Women Leadership | 5 Min Read


8 Guiding Principles that Help Me Measure My Success

Kalpana Tatavarti

Founder and CEO, Parity Consulting

Guiding Principles of Life

I was requested to give a talk at a large software company some time back, on my journey traversing work and life.

Different People define success differently; I have always measured success by asking myself how the experiences in my life have impacted me… Do I feel I have done meaningful work, do I feel energetic/enthusiastic, and am I in comfortable in my skin?

I thought it might be more valuable to share the guiding principles that have brought me to this place, than a listing of my life events, which I summarized in 8 key principles or mental models.

After the talk, a lot of people suggested I share the principles since they found them powerful… so here goes!

# Principle 1: The Inner Compass

“I am the Most Important Person In My Life”

It all begins with me and what I want. Clarity on what is important for me, where do I want to go, what am I good at and what gives me energy are questions that stay with me all the time. Everything I do, whether it is a dinner event I attend, a solution to a client… I ensure it answers these questions. I am alive to the reality that a few important things remain important over a period of time (family, work…) and others keep changing (what role, which career..) I make sure I articulate and align with these regularly. Sometime back achievement was important; even weight loss was about achievement, trekking the Himalayas was about achievement, getting that account was achievement! Now giving back is important, so enabling others through mentoring and coaching take a big chunk of my time.


#Principle 2: Giving My Best

“A Healthy Ego”

I do an absolutely fantastic job of anything I choose to do, and I work very, very hard. I believe there is just too much mediocrity going around; whether I clean my dining table or design a training intervention, I do it exceptionally well. Not to get that promotion, or even that order, but because it feeds into my self belief.  When I do something very well, I develop a healthy ego, based on facts. I have always been surprised at how some people need external motivators to do their jobs well!


#Principle 3: People who believe in me

“You are the sum total of the 5 most important people in your life”

We know who we are, in relation to others, as we relate to others. I am paranoid about surrounding myself with people who believe in me, (not just my achievements) who are positive & optimistic; I ruthlessly shed negativity and people who drain my energy and who make me feel less of myself. Paradoxically, I find that people who believe in me are my best critics, perhaps because they operate from a place of positivity. And oh, books are people too! I read somewhere “to read good books is like conversing with the finest minds”. True.


#Principle 4: To sell is human…

“It’s my responsibility to find opportunities for my gifts”

There is a lot of eyebrow-raising when I talk about sales… “are we products??” So I hasten to clarify that I am speaking here about service orientation, less about blowing my trumpet. I am the only person who knows myself best, and the gifts I have. I am constantly looking for opportunities on how best to serve others/the world with my gifts & talents. When we operate from this place of service orientation, I find we attract people and opportunities that need these gifts.


# Principle5: Pressing the Right Buttons-Influence

“What can I give you that is of value to you”

I make sure I am able to influence every stakeholder in my life. In my mind, a relationship is defined by our ability to impact each other.  Otherwise, you don’t have a relationship. That means spending time understanding what is valuable for that person and giving it to them. Some people need human connect, some need knowledge, others need resources. Whether it is a client or your significant other, spend time to understand what is valuable to them… and don’t forget to balance their needs with your needs, the foundation of assertiveness.


#Principle 6: Building a Network

“We live in an interdependent world”

Much has been written and spoken about networking but it still continues to be the most misunderstood skill. a) The depth of your network begins with the width of your network. I remember a friend once told me “I go wherever I am invited” which is a bit much even for an Extravert like me, but I agree with the essence of this advice. The more people I meet, the more probability I have of having a strong, diverse network. b) Networking is an exchange of value and it requires investment before you can leverage it. I have always chosen to be the first to give and share in any relationship. I just love, love Adam Grant’s book ‘Give & Take’. I fully resonate with every thought in that book!


# Principle 7: Taking That Risk

“Beyond your comfort zone lies the gift”

One consistent feedback I received in that holy of holies of personal growth, the human process lab was, “She is not afraid to experiment.” So also in life. Whether it is learning new things (I learn something new every year) or trying new things, experimenting makes me comfortable with the two Fs: fear and failure. When we push comfort zones, we learn to deal with fear; I am the master, not my fear; and then the world becomes limitless with opportunities.  Pushing my comfort zones also gives me perspective beyond one single narrow world! Because I understand that there are many worlds (as Richard Bach would say) I bounce back from failure also quickly!


#Principle 8: Balance

“Balance is in the mind”

And last but not least, Work-Life Balance! This topic has been done to death and I disagree with every idea floating around about it. Actually ‘annoyed’ would capture what I feel nicely!

Specifically at two key thoughts

  1. Work-Life dichotomy – This whole concept of seeing work and life as two different, dichotomous things at war with each other! For me, both are the same and feed into each other, beautifully. I carry my work in my head everywhere I go and carry my ‘life’ in my heart wherever I go! They enrich each other! Once I got this, I don’t see any struggle or having to choose between the two.
  2. Work as a chore – I just don’t get this. Work is wonderful, it gives me energy, it gives me an avenue to express my potential & gifts. Beyond a wholesome discipline & perspective, I absolutely adore work! And I fully resonate with Lord Krishna that life is ‘Leela’…a journey on which we all embark on, to learn more about ourselves. Have fun!




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