Becoming Irreplaceable

“I am irreplaceable”.

I heard this statement when I watched a clipping of Priyanka Chopra’s interview with TIME magazine.  “PC” is an Indian movie star, a former Miss World (year 2000) and plays the lead role in Quantico.

A few other statements and thoughts from the interview stayed with me.  Here is a female actress who has not only carved a niche for herself, but constantly works on her self-development, and more importantly, knows where she is going.

“I don’t’ want to be stereotyped” and “I want to go where no man or woman has gone before”, she says.

You can watch the short, 4-min clip here.

From a self-development perspective there are some important lessons that PC teaches:

1. Self-confidence.  In the interview PC talks about her visit to the bathroom before the audition, where she reads her lines.  There are two parts to this.  The first one is the nervous, self-doubting part.  Then the second one is where she suddenly realizes all that she has accomplished, and that this should be a “routine” reading for her.  When she comes out of the bathroom and marches towards the audition room, imagine the feeling of pride and confidence that she would have mustered.  This (my own notes) would have translated in a transformed walk, presence and even facial expression.

2. Star presence.  So now she is in the audition room and reads the lines.  In doing so, she exuded such an aura that the producer Joshua Safran actually thought ‘this person feels like a star–how come no one has found her?’

In the TIME clip Priyanka states, “… and I got the job”.  But on the other side, the “hiring manager” Safran was blown away.  And he changed the central character’s role, just because of Priyanka Chopra.  Her casting in Quantico is now claimed as a game changer.

Even though Priyanka had her moment of nervousness and self-doubt just before the audition, she had a style, an aura, a gait and a presence powerful enough to sway the “hiring manager” – in her case it was Safran, the producer.

Contrary to popular belief, you can consciously work and build your presence.  Harrison Monarth has laid this out very well in his book, “Executive Presence – The Art of Commanding Respect like a CEO”.

As with most things, this requires hard-work, knowing your goal and patiently working on it.

3. Hard-work.  No one ever, EVER, gets to the top in ANY field or profession without substantial, sustained, consistent and properly directed hard-work.  Priyanka claims to have had very low self-esteem as a child, and also was subject to racial abuse in school.  But hard-work somehow, shows in the end-results, and for PC it is no exception.

 4. Changing the rules.  Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from the TIME interview was the thought of being “irreplaceable”.  This is a great mantra for success in any field including your workplace.  With the goal (of becoming irreplaceable) in mind, one has to first think and understand their unique skills and then to work really hard.

 5. Taking risks and going beyond the script.  In the interview, Priyanka states that she wants to go where no man or woman has gone before.  This means the willingness and eagerness to change the rules.  She is not the stereotype Bollywood actress, who stars in a bunch of movies, attends parties, award-shows, then takes up elderly roles in movies and retires.  Some of them started off as beauty queens, did modeling, TV soaps, and then came into movies.

Priyanka has checked off all these boxes, and then has added a few more.  She has released three song albums, has been appointed a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for child rights, promotes various causes including environment and women empowerment, and also has her own production company Purple Pebble Pictures.  And now this foray into Hollywood!

She is truly trying to be limitless.  Perhaps she may take up a meaningful role in politics or run a business or sports franchise in future.

Going back to her moment in the bathroom before the Quantico audition, Priyanka had a moment of self-doubt, but brushed it off.  She probably re-played her past successes in her mind, and knew she had what it took to nail the Quantico role.

The producer Safran, on the other hand, with a bunch of highly-talented actresses to choose from, was blown away.  The competition stood no chance.  How many from the competition could have influenced Safran to change the central character’s role?

From a self-development perspective it is important to understand what you are capable of and that you can bring immense value to the task you are approaching (the Quantico role, in this case).  Once you know it deep within, believe it, and go all out for it, nothing can stop you.

This realization is the pinnacle of self-development.

Gordon Ritter found of VC firm Emergence Capital, put it as – “The more you put yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure you accomplish anything, and then you do, the more you realize that you can do anything.

You develop yourself as you go along – take small risks at a time, step out of your comfort zone, pull it off, develop some more, and then do it all over again.  Every time you take higher risks and work harder, you build greater confidence.  You do this to a point where you get the feeling deep within that you can do anything – that you can become irreplaceable!