Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam rightly known as “the missile man of India and “People’s President” was former Indian scientist, author, aerospace engineer, inspirational speaker and the 11th President of India. Here are few management lessons we can learn from Bharat Ratna Dr. Kalam

1.Dream big

“Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action.” He overcame great huddles in his journey on the path to success. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and his mother Ashiamma was a homemaker. Despite of his underprivileged situation, Dr. Kalam had a dream to be successful since childhood. He had been one such gallant fighter; he started supporting his family since early childhood to make their ends meet. He along with his uncle distributed newspaper and delivered them door to door early in the morning before the school. With utmost focus he overcame all the odds and earned the scholarship to study his desired aerospace engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. 

2.Create your own destiny

“To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.” In1969, he became the project head of first SLV Rohini of India at Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Rohini was directed near the earth’s orbit successfully in 1980 under the guidance of Dr. Kalam. The legend made significant contributions to India’s Pokran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Before becoming the President of India in 2002 he served as the Chief Scientist Advisor to the Prime Minister in the 1990’s. 

3.Accept failures

“If you fail, never give up because Fail means “First Attempt In Learning”. In 1979, Dr. Kalam headed satellite launch vehicle mission failed miserably even Prithvi and Agni, the two famous missiles headed by him began with big failures but it was never a failure, always a lesson for a mastermind like him. The next year, in July 1980 they again launched the satellite and succeeded and Prithvi and Agni were successfully relaunched.

4. Stay humble

Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy success. After becoming President of India during his first visit to Kerala's Raj Bhavan he was entitled to invite two people. Any guesses whom he invited? He invited a road side cobbler and an owner of a very small hotel with whom he had spent a significant time as a scientist in Trivandrum. 'Children's friend' Dr. Kalam preferred writing his own thank you note.  When a Class 6 student drew a sketch of him and mailed him, he sent him a hand-written thank you letter. Once when he was about to deliver a lecture at school to 400 students and the power went off, he went right in middle of the crowd and delivered the lecture with his commanding bare voice.

5.Simplicity is beauty

I am not handsome but I can give my hand to someone who needs help… Because beauty is required in the heart, not in face…Did you know 'People President of India' Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam never owned a television set, fridge, car, air conditioner or trendy watches. He would get his news from the radio. After his death 'People's President's' possessions included his 2,500 books, his veena, some articles of clothing, a CD player and a laptop. Fondly known as 'the dream of the youth' Dr. Kalam only accepted books as gifts from anyone, he didn't charge even a single penny for the lectures he delivers within India or outside the country. Once when his subordinate at Défense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was busy due to work pressure and he couldn't take his children to an exhibition, Dr. Kalam shocked him and took his children to the exhibition instead. 

6.Put others first

Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow. Dr. Kalam while he was the President was once the Chief Guest at convocation of IIT (BHU) Varanasi. He refused to sit on a larger chair designated for him than others. He offered it to the vice-chancellor who too refused to sit on it and finally all chairs of same sizes were got on the stage. On one occasion at DRDO when Dr. Kalam and his team were conversing options to secure the perimeter of a building that needed protection, he rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of the building simply because birds will not be able to peach on the wall and it could be harmful to birds.

These are few management lessons I have learnt from his life. For more details, please refer to my course on basics of management.