Beware-Right occupation does not guarantee commercial success.

February 2, 2008

The objective of this Blog was to create an awareness of the significance of hobbies or interest or passion in one’s life. Two of the best quotes that I have come across in this context and mentioned in my articles- a hobby is more a measure of a man than his profession is and the luckiest man is the person whose hobby and profession are the same. We take hobbies to be a sort of side- activity but in many cases it turns out to be the main acitivity. When I did my management diploma course in August 1991, we were taught self actualization according to which after the basic needs of food, shelter, cothing one aspired for social affiliation and security and self actualization which implied achieving one’s potential and getting recognition for the same. The way it turned out to be in real life at least for me was drastically different from what was taught to us. When I pointed this out to one of the professors who had taught me, he got back to me after one month and requested me to address the students in their newsletter which is represented in the blog by the article “ Guidance to Management students”

All hobbies cannot become professions is an obvious fact for the simple reason that all acitivites do not pay well. The best example which I have mentioned in one of my published articles is that of an American Entreupreneur, who, when asked how he had the guts to leave a six figure salary simply replied “such decisions can only be made if the personal profile, the business profile, and the market profile match”. Not to give importance to money would be equally foolish and unnaturally idealistic.
For most people, emotional fulfillment alongwith financial security can only be a long term objective.

Some people may be lucky to find their vocation at a young age- it may or may not be paying. If it is paying, that would be doubly lucky.

Some people may not be extreme misfits and therefore may not mind being in the wrong occupation if it pays well.

Some people may not give too much importance to job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.- Some housewives for instance who believe in giving equal or more emphasis to their family.

Some people may lead a double life and follow both profession and hobby as former Lintas Chairman, Mr Alyque Padamsee.

Some people may have to rot in the wrong profession throughout life in which case apart from Yoga, they should do Zen meditation and read my article on Making the best of a bad career situation- http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2178426.cms
Even if you are able to follow your paying passion at an early age, nobody can guarantee commercial success which is why one should also plan for an alternative career. The objective of this blog is mearly to create awareness of the significance of this problem and not to undermine formal education.


Ta Ra Rum pum- Taxi Drivers and Dreams

May 18, 2007

In the context of choosing one’s career it is often said “Choose your career not on the basis of what you know but who you are” . Motivation speakers often exhort to “Follow your heart/dream”. I read in a book how artists live a lifetime of penury , actors take rejection after rejection, animal lovers put up with apalling work conditions- all for the love of their professions

In that context, in the movie Ta Ra Rum Pum, actor Javed Jaffrey mentions in the beginning how people follow their heart, their dreams but when they get broken, they become taxi-drivers to support themselves (in New York as mentioned in the movie). The lead actor, Saif Ali Khan when reduced to penury from being a car racer also has to turn to the taxi to support himself.

This reminded me of an article that appeared in the Times of India two three years ago which stated how a child psychologist whose passion was driving, actually turned to the taxi to support his dream instead of the broken dream as stated in the movie. It sounds quite unbelievable but is true:-

“Driven by Passion” by lov Verma

“Kenny was his name. A genial six footer, African American. He was invariably dressed in a black overcoat and a black and white patterned muffler. A rich and resonant southern drawl which could give the Big B a run for his money, completed the picture. He looked like a kindly college professor but I was in for a shock when he introduced himself. “Hi! I am your driver around Washington DC” he grinned. His eyes twinkled, “I shall be your friend, philosopher and guide”.

Unwittingly, Kenny was of great help to me one evening. The wife with a knowing gleam in her eye, suggested a shopping expedition. This was going to burn a nice deep hole in the pocket. In the interest of marital peace, I put on a brave face and summoned Kenny. The man , blessed his soul, drove us down to the true value chain of shops, owned and managed by –you guessed it- blacks. The prices suited my pocket and I came away beaming. The wife, meanwhile is still wondering why people rave about Washington’s shopping malls.

It took an ankle sprain for me to get to know Kenny more intimately. While my friends hit the Washington Museum trail, I hobbled back to the car where Kenny was snoring. He awoke soon enough and seemed ready to chat. “Tell me something about your life ,Kenny”, I urged.

Well, he responded,” You may find it somewhat difficult to believe but I was a professor of child psychology for ten years, then I got kind of bored with it. So I thought “Why not give my childhood passion, driving, a try and now here I am, doing what I love, for the last fifteen years.”

I gaped “ Was it not a huge climb-down in terms of status and all?”

“Of, course it was, “Kenny grinned. “Lots of raised eyebrows but I have always felt that one must do what one must do, what one enjoys and believes in. The world can go to blazes for all I care. “

By the time Kenny drove us to New York and finally left, I could not but reflect that he had taught me some great lessons about life. ”

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I personally feel that the lesson learnt is that no work is superior or inferior but it is the spirit with which you carry it out that matters. There is a saying “It is a man who dignifies a job and not a job that dignifies a man” which is amply proved by the story. It reminded me of a chance meeting with a bus conductor in my conducted tour on my trip to Singapore last year. He was speaking very good English and his presentation was too good to be true. I was prompted to query his background. He replied that he was a retired bureaucrat but did the job because he liked it and was proud to be from Singapore.

Since the writer has referred to the Big B or our super dignified superstar, Mr Amitabh Bachchan who himself left the corporate world to pursue his passion, acting the result is there for all to see. In an interview he mentioned the secret of his success” I was able to decide correctly early in life that I wanted to become an actor. I have come across several people in my life who do not know what to do with themselves”. Everybody cannot be a mega success like him but being able to spend a majority of your waking hours in the right occupation is a dream by itself:-

“The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness”- Thomas Carlyle.


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.


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/


Even Mahatma Gandhi believed in it

February 6, 2006

These are some excerpts from Gandhi’s Autobiography “The story of my experiments with truth”:-

“Finally, it is better that one do

His own task as he may, even though he fail

Then take tasks not his own, though they seem good

To die performing duty is no ill

But who seeks other roads shall wander still”

“My aptitude for nursing gradually developed into a passion, so much so that it often led me to neglect my work and on occasions I engaged not only my wife but the whole household in such service. Such service has no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it it done for show or fear of public opinion, it turns the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant not the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.”

In the context of the Zulu war in South Africa, Gandhi ” At any rate my heart was with the Zulus, and I was delighted on reaching headquarters, to hear that our main work was to be on the nursing of the wounded Zulus”

At the kumbh mela in Hardwar, when Gandhi was not left alone by the people even during meals and baths, he concluded.  “Thus it was in Hardwar that I realized what a deep impression my services in South Africa had made throughout the whole of India.”

It can be concluded from all this that it was his passion for nursing and public service that queered the pitch for his being the Mahatma. Even fifty years after India’s independence, there has not been an encore because some of the powers that be have made politics a profession and put the cart before the horse.