Deconstructing success

Rakesh Sinha tells Jack Canfield that success can be broken down into basic components and then mastered. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

The Elements of Success — Thumbs Up

Jack Canfield: You told me a story about a C-Section. I’d really like for you to unpack that for me.

Rakesh Sinha: In 1986, I was performing a C-Section on a woman who had some previous surgery. She had scar tissue and that is why we had to do a C-Section. The thing about C-Sections is that once the anaesthesia is given, in approximately 7.5 minutes, you must deliver the baby. We take a little time to clean up the patient, paint and drape, put in catheters. From the time I put in the incision in the abdomen, I have about 2.5 minutes to deliver the baby. If I take longer, there is a possibility that the baby will aspirate some fluid into the lungs and the baby can actually drown inside.

I started this surgery, cut open the abdomen, the skin, the subcutaneous fat and I realised that there was no space. The anesthesiologist was there and so was the paediatrician; to take the baby. It was 60 seconds, and I was nowhere close to delivering the baby.

I thought of everything that I had read about C-sections: I was a Post Graduate teacher, so I was recollecting what I would tell students if I was to teach them how to handle such situations. And I was nowhere close to opening the uterus and delivering the baby.

The anaesthetist said, ‘Dr Sinha, 90 seconds up’. And I started getting worried; I just did not know how to go ahead. I kept asking for the mop and the haemostasis and the diathermy, and time went on. 120 seconds up. And I could actually feel beads of sweat flowing down my forehead. I started imagining the worst things that could happen to the baby: I started imagining, what do I tell the husband of this women who was sitting out, ready to become a father? What do I tell this woman when she comes out of anaesthesia, hey, why did I lose the baby [if I had lost the baby]? And about 130 seconds later, I split open the uterus and delivered the baby.

The baby was not breathing. I handed over the baby to the paediatrician, and until the paediatrician resuscitated the baby, I just couldn’t continue with the surgery. And it was only after a few seconds that I could hear a few gasps of the baby. And then the paediatrician said, the baby is fine, Dr Sinha, continue with the surgery. And then the baby cried. And Jack, I tell you, I nearly cried, hearing the baby cry.

So my question here is, do I blame the surgeon who had done the previous surgery and say, hey, it’s not my fault, you didn’t do the earlier surgery well and so I am in this state.; Or do I say, okay I am tired today, so I’ll get up tomorrow morning and start again. Or do I google “how do I delivery a baby in this condition”?

I learnt a few lessons during this episode: the first one was, we must become unstoppable: whatever we take up, we should just not stop. The second one was, failure is not an option: how could I start a surgery like this, and expect to fail.

And the third lesson was: it isn’t over until I WIN. There’s no stopping over.

I think the important thing is what are the thoughts that you think of in these situations? What are the images you build up in your mind? And, what action do you take?

Jack Canfield: You are writing a book on the Anatomy of Success, and you are deconstructing success by taking it down to its basic elements just like you would when you’re working on a cadaver to learn how the body is. So what have you found: what are these elements and how is that whole process for you?

Rakesh Sinha: You know, when we start dissecting in the anatomy hall, we cut open the cadavers, we actually go into the skeletal system i.e. the bones, the muscles and the ligaments. So that’s Anatomy.

When we look at the components of success, essentially there are three components: first is, Biology; the second is the Learned component; the third is the Cognitive component. And finally there is neurophysiology, the neurotransmitters, which are there all over the brain.

Biology means the genetic makeup, anatomical centres [like the various centres for decision-making etc.]

Then we have the learned component, and Benjamin Barber said it beautifully, “There are two kinds of people: it’s not the rich’ and the poor, it’s not the educated and the uneducated, it’s not the people living in urban areas and the villages. There are only two kinds of people: learners and non-learners. And it’s been found that the successful people are the learners.”

The third component is the cognitive component, also called volition. It’s your thinking, it’s your inner urge. It is this component that helps us all to succeed. So you may not be very genetically privileged, you may not have had a brilliant upbringing. But if you have this inner urge to succeed, then this component gets anyone to succeed. So these are the three components of deconstructing the word success.

