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A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or better known as A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India. He was a scientist turned statesmen and before he became the President of India, he was very active in aerospace engineering. Kalam was also known as the “Missile Man of India” due to his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology.

Kalam was elected as the 11th President and was highly regarded as the “People’s President”. He has also received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, which is India’s highest civilian honor. Kalam has published numerous books including India 2020 where he stated his action plan to develop the country into a “knowledge superpower” and a developed nation. He has contributed a lot to the people of India and has brought the country to a higher ground.

Abdul Kalam passed away in 2015, however, his hard work did not go wasted and he has left a great legacy for India.

In this article, you will learn the top 10 rules for success from this amazing man who has achieved remarkable results in his life and the good he has brought to the people.

1. Learn How to Handle Failure

Kalam said that if you want to be successful, you must not only learn how to handle success but also learn how to handle failures. This is because you will definitely face rejections, failures and all sorts of challenges while you are on your journey to achieve your dreams. Thus, learning how to turn your failures into your success is one of the most important lessons you must acquire.

If you study how every highly successful people accomplish their amazing results in life, you will discover that every one of them failed at least once. In fact, many of them failed many times in their journeys, but none of them give up. They continue to work hard and learn how to handle their failures. At the end, they produce the results they want and achieve the success many dreams about.

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company that he started. However, that did not stop him from moving forward and learning to build better devices that revolutionized the industry with technology. Thomas Edison failed more than 10,000 times before he finally found the right material that made the lightbulb worked. When a reporter asked him about his failures, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” This is the spirit that you must adopt in order to achieve the success you want.

What you need to realize is that every failure and setback you receive, it contains the lessons for you to learn, to grow and to become better at doing things. Napoleon Hill, the father of personal development who wrote the book, “Think and Grow Rich” has a famous quote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Learn to deal with your problems and handle your failures. Just like what Kalam said, “Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”

2. Practice the Art of Giving

“Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work”, said Abdul Kalam. So practice the art of giving. When you give, help someone who is in need, and you make other people happy, you will feel the happiness and deep sense of fulfillment yourself.

Many great leaders told people to practice giving every day. And Kalam said that the easiest way to do this is to give kind words to others. You do not need to be rich and you do not need money to do this. When you talk to people, use good words and never insult, condemn, blame, or criticize.

Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, said that if you want to be an extraordinary leader and influence people, do not blame, or criticize others, instead, be lavish with your praise. Everyone loves it when others praise them, and nobody loves to be criticized or condemned. Thus, be kind with your words, make people happy and praise them.

Of course, if you have more, you can always donate and give back to the community and the world. The act of giving back will help make an impact on the world. If you are looking to make a real, lasting difference in this world, you can do it by giving back. When you say good words, you are leaving an impact on that individual. When you donate to the charity, you are creating an impact on the community and the world. More importantly, your act of giving back will get you inspired when you see the influence you have made to the people.

3. Imagine the Outcome that You Want

During a special session at the IIT Delhi campus, Kalam said these words, “Invention and discoveries have emanated from creative minds that have been constantly working and imagine the outcome,” and he continued, “Imagine the outcome in the mind with constant effort and all the forces of the universe will work for that inspired mind, thereby, leading to invention discoveries.”

Obviously, Abdul Kalam believed in visualization and the Law of Attraction. He believed that in order to achieve your dreams and to manifest the success you want, you must first imagine it in your head. You must see the picture vividly and visualize it regularly, and the universe will bring you what you have asked.

This happens to every successful people. Successful people think differently. They spend most of the time thinking about getting the results they want. They think about their dreams, breathe their dreams, eat their dreams, talk about their dreams, and go to bed with their dreams in their mind. You will become what you think about most of the time. And the Law of Attraction states that thoughts are things.

In a nutshell, you will live your thoughts and your thoughts will determine your reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Hence, if you want to live a better life and build a successful future, start by changing your thoughts. When your thoughts changed, your actions and decisions will follow suit. And when your actions and decisions changed, your results will change too.

