Real life stories of people who made their passions their professions.

October 21, 2006

Among all the American consultants that I have mentioned in my links, previous posts and articles. I have found both the life story and work of Craig Nathanson the most inspiring. Co-sufferers have defined the wrong occupation as “spiritual suicide” and “lifetime imprisonment”. Craig, more than anybody else has made the career transition process(studies show that it can take anything between three to five years)seem smoother if not easier.

Among the numerous comments to my previous posts that I have recd so far, I don’t recall reading a single optimistic comment regarding career transition’s feasibility is . Most people say that they agree with me but beyond a stage, compromise becomes inevitable.

I have always been of the view that career consultants are happiness counsellors since a majority of time is spent at work. I feel that Craig, more than anybody else lives upto that description. He has also been kind enough to share the inspiring stories of many of his clients. Before we proceed to that, let’s have his life story from the great man himself (extract from his webstie):-

“After 25 years in Corporate America being good at what I did, but never liking it, I walked away. I walked away from faceless products, faceless bosses and pointless meetings. Over the next 4 years, I pursued my life’s passion — helping others of my age find the will and the strength to pursue their own passions. This change has given me peace and joy because I am now living my life with authenticity and integrity, and I am now being true to who I really am. But this change did not come without a price.I had to give up my million dollar house and I ended up in bankruptcy. The best I could afford was a 400 square foot, one bedroom apartment. Living an authentic life also meant that I could no longer stay in my lifeless and abusive marriage. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult time and there were days I wasn’t sure that I would be able to feed my kids. I remember once trying to find a pawn shop to sell my wedding ring to buy food. But we grew closer as a family and we had many fun-filled pizza and popcorn nights at home on the floor (no furniture!). Although I didn’t plan for this extreme situation, I did want to teach my kids a lesson about life and authenticity and what it meant to have integrity. Will you go homeless or die?You probably won’t die but you may have to re-define what homeless means. Following your vocational passion is not easy. It may be the hardest thing you will ever do.

I had days with no money, no gas and little food for the kids to eat. Yet somehow, someway, I always managed to come through when it counted.Even as I went through this time of crisis, I wrote and published a book, started a private practice, and started teaching, speaking and creating CDs and other products all targeted at those over 40.

My father’s suicide not long after his retirement just served to strengthen my belief that we all should be doing what we love. If he had found and pursued his life’s passion, perhaps he would still be alive today.One of the things that got me through was my deep belief in my new life mission: that the world would be a better place if we all did what we love.

I second that wholeheartedly since a majority of waking time is spent at work.

The link of the inspiring real life stories that Craig has helped are:-

Real life examples from Craig Nathanson

Craig has also been kind enough to share his numerous stimulating writeups:-

Interesting articles from Craig Nathanson

I have suggested in my previous posts that if the United States has such a serious problem, India with its huge population and lack of resources is bound to be worse. Where are the Craig Nathanson’s of India? For that matter, where are the real life stories of India?
We have had enough of theory and from next post onwards, I am going to try and feature Indian examples. Contributions are welcome.

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Kabhi alvida na kehna-Hamesha ke liye alvida kehna

August 11, 2006

Choosing the correct spouse and the correct occupation are the two biggest decisions of one’s life. Director Karan johar said in an interview in the context of the movie “Kabhi alvida na kehna” that “What happens if you find the right person at the wrong time after meeting the wrong person at the right time?” This is equally relevant for the other big decision of one’s life l ” What if you find the right occupation at the wrong time after finding the wrong occupation at the right time” ?

Since one has to spend three to four times the amount of time on one’s career vis-a-vis one’s spouse as it involves a majority of waking hours(, there are graver emotional and fiancial consequences . In a marriage, a divorce is at least feasible but in an occupation, many people find themselves trapped in what can be best described as a “lifetime imprisonment”. )

One cannot be happy if for a majority of waking hours, one is not in an occupation of one’s liking. Osho had used the word “dare devils” for people who had the guts to change their occupation.

