Who are you?

According to a recent talk at Aravind by Mindtree co-founder Mr. Subroto Bagchi, an individual can be defined with the following six criteria:

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Network
  • Networth
  • Family
  • Health

Adding these criteria together forms an individual’s platform. It is through this platform that we follow our dreams and goals in life. However, two individuals with the same platform may have vastly different outcomes in life. Why? Because we are highly influenced by our desires/purpose.

Mr. Bagchi says it all comes down to the matrix.


A. High platform, Low purpose

Individuals are very motivated by money. They desire consumption. Their biggest mistake is the belief that they are indisposable. For instance, they may fail to acknowledge the line of qualified people in line for their job.

B. High platform, High purpose

People who fall in this category desire legacy. They wish to leave something beneficial for the next generation. These people tend to hold a lot of power and are highly respected. Consequently, they rarely receive negative feedback.

C. Low Platform, Low Purpose

People who land in this category are motivated by existence. They make sure to attend every single wedding, birthday, and funeral. Their biggest fallacy is comparison. By constantly comparing themselves and others, they fail to recognize the intermediate steps and obstacles individuals face to get from one point to another.

D. Low platform, High purpose

And last but not least, these individuals desire innovation. Their mistake stems from a fear of scale. They worry of losing quality if they increase the scale of their work.

Note: Purpose is defined by impact over time. High purpose means impacting a lot of people over a long period of time.

In an ideal society, equal ratios of each category would provide a nice balance of innovators, money makers, event planners/attenders, and power holders. However, this is rarely the case. What’s more important, however, is that we are not tied down to one category. Depending on our desires and life circumstances, we have the potential to move through these categories.

Dr. V, founder of Aravind Eye Hospital, exemplifies someone who was able to move through this matrix. He started off in low platform, high purpose by serving in the Indian Army Medical Crops. After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he was bed-ridden for nearly 2 years, leaving him crippled and unable to continue his career as an obstetrician. He shifted to low platform, low purpose. While most people might have given up, Dr. V decided to pursue his interest in medicine through a field that would allow him to operate with his condition. By switching to ophthalmology and constantly training himself to hold a scalpel, Dr. V became one of the most well-recognized cataract surgeons. While most people might sit back and enjoy retirement, Dr. V worked even harder to develop a system of eradicating needless blindness. He saw the problems associated with access and cost to eye care so he strived to create a system of treating patients for free.  These pursuits moved him to the low platform, high purpose quadrant. Unlike people in this category, Dr. V was not afraid to scale his innovation. Working hard to develop his 11-bed hospital to a full 600-bed hospital and to open Aravind hospitals in other regions of India, Dr. V created a legacy. His remarkable eye care system has been studied by business schools all over the world, attracting curiosity in its ability to provide free eye care while still sustaining a profit. The current Aravind ophthalmologists follow in Dr. V’s footsteps, thereby also identifying with this rare category—high platform, high purpose.

After a nice run through the park with Dr. Tulika this morning, our conversation led to how we define success and how it changes with age and culture. She brought up Mr. Bagchi’s matrix and we had an interesting discussion about which category to strive for. As my internship comes to an end, I could not imagine a better way of thinking about my experience at Aravind. I’ve had to recognize my platform and reflect on the motivation behind my goals. The matrix offered a new perspective to understand my role in India and as an intern at Aravind.

Where do you fall in the matrix?

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About Busra Gungor

Class of 2017. Majoring in BIBB with a minor in Health Services Management. Intern at Aravind in Madurai, Tamil Nadu in 2015.