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Fail, fail again, and rise like a phoenix: Priyanka Chopra reveals 12 surefire ways to become her

At the lecture on the glass ceiling for publishers, Penguin Random House, Chopra revealed 12 ideas that formed the basis for her current stature on the global stage. 

Shriram Iyengar

Actress Priyanka Chopra's globetrotting has put her on top of the list of most popular Indians on the planet. Naturally, when the Quantico star took to the stage at the 11th edition of The Penguin Annual Lecture series which was held in New Delhi on 26 December, she was received with warm applause and a full house. Not one to disappoint, the actress soon shared some of the life lessons she learnt as a part of her lecture. 

The actress is the first woman to speak at The Penguin Annual Lecture series.

The actress was introduced by writer Shobhaa De. While she thanked De for inviting her to the lecture, Chopra said, "We will have to wait to see how much I am thankful for." Soon, the actress was describing her struggle and the journey that has ended with her on the global stage. Describing it as a challenge, she surprised the audience by saying she would like to share her '12 surefire rules of becoming Priyanka Chopra'. 

Just as an aside, Chopra added, "I was just kidding because us millenials don’t like to be told, so this is just a nudge in the right direction."

1. Be you 

Fierce. Fearless. These were a few adjectives that found themselves repeated through Chopra's lecture. While the topic of the lecture was the 'glass ceiling' faced by women across professions, Chopra started by saying that she did not actually set out to be a pathbreaker. "To be really honest, I was never on a mission to shatter anything. All I wanted was to chase my dreams. I wanted to evolve. I wanted to become the best version of me," she said. In the same vein, the actress laid down her number 1 rule — be yourself. 

"There is only one you. Once you understand who that person really is, you would have taken the first step in finding your unique self. That is the best version of you," said Chopra before adding, "Loosen up. Shake it off a little bit. Change is the only constant thing in life. And you are never too old or never too experienced to learn something new." 

2. Let your dreams fly 

While Chopra's rise on the global stage has astonished everyone, the actress maintained that they were the result of a lot of risky choices. She said, "Believe that you have already everything in your will to be able to be, and achieve, your dreams. Being fearless. I know I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. What am I today? I am an actor, a singer, an author, a producer, an artist." 

The actress added that she had reached this position only because "I made choices. Choices that I wanted for myself." 

3. Recognise new opportunities 

While choices have always been difficult, the actress maintained that it was also difficult to recognise an opportunity when it comes by. "Our job is to recognise them and make the most of them." The actress said. Just to make her point, she emphatically claimed, "So today, my path is just my own. It belongs to no one. My failures, my successes, my journeys… all mine." 

4. Be greedy for your ambitions

Recalling an incident during her first visit to the Grammy's 2012, Chopra said it was also the same time that her film with Shah Rukh Khan, Don 2, was screening at the Berlin Film Festival. With two major events scheduled in the space of three days, the actress's team suggested she will have to make a choice. But she was not one to back down. "I made some insane connections, and I made it happen. I went to both events and I looked great at both events. I don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t have everything," Chopra said.

5. Do not compromise 

In front of an audience filled with fans, the actress maintained that despite the many challenges over the years, she never compromised on what she wanted. Declaring her undying thirst for success, Chopra said, "Don’t let anyone or any situation dictate to you who you are or who you can be. My failures, my successes all belong to me. They are mine." 

6. Fail, fail again, and rise like a phoenix 

Her thirst for success also has drawbacks. At the lecture, Chopra recounted several instances where people had written off. Whether it was her decision to play villain in Aitraaz (2004) or a female empowered film in Fashion (2008) or sign an American TV show at the height of her powers, Chopra said all of these were packed with risks that were 'career ending'. 

As for her failures, the actress admitted she copes with 'tubs of ice cream' and a lot of encouragement from her family. She added, "I hate to fail. It's the one thing that is as certain as night and day, is that you will fail."

But Chopra emphasised "The only way to push failure aside is to move ahead. Not ignore it, analyse it, and learn from it. Always remember that you will never truly enjoy success until you have tasted failure. And trust me when I tell you, it tastes like shit." 

7. Be bold 

An actress who has shifted paradigms at every step, Chopra has come to embody the changing Indian woman on the global stage. Keeping with the theme of breaking the glass ceiling, Chopra said,"You have to take calculated, educated risks to evolve." 

However, the Quantico actress maintained this risk needs to be backed up with effort. "I can say the risks and the gambles were worth it. Do you know why? Because I backed my risks with my 100%," Chopra summed up. 

8. Surround yourself with the right people

As an actor and producer, Chopra depends a great deal on her friends and family. The actress has always maintained the influence her parents wield on her decisions, and has also depended on her mother Madhu who is also a key player in her productions, Purple Pebble Pictures. This, Chopra stated, is the key to enjoying a successful journey. 

"Friends, families, people around us are the greatest influences on our journey to success. You have to choose very wisely," she said, "Surround yourself with the right people who do not stab you in the back." 

9. You can never please everyone all the time

While she has been a savvy user of the social media, Chopra is well aware of the risks it entails. The actress has a very active Instagram and Twitter presence, and her international stature has only increased the attention on it. She certainly made the audience aware of it by saying "You can never please everyone all the time." 

Chopra cited the example of checking social media feeds to find someone 'trolling' a picture or a video, and said, "Especially in this age of social media, it is so easy for us to be confused with the voices that actually matter and the opinions of faceless people writing behind the anonymity of what the web offers. They don’t matter." 

10. Don't take yourselves too seriously 

Just as the audience thought the actress was done, she laughed saying, "Main abhi idhar hi hoon. Aur points baaki hain." (I am still here. There are some points left). The 10th point made by the actress was one that is a defining one across all professional spheres. Calling it her 'most important point,' Chopra said, "(Laugh) at yourselves, at situations. Find a moment, every single day, to appreciate this funny thing called life." 

The actress went on to add, "Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Have fun and just enjoy this beautiful journey that we have been put on." 

11. Give back 

A consistent characteristic about the actress has been her involvement in philanthropy. A United Nations global goodwill ambassador, Chopra spent a major part of last year travelling through South Africa, Syria, and India to meet victims and survivors of child abuse. The actress cited these efforts as a part of her attempt to give back to society. 

"My mother taught me when I was very very young that there is always someone who will be less fortunate than you. So give back, wherever you can," She told the audience gathered at the venue. 

12. Remember your roots 

For someone who is accused of spending more time in international waters than home, Chopra's last point was pertinent. Stating her roots as an 'army ki beti' (army kid), and said, "Don't ever forget your roots and where you came from...It is truly what defines you." 

With the lecture arriving to a close, Chopra quoted "LIfe’s journey is not to arrive at your graveside safely, in a well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, completely worn out, and say, ‘Holy shit’ that was a ride!’ "