Osho further said that it is not possible to know thyself without being yourself but being is realized only when one starts working (In work, we have the possibility of discovering ourselves) but it is too late to change by then as in some cases described below(Views of some vocational psychologists/ experts):-:-

 “The truth is that for most people, substantial career change is a multiyear process, from the first glimmer of exploration to the nuts and bolts of making it happen”-Curt Rosengren, person behind www.passioncatalyst.com.

“There is a huge difference between doing something because you want to and doing it because you are paid to. The decision to leave the security of a job(no matter how far short that job falls of perception of a “dream” job) is never taken easily”-Morgan and Banks, HRD consultants in 28 countries.

Sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to flirt with many possibilites.We do not give up a career path in which we have invested so much of ourselves unless we have a good sense of the alternatives. It takes on an average, three years from the time a person decides to leave a company until he or she walks out the door. Those are not good or productive years.- Heminia Ibarra, author of “Working Identity”.

Another American conultant, Craig Nathanson( http://www.thevocationalcoach.com/reveals how after 25 years of suffering, he just could not take it anymore and had to suffer a divorce and  bankruptcy but he forced himself to change his career to what he enjoyed more and made it his life’s mission to help other people in a simiar predicament.

Another consultant Lance Secretan calls for a destiny, cause and calling statement for everybody followed by a career meditation. All these complications show how tough it is and hense Hamesha  ke liye alvida kehna. In the movie Amitabh Bachchan says that love and death is in the hands of god. I would second that for love of profession(calling or vocation as well)

In each of the above books/sites and Po Bronson’s “What should I do with my life”, there are examples of people who have managed the change but they clearly reveal how long and tough  it can be. Nanette Hucknall’s “Karma destiny and career” describes in detail how much the family and friends have to adjust when the work msifit has to go “back to school”. I have not come across anybody in India who has gone back to school.

What I can’t understand is that if man can reach the moon and plan go to Mars, why can’t he make better proactive attempts to both know himself and ensure much faster change in a case of maladustment on  an issue so fundamental to  Individual’s happiness and society’s productivity.

President Abdul Kalam’s views are under “Quotable Quotes” under the  Relevant links section on the right 

It would not be out of place here to mention here that in the year 2002, the movie Devdas was released.Shahrukh khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali were the actor and director respectively.  It is all about how the hero goes into a negative spiral when he does not get whom he wanted as a life partner. This movie has been made nine times but the plight of the “Career Devdas“(not getting the career of one’s liking) has not been shown even once.

Though Farhan Akhtar is an intelligent director, the movie “lakshay” barely touches the issue considering the magnitude of the problem in my view. I did try to moot the idea to Mr Shahrukh khan through his brother-in-law(childhood friend of my brother) without success. As a student, it is very difficult to understand all this until the living hell is depicted on screen.

It would not be out of place to mention here what Shahrukh said in an interview that he gave to the times of India “Men and Women”,26th July, 2002. He says, “At the end of the day, you can take away everything from me but you can’t touch that ecstasy when I stand in front of the Camera- that’s the core of everything, there I am making love to my audience”. Shahrukh may not know it but some other great artists have expressed similar sentiments about their work. If only everybody could get such ecstasy; one should at least make an attempt.

Incidentally, Mr Bhansaligave an interview to Life positive magazine in the year March’2000 where he says ,” I tried a career in chartered accountancy but my entire being revolted. You have to be grateful to let life lead you and not fight it. And once you know what you want to do, the struggle for excellence begins. It never lets you give up”. As pointed out above, what about those who don’t know what they want to do or cannot change- their future can be described in just one word the other fantastic movie that Bhansali made- “B  L  A  C  K””

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(The movie reiview is given here- http://hirenshah.wordpress.com/2006/08/11/kabhi-alvida-na-kehna-osho-ka-alag-hai-sochna-svabhavik-hai-bahuton-ko-chaahna-sirf-ek-ke-saath-kyon-hamesha-rehna/


Poem-Gardening v/s Potting in Education

October 10, 2005

It is said that education is all about bringing out already existing potential instead of blindly stuffing facts.. Some parents and teachers try to be potters who mould the clay the way they like. Each child has infinite potential and is a future tree and therefore be treated the way a gardener treats a seed. Based on what the famous philospher Socrates said “Educations is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”, this poem advocates Gardening instead of Potting to groom your children. Though directed at teachers and educators, this is equally true for parents as well.