4. Breakthrough Your Limits

You are your only limit. There is no such thing as impossible, but the only thing that will stop you is the limit that you create in your mind. If you always place a limit on everything you do, it will spread into your work and into your life. You have to understand that there are no limits, there are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

Limits only exist in your own mind. Henry Ford has a famous quote that says, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” And he is absolutely right. What you believe will become your limit, and your limit will determine how much you can accomplish in your life.

Before 1954, nobody could run a mile in less than four minutes. Even scientists have shown that it was basically impossible for the human’s physical body to break that limit. Until Sir Roger Bannister came around and broke the record. He trained hard and visualized his success every single day. And on May 6th, 1954, Roger Bannister completed the one-mile run in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. And he did the impossible to break the world record.

What is more interesting is that nobody has broken the record until Roger Bannister did it. And within that same year, 20 others have reported breaking the world record and finished the one-mile run within four minutes. This story tells us that it is our beliefs that shape our lives.

In order to produce outstanding success in life, you must break through your limits. You must believe in yourself that you can do it because your beliefs are your own limits. If you wholeheartedly believe that you can do it, you will achieve it.

5. Fight to be You

Another great success rule everyone should learn from Abdul Kalam is the spirit to fight to be you. You must feel that you are special and you are unique. You are different from other people and thus, it is not necessary for you to copy other people. The society has trained us to become and think like everyone else, but this is not the right path to shine. If you want to be extraordinary and accomplish amazing results in life, you must learn to stand out from the crowd. You must learn to be yourself.

It is important to be yourself because when you know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. In the business world, when you try to like your competitor, your business will set to fail. And just like every successful business in the world, you need to find your unique selling proposition. You need to find your own identity so that you can live in alignment with your core values and beliefs rather than living a life that someone else wanted you to be.

One great way how you can understand yourself better and be the most authentic you is to get in touch with your inner child. When you watch small children, you will notice how free they are and how little they care about what others think about them. Children are happy and are always living in the moment because they are living according to their values and beliefs. As they get older, adults will tell them to “fit in” and to “be realistic”. As a result, most people are not living the lives that they want, they are living the lives that other people wanted them to be and are bound by the rules other people have set.

Therefore, be a child again and remember to let your true nature shines. Always be aware of the quality of your thoughts that run through your mind at every moment. Learn to let go of old and useless thoughts that limit your success. Instead, observe your thoughts and make sure your thoughts are positive and able to empower you to achieve better results in life.

6. Be A Student

Abdul Kalam was a great student. Before he became the President of India, he was a scientist and was involved in the Defence Research and Development Organization and Indian Space Research Organization. Besides that, Kalam played a crucial role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, earning him the name, “Missile Man of India”.

Kalam was truly a student of life. He was always learning and trying to improve himself to get better each and every day. And this led him to write the book, “India 2020”, which focused on building India into a knowledge superpower. He believed that for someone to be successful, he must first be a student and be willing to learn as much as possible.

When the reporter asked Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX how he learned to build rockets, he said that he learned through reading books. Warren Buffett once told the audience during many of the interviews that he spent most of his day reading. And the billionaire investor said that one of the keys to success is to read as much as possible because knowledge works just like compound interest, but unfortunately, not many people will do it.

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you”, said Zig Ziglar, the famous success guru. So be a student like Abdul Kalam and commit to constant and never-ending improvement. The only way to unleash your inner potential is through learning and improving each and every day.

7. Be A Teacher

Besides being a great student, you must learn to be a great teacher too. The University of Central Florida once interviewed Abdul Kalam and asked him, “You have many accomplishments. You’ve written books, you’ve served as president, you’re an aerospace engineer, you’ve been a professor, but you say the title you like best is the title of teacher, why is that?”

And Kalam gave the answer saying that when he was in school, he was lucky to have met with a teacher that inspired him, taught him the way of life, and shaped his vision for the future. And that was why Kalam loved to be a teacher so that he could share the fantastic opportunity to grow minds, to give dreams to the young people, and to share dreams that will make someone a better human being.

Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to learn is to teach. When you share your expertise and teach others what you are good at, you will become better because you are ingraining that knowledge deeper into your mind. What is more important is that when you have the spirit to teach and to share, you are making a difference to the community and the world. Abdul Kalam’s teacher left a positive impact on Kalam’s life and this changed him forever.

The same thing happened to Les Brown, the successful motivational speaker. When Les was young, he was labeled as “educable mentally retarded” and nobody believed that he could amount to much, including himself. One fateful day, the life of young Les Brown changed forever when his teacher told him, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”

From that moment on, Les Brown started to believe in himself and decided that his life is up to him, not other people. And you should learn this great lesson too. Never be stingy with your knowledge. Be a teacher, share your expertise and make a positive impact in this world.

8. Work with Integrity

As the leader of the country, Abdul Kalam believed that every action the leader takes must be transparent. And he quoted, “Every leader should work with integrity and succeed with integrity.”

Integrity is one of the highest values that people seek when it comes to working together as a team, in an organization, and also in a country. An organization will not survive if the people that manage it have no integrity. This applies to every area of your life, whether it is in business, at work or in your relationship.

Leaders with integrity may not be the most famous, flashy, or the wealthiest, and they actually do not care at all. Integrity means doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and this is what makes someone with integrity successful. Imagine if your business partner cheats you, would you want to work with him again in the future? The answer is a resounding no.

Warren Buffett has a meaningful quote on this, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” You should not compromise your integrity and honesty in every situation even if it is just a small matter. When you compromise, it will become a habit and you will compromise very easily the next round. This will ultimately destroy your reputation and all the hard work you have poured in. Learn to be like Abdul Kalam and make integrity your highest priority.

9. Follow Your Dreams

When a student asked Abdul Kalam the question, “Sir, how did you become so great?” Kalam answered and said that he did not know the answer, but he personally believed that to become great and successful, you must have a dream.

It all begins with your dreams. What do you want to accomplish in your life and what are your goals? Who do you aspire to be and what are your visions? Highly successful people are motivated and they are always on the move to pursue something great, and this is because they have a dream. Without knowing what you want, you will end up being ordinary like most people. And to break through the barrier of ordinary, you need to have a strong and passionate dream to drive you in life.

According to Kalam, when you have a dream and you are absolutely committed to achieving it, your dream will drive you to learn more, to work more, to be fearless, despite all the challenges, and to persevere until you accomplish it. It is your dream that will make you an extraordinary person.

Tony Robbins, the well-known success coach once said that people are not lazy, they just have impotent goals, which means goals that do not inspire them. And if you truly desire to be successful and live your grandest dreams, make sure that your dreams are inspiring enough to drive you into doing whatever you can.

10. Be the Inspiration

Perhaps, one of the most remarkable sayings from Abdul Kalam is that he said, “As we say in India, where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is an order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.”

Kalam was truly an inspiration to many people, and he urged others to inspire the rest of the world too. He strongly believed that everything starts from within you, and you can make a difference in the world by becoming an inspiration to others. When you changed for the better, you can become the aspiration for others. And when others follow and do their best, the world will be in peace and harmony.

“All birds find shelter during a rain. But the eagles avoid rain by flying above the clouds. Problems are common, but attitude makes the difference”, said Abdul Kalam. So change your attitude and how you look at things. Look at the world not as it is trying to do harm to you, rather, look at the world as the world is bringing you the best. When you start to inspire others to do better in their lives, you are doing what Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

These are the top 10 rules for success from A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, one of the most respectable leaders from India. There are so much more you can learn from him, and these 10 rules mentioned above can be a great start to you. Learn and understand these rules, and apply them to your life.


  • impossiblehq.com/impossible-case-study-sir-roger-bannister/
  • cnbc.com/2016/11/16/warren-buffetts-reading-routine-could-make-you-smarter-suggests-science.html
  • inspire99.com/abdul-kalam-14-realistic-quotes-for-your-life/

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