Training for Perfection

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room this morning, I couldn’t help mulling over how much trust we put in those who practise medicine. No other profession receives or commands such leaps of faith.

At Aravind a high emphasis is put on excellence of surgery. Now most of us like to be good at what we do. We take pride in our work. Good performance leads to recognition from peers and others higher up in the company or organization. But Dr.V used to talk about not just being good or very good at what you do. He used to talk about training for perfection. And that very high standard of excellence was first and foremost placed internally – – training himself for perfection.

The man who trained himself for perfection

In the documentary, Infinite Vision, there is a beautiful scene where Dr.V is addressing the Harvard Divinity School. He talks about the faith that patients place in doctors. The film cuts to a beautiful old face – – wrinkled by age and poverty, dressed in a simple white sari, no blouse, she is shaking her head and gesturing at the doctor. You hear Dr.V’s voice-over “Now, here is this old lady. She puts so much faith in me…. So how can I train myself to perfection?”

I have seen the film hundreds of times. And every time it comes to this part I feel an inner stillness, a chill of being overawed. Most of us try and improve ourselves for a variety of reasons: to be better at what we do, to be better people, impress others, etc. It is driven from a fairly ‘me-centric’ approach. But here is this man (waving his arthritis-bent fingers in the air), trying to not just do a ‘good job’, but pushing for ‘perfection’ — and not for his ego or job-productivity, but because he feels driven to be of service to that old lady and millions of others like her.

The realization is of such thundering proportions that I can only do what the poet Mary Oliver urges us to do with life: “Pay attention.
 Be astonished. 
Tell about it.”

Working on this book provides so many opportunities to be astonished and, to be deeply grateful.


2 thoughts on “Training for Perfection

  1. Jyoti says:

    Dear Suchi,

    What this blog tells me is that asyou go through the process of writing this book, you are being uplifted to the regions Dr. V occupied so that the book does justice to his work and vision. The journey seems to be a learning in itself.

    I think this must be the same effect Mother Teresa must have had on those around her.



  2. Dhivya says:

    Dear Suchi,

    I haven’t seen your writings (beyond the occasional email – which is interesting too) but this is bEAUtiful!!

    This specific line from Infinite Vision IS really the essence of it all – it is most powerful and the impact is the same, each time I hear it.

    It’s really great that we have you two to write the Aravind story, the way it should be – not holding the business/management angle of things – but wonderfully articulating the undercurrent of spirituality. I hope this work of yours will underline, for the following generations of leaders at Aravind, the necessity to perceive Aravind’s work as something that strives beyond just competing in the eye care industry and seeing that the spirituality at work here should never be diluted.

    Thanks Pavi & Suchi for all this beauty. This blog is sooper ya!!


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