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.

Advertisements

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. ”

_______________

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””

————————————————————————————— 

(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/


The Students “Aspire”, should the rest perspire ?

February 24, 2006

India today magazine  has come out with a new magazine called Aspire with the purpose of guiding students in their choice of careers. It is a much needed handsome initiative. I had already subscribed to the main magazine for 10 years a few years ago and have not been disappointed. What was disappointing however was their attitude when I met a young lady at India today’s editorial office who informed me quite curtly that India today does not accept articles from outsiders. I found that attitude a little out of synch with today’s world if not a little snobbish.

Today , we are in the era of interactive media. Television is pulling out all stops to make TV more interactive than ever before. In more and more programs, priority is given to audience preferences because nobody can be absolutely sure what the audience will accept or reject.. Even well established film producers concede the fact. That apart, I feel that a magazine can be enriched by the real life experiences of people which can also enable other people to learn.

Coming to the main point now. Its all right to guide the students but what about the people who are trapped in the wrong jobs?. I read an American article recently which stated that a survey indicated that as many as 87% people hated their daily jobs. The incidence of heart attacks too wason Monday mornings. I have heard this 80% bit several times i.e 80% of the people are stuck in the wrong jobs and stuff like that. Considering the fact that work occupies most of our waking hours, if 80 percent of the people are miserable 80 percent of the time, isn’t that life a kind of mental Aids or mental Cancer? What kind of life is this? Should they rot for the rest of their lives because they made a wrong decision once ?

In the book “Karma, Destiny and Career” , author Jenette Hucknall  states that some people in the United States have to go back to school after they choose a wrong career. Except for high-tech issues like surgery or piloting, I feel that that is an impractical solution. The author explains in detail how much family and friends suffer because of this shifting of careers and how much adjustment it entails on behalf of the individual and his family. Would not quick, short term courses be a more practical solution. If somebody has the talent for something, he or she requires only fine tuning and not blind thrusting of knowledge.

The problem is that what you are really suited for is determined only after actually attempting different kinds of work in the practical world. To some lucky people, it can be at first attempt. Otherwise even a lifetime is not enough. No wonder Thomas Carlyle said “ The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness” .

If the real life stories of such people were told in detail, the students would understand the implications of choosing a wrong career. I have stated earlier that despite reading in Dale Carnegie’s books in which sufficient warning was given, I still went the wrong way because of strong pre conceived notions about money and qualifications and suffered profusely. What is needed is depth understanding (the deeper the water, the calmer the surface, still waters run deep etc) and