To shape your child’s future, it is absolutely essential
To know his already existing inner potential
Some people spend a lifetime in pinpointing their talent
In such matters, nobody can afford to be nonchalant

It is only by early identification of your child’s unique gift
That you can really make your child’s fortunes lift

A teacher has to indulge more in talent extracting than knowledge stuffingChoosing potting instead of Gardening tantamounts to bluffing.

Instead of potting which in molding clay can mislay
Opt for gardening which in sprouting seed produces the right breed

Gardening can really shape a child’s destiny
Potting sooner or latter will cause a mutiny

Being a gardener can prevent your child from lifelong imprisonmentBeing a potter can avoid true enlightenment

If you choose to be a gardener, your will come out a winner
As a potter, in your child you will stifle the creator

When you opt to be a gardener, you are a true trainer
When you opt to be a potter, you are a mistaken, misguided selector

As a Gardner, you shall be the ideal career designerAs a potter, you shall be courting disaster

A Gardner is not a stuffer but a finetuner.
Instead of being a potter, be a mentor, an educator.
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Associated article- Shaping your child’s future- Do you want to be a gardner or a potter?


Article-Isn’t this a mockery of Education

October 10, 2005

Education is supposed to draw out the best but is it anywher near it?
The word education is derived from the two latin terms “ek” and ‘ducere’. Ek means ‘out’ and ducere means to draw. Therefore, the word education means to draw out from within, not to stuff in. Unless one knows what is in, how can one draw out. It is a pity that even in the 21st century we have not been able to proactively probe and determine accurately what each person should be. It is still done by trial and error. Following are some of the career switches from Morgan and Bank’s book “ Make a dream career” and Po Bronson’s “ What should I do with my life “ FROM ACTOR TO RECRUITMENT SPECIALIST. FROM WOOL CLASSER TO RECRUITMENT SPECIALIST. FROM DOCTOR TO SPORTSWRITER FROM MIDDLE MANAGEMENT TO PSYCHOLOGIST FROM, FOREIGN CURRENCY TRADER TO TURF SUPPLIER FROM TEACHER TO SPORTS ADMINISTRATOR FROM SECRETARY TO BUSINESS OWNER FROM LAWYER TO EXECUTIVE RECRUITER FROM FINANCIAL INSTITUTION TO SALES AND MARKETING FROM LAWYER TO CELEBRITY MANAGER AND PROMOTER FROM JOURNALIST TO PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT FROM TYPESETTER TO SALES REPRESENTATIVE FROM MARINE BIOLOGY TO ADVERTISING FROM ACCOUNTANT TO FASHION DESIGNER FROM LAWYER TO ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS OWNER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWYER TO MEDICINE POLICY PUBLIC RELATIONS- GARDENING MEDICINE TO SURGICAL ROBOTICS DRIFTER – CAREER COUNCELLOR MARKETING AND PROMOTION – GOLFER LAWYER-LAW TEACHER BANK MANAGER- SOCIAL WORKER ELECTRICIAN-PROFESSOR-BUSINESSMAN. BLUE COLLAR WORKER- POLITICS. GEOLOGIST- INSPECTOR INVESTMENT BANKER TO CATFISH FARMER. SALESMEN-WRITER. DIPLOMAT-TEACHER FILMS- CAR ENGINEER SECURITIES- INVESTMENT SPECIALIST BUSINESSMAN- SOCIAL WORKER LAWYER-MINISTER MARINE BIOLOGIST- DENTIST. REAL ESTATE BROKER- FACTORY OWNER INSTALLATION MANAGER- BUSINESS OWNER. BUSINESS/LAW- TEACHING BUSINESSMAN- POLITICIAN. CPA TO WEBSITE PROGRAMMER CORPORATE LAWYER- TRUCK DRIVER. POET- CHEF CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR-LAWYER POLITICS- BUSINESS HIGH PROFILE BUSINESS OWNER-POLICEMAN STOCK MARKET- DOCTOR As can be seen above, some of these career switches are extremely drastic. What a colossal waste of time, money and energy. If instead it could be predetermined in advance even with a reasonable accuracy what each person should be, consider the mind boggling implications. If people could be fitted into the jobs that they liked, the output in terms of productivity of the organization and happiness of the individual are mind boggling. However is it the sad destiny of some people to be stuck in the wrong jobs forever. Let me end with something I find very interesting To prevent all this, one suggestion could be to have a life coach right from if not early childhood then at least high school.