Dr Rakesh Sinha with Jack Canfield
Deconstructing success: Dr Rakesh Sinha with Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield: A lot of people would say, okay, wait a second, Rakesh, What about luck? What about being at the right place at the right time? What about negative factors that influence you from outside and that’s what determines your success? What’s your position about luck?

Rakesh Sinha: When preparation meets opportunity, that’s when others call it luck. In the 1972 Olympics, Mark Spitz won seven Gold medals. And that was the first time someone got seven individual gold medals. He was asked by a journalist; when he came out of the water with his 7th win, “Hey Mark this must be your lucky day’. And Mark apparently turned around, smiled and said, luck was not designed for such achievements — you can’t get a Gold medal in the Olympics by being lucky.

Luck is when you go to Vegas and you’re sitting at a casino, you pull that slot machine, and you get a lot of coins: that’s luck. I can’t become an excellent surgeon by being lucky.

So all of us have the same resource: we have 1,440 minutes in a day, 525,600 minutes in a year: that’s it! Whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re educated or uneducated, that’s the resource all of us have. How we utilise that, actually decides how successful we are to become rather of saying, I was lucky.

We should be willing to pay the price in full. I think you’ve discussed this several times: if you want to achieve success, find out what is it going to cost you in terms of your effort, courage and determination [not money]. Pay the price in full and pay upfront i.e. in advance, if you want to achieve success in life.

Jack Canfield: I know that you’ve learned lessons from your patients that you’ve written about in your book. What are some of those lessons?

Rakesh Sinha: When my patient signs the Informed Consent for surgery, she actually entrusts her life to me. She writes down, I’m willing to undergo this surgery; whatever decision Dr Sinha takes is fine with me; whatever anaesthesia is given, whatever are the consequences of this surgery. That means she trusts me so much. The lesson that I learned was that I can’t betray that trust. Under any circumstances, I must live up to that trust. So can we extrapolate this to other professions and businesses?

When your customer comes to you, they trust you with your product or service. So you should never betray that trust. Trust was one of the most important factors I had learnt.

The second was Competence. When a woman comes into my clinic to do surgery, she hopes that I am competent enough to do the surgery. She has done her homework, but she does not know what kind of training I’ve had. I need to develop competence to take care of her pathology under all circumstances.

I decided to Challenge Mediocrity: I decided I never wanted to be an average surgeon, I decided I wanted to do whatever it takes to become a brilliant surgeon. So let me ask you a question: would you like to take your wife to an average surgeon for surgery or would you like to go to an excellent surgeon? Challenge mediocrity in whatever profession anyone is in.

The third lesson was, Completion. And I realised that my patients want my help from the time they first walk into my clinic till the time their surgeries are complete and the post-operative recovery takes place, the histopathology reports are seen, and they want me to complete that entire loop and say, hey you are absolutely fine. Please go back home. I would hate to leave that patient in-between and say, now you’ll be managed by somebody else. Patients dislike that.

Jack Canfield: Is there anything else you would like to share before we bring this to a close?

Rakesh Sinha: To summarise, the world is divided into learners and non-learners. Hope is not a good success strategy. As a surgeon I realised that if there is an artery that is bleeding, I can’t stand there and say, “I hope this artery stops bleeding.” I better stitch that up or use a diathermy and seal that bleeding [as opposed to saying, “I HOPE that turns out good.”] So, as I mentioned earlier, God does not play dice with human beings. All of us have the ability, we have the Biological component that helps us, Learned component we have to put in a little effort, and finally the Cognitive component which actually gets us to think, to achieve whatever we want to achieve.

Adapted with permission from Jack Canfield’s Success Profiles DVD series, featuring Dr. Rakesh Sinha

This interview excerpt first appeared in the July 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine.

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Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is a motivational speaker and author. He is best known as the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which has nearly 200 titles in over 40 languages.
Rakesh Sinha
Rakesh Sinha (1957-2016) was a laparoscopic and robotic surgeon. He was also a motivational speaker and mind management expert. He was a licentiate practitioner for Neuro Linguistic Programming and ran marathons.


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