. Infact , most of the people who are genuinely respected are respected for their values.. And people who tend to judge people on materialistic goals are not, in my opinion, true successes.. Yes, aiming big , I think is very individual.. and can be done in any sphere of life..

  14. I wonder why success nowadays has only one definition! By normal standards I am not at all ambitious.. but my ambition differ.. I want to live a life wherein each moment is enriched.. and not a single moment is such that I can think.. I can do something better in this moment..

    You are so right! Success and ambition are personal. And one person’s success could be a failure for another.. So I think it makes sense to make your own goals.. I think when we say ‘normal standards’ we try to apply other’s standards to judge whether or not one is successful.. To me – I have my own goals – and I try not to aspire by comparing with others – that just brings dissatisfaction..

    And this surely is tough to achieve 🙂

    Oh I rambled!!

    1. Koramanagala is no longer outskirts of bangalore 😉 It is the centre 😀
    I know 🙂 This was around 35 yrs back when it was considered outskirts 🙂 Now it is bang in the centre 🙂

    2. Honesty by far is looked down upon and looked as a liability instead of virtue.. sad isnt it?

    Yes, that is what I really feel bad about..

  15. Wonderful one Smitha.
    as of now i am one criminal coz of small goals 😀
    keep posting such insightful posts and enlighten ppl like me 😀 😀

    Mystery, the way I look at it, each of us need to have goals that make sense to us.. If you are satisfied – then so be it… What you might consider ‘small’ might be ‘huge’ for me 🙂 And goals are not necessarily materialistic either…

  16. such an interesting insight Smitha! yup, i stay with u on that one..no point losing a good night’s sleep over success / ambitions!

    i’d rather earn it the right way, that makes me proud of myself…even if it takes longer or needs more work than ppl around me r putting in!

    😀 hugs!

  17. Nice post smitha.

    I am always a criminal,i can’t never aim big,how hard i try, at the end my goal is always small :(, maybe i will change in future.

    The way I look at it – you have to be happy and at peace at the end of the day.. Small or big does not matter..

    The person whom i want to meet before i die is Mr.Kalam.:)

    Saritha – I would love to meet him too!! He is so inspiring isn’t he?

    And delighted to see you back!!!! Waiting for your posts now 🙂

  18. People are unscrupulous because they want to reach their big goal in a hurry and I guess that is why ambitious is often used negatively. Very very few people can make it quickly through some brilliant talent. Most of us have to work really hard, and often reaching the heights of success means working hard from a young age. I believe in big dreams too, and that is what has been drummed into me too! So nothing wrong with it.

    Yes, you are right – it is the fact that people are in a big hurry! So tend to take short cuts instead!

    • Well said Nita. I agree with that. One more point: When you are overly ambitious and care only about the results rather than how you actually got them, you will not be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour. I am reminded of an ancient Chinese proverb: ‘Cut your own wood and it will warm you twice’ And that is the reason why quality in education has taken such a huge beating!

      Destination Infinity

  19. honesty and big is also a grey expression – there is room for debate. you can make the other person see you are honest however dishonest one is. Nobody can ever coffer up billions by being honest. call it manipulation, outlook, spice things up, white lie — even immensely talented people get hidden because they have not been marketed. aren’t advertisements a huge lie ? — PR is nothing but — spice things up.

    Big is a grey area.. Honesty – for me – not so much 🙂
    As for PR – I see nothing wrong in it – it is all true.. I mean there is nothing wrong in show-casing what you have actually done.. But it would be wrong if you are lying about it.. I guess..

    human emotions also get in the way and things are seldom looked at black and white — don’t you think ?

    Yes, human emotions do get in the way, and there definitely are grey areas there – agree totally with you on that…

  20. very well said and you have echoed my thoughts here……
    All through, when I was told to be ambitious, never was I told that it was alright to be unscrupulous.. Never was being dishonest an option. It was always about being ambitious but righteous and honest and to be able to stand up against wrong and the unjust.

    and the same about house…..we also thought on the same lines that locality has to be one where we would love to stay, in Hindi we say…property hamesha haath badha kar hi leni chahiye.

    Thank you Renu – I just feel very strongly that ambition and dishonesty now seem to go hand in hand.. people have started believing that there is no other way..

  21. The key, according to me, is to think big and reach big but with integrity! I loved this post and totally agree Smitha.
    Also success not for sake of success but for the joy of a job well done. Doing what we love to do, and then caring less for how much money one makes more for how much happiness the job gives you….

    IHM, Totally! As you have said it so beautifully – ‘Also success not for sake of success but for the joy of a job well done. Doing what we love to do, and then caring less for how much money one makes more for how much happiness the job gives you….’ – That is definitely much much more important!

  22. Very insightful. And yes the problem arose with ambition probably because ambition was only seen towards materialistics things and success only in terms of money, power or fame. Ambition is a must but must be in the right spirit, and in the right direction. Our scriptures and our religion probably stand alone in celebrating wealth and power. There is nothing wrong in acquiring money or material goods, as long as we do not become a slave to them and atleast some of it is used for God’s work meaning given back to the society.
    And the understanding that ambition is very personal and not all comes in the money, power, fame fold is also important.

  23. Again, when we started looking at treetops – he inspired us to aim for the stars.

    loved these lines Smitha 🙂
    your uncle is a wise, wise man 🙂

    so many times it happens in life that we do exactly this..

    yes dishonesty and being unscrupulous is generally associated with being ambitious.. but it is not always so as you believe too 🙂

    Kiran Bedi for example…

    She is one woman who is ambitious but has always but always refused to bow down to pressure of any kind …
    She was the ideal of mom and dad’s generation and of mine too 🙂
    as I am sure she is yours too 🙂

    I think being ambitious for you and me and for so many of our friends here means that one aspires to do bigger things…one constantly thinks of how to touch the lives of many more people..of how one’s capability can be used to the maximum …of how one should not get bored of a job but keep searching for more exciting ways to make the job more interesting 🙂

    and the bottomline is happiness and satisfaction..hai na? 🙂

    loved this post Smitha 🙂

    and you know what I believe?
    That one’s honesty does pay 🙂

    I have seen mom and dad being taken in by very clever relatives and friends …and even colleagues..

    it used to make me furious then..

    now however I see a calmness in them ..not one that comes with age…but one that comes with having a lived a life of honesty, joy and contentment 🙂

    I am sure that is the case with your parents and inlaws too:)

    and that is what makes it all worth it 🙂

    (((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))

  24. 10 years ago, K’mangala was “outskirts” of B’lore??? How things change!!! Nice post & a nice lesson esp since we are now on the lookout to buy a place.

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