Published Article-Don’t settle for less than a calling

October 10, 2005

This article, written by me, appeared in India’s premier spiritual magazine “Life positive” in November’2001
Most of us go through life engaged in jobs that give us no satisfaction. Many of us spend a lifetime imprisoned in work that we hate. Finding your calling early in life is crucial. But whose job is it to find it? Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan, on being asked the secret of his success once remarked: “I consider myself lucky that I could decide early in life that I wanted to be an actor. I have come across many people who do not know what to do with themselves.” It is important to identify your real interests correctly early in life. Indian tennis ace Vijay Amritraj says in his autobiography: “I have been incredibly lucky because I have earned money doing what I like best. My one nightmare is doing something I hate just to earn enough to keep my family secure. I hope it never comes to that.” Thomas Edison, in spite of working 18 hours a day, once said: “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.” Amritraj and Edison are well on their way to self-actualization
Psychologist Abraham Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was born to do, his calling. “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write,” he said. Self-actualization is at the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If a person’s self-actualization needs are not met, he feels restless, edgy, lacking something. But isn’t it the job of education to discover talent, determine potential and help in identifying an occupation closer to a calling? EDUCATION AND OCCUPATION The word ‘education’ is derived from two Latin terms ek and ducere. Ek means ‘out’ and ducere means ‘to draw’. Therefore, education means to draw out from within. This is contrary to the established practice of ‘stuffing in’ knowledge. Does imbibing more knowledge (read information) make us more intelligent? The present-day obsession with qualifications and knowledge leads many people to live miserable lives. As somebody pointed out sarcastically: “The world is full of educated derelicts.” And what does occupation mean? Literally, it implies something that occupies you. Quite obviously, everybody cannot be occupied by everything. Psychiatrists employ ‘occupational therapy’ to treat people with certain physical or mental illnesses by giving them creative or productive work. But finding that creative or productive work to suit the person’s temperament cannot be easy. Even yoga and meditation would not really help if followed by eight to ten hours of misery at the workplace. When it comes to occupation, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. The importance of pinpointing the work cut out for each person can only be gauged when you see the agony of extreme job misfits or “square pegs in round holes”. Only an Albert Einstein can have the wisdom to reject an offer to become President of Israel because he argued that he did not have enough experience of working with human beings. Only an Alyque Padamsee* can have the wherewithal to pursue two careers throughout his life to enable one to fund the other. Although theater was his real passion, it paid a pittance and he had to take up advertising as a full-time profession. * Padamsee is a popular theatre personality in India DETERMINING POTENTIAL At what stage should the aptitude of a person be determined and how? Should it be on the basis of activity or knowledge, or should it be left to the individual to make a choice? Should it be determined proactively after looking at market realities by a vocational psychologist? Or is it the responsibility of educational institutions to determine who has talent for what so that time and effort is not wasted? In his book Success at the Speed of Thought, Bill Gates points out that with the coming of computers and the internet, for the first time in the history of mankind it was possible to give customized education, that is, alter the teaching style to the mode that suits the child most. A Reader’s Digest article titled ‘Should you see a career doctor?’ implied that leaving a career choice to the individual would be almost as absurd as leaving the choice of treatment to the patient. The article went on to say that the counselor sometimes gives advice that is drastically different from what the parents say because the counselor is able to make a more objective appraisal. Former Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan used to say that talented cricketers emerged not because of, but in spite of, the cricket system in his country. Our educational institutions are replete with examples where students make right career choices by default rather than by design. Not trying to explore an individual’s potential before he enters professional life seems fatalistic. Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So is it the teacher’s job to impart knowledge or to detect imagination and potential and direct the student accordingly? In the age of the Internet, the role of a teacher is reduced to that of a librarian, unless he happens to be good at content development. Rather than being a sage on the stage, he has become a guide on the side. Perhaps then he should be involved in synchronizing the needs of the outside world with the potential of the students and shaping them accordingly. Only then can you avoid the spectacle of a Shekhar Kapoor wasting years in chartered accountancy while he was more suited for movie-making. Or an Amitabh Bachchan who came to know that he wants to be an actor at the age of 26 (he calls it early!) rather than in school or college. KNOWING VERSUS BEING Society gives more attention to the ‘knower’ as borne out by the following perceptions of a leading HRD consultant firm: “At least in India, no one is surprised at children aspiring to become engineers, doctors, CAs or MBAs. Almost 60 per cent think in terms of engineering or medicine and nearly 15 per cent fancy their skills as CAs but in reality, only 10 per cent become what they dream of becoming. Have you ever wondered why children do not want to be artists, dancers, singers, painters or carpenters and plumbers? The reason is not far to seek. These professions have neither ‘class’ nor prestige associated with them. When they actually start working, they realize that they don’t have the mental make-up for a particular type of job in spite of being suitably qualified.” A person must be first respected for what he is if he has to be encouraged to reach his full potential. If society has false notions about different vocations, how can it view people with the right perspective? Philosopher J. Krishnamurti* said that society measures the child in accordance with what it wants him to do for society. “If you dictate the work he should do and mold him for that then you are using and exploiting him. But if you respect him for what he is and help him find his right vocation, you are his friend.” *Krishnamurthy is India’s best intellectual in recent times Osho* said: “Somebody who could have been a painter is a doctor. Somebody who could have been a good doctor is a businessman. Everybody is displaced. Everybody is doing something he never wanted to do. Hence unhappiness. Happiness happens when you fit with your life. When you fit so harmoniously that whatever you are doing is your joy.” In other words, one should choose the work according to what one is and not what one knows. *Osho is a reknowned mystic THE RIGHT SUB-VOCATION That one cannot always afford to be in the right sub-vocation either can be illustrated by several examples. Among writers, Charles Dickens found no success as a playwright despite great effort. Author of innumerable children’s books, Enid Blyton admitted that if she had to write an article she would find it difficult. It is common sense that a potential writer would not succeed at all kinds of writing. It is just like tennis players, some are excellent grass court players but lousy on clay courts. Pete Sampras holds the record for the maximum number of grand slam victories (13) but failed repeatedly at the French Open. Indian cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly do not open in Test matches despite being recognized as a world class opening pair in one-day international cricket. If you see well-established professionals who cannot perform well in the wrong sub-vocation, the problems faced by a layman in choosing his correct vocation become easier to understand. Management writers Tom Peters and Peter Drucker have indicated that corporate life is like a relay race and the founder of a company is not always the best person to carry it forward. Daniel Goleman goes further to state that even a person who turns around a sick company is not the best person to carry it forward after it recovers because a new situation calls for a change in leadership. Instead of the popular MBA, we may be better off with a degree called Master of Business Operations (MBO). This will also help determine who has potential for what kind of business since the needs of each industry are different. APTITUDE VERSUS ATTITUDE There are many books written on how most situations can be overcome by cultivating the right attitude. Motivational teachers harp too much on attitude, which is quite out of proportion to the importance it deserves. It seems to suit people to be told that capability is not the prime determinant and most things, if not everything, can be achieved by simply thinking positively. The importance of aptitude is best summed up by the remark: “Attitude and aptitude both determine altitude.” Or as Edward de Bono puts it: “Intelligence may be an in-born thing, effectiveness is not.” Both Henry Ford and Akio Morita (founder of Sony Electronics) left well-established family businesses to chart their own course and became world famous. It is doubtful that they would have achieved the same level of success in any other profession by just having the right attitude. When aptitude is right, positive attitude comes spontaneously. In determining one’s vocation or career, one should focus on innate potential and common sense rather than on accumulating knowledge. It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense. In this era of the Internet and information technology, it would be fitting if the right knowledge came to the right individual with the active participation of the teacher at an early stage. The situation calls for a process-oriented education instead of an input-oriented one. Blindly stuffing in knowledge is as bad as filling diesel in a petrol tank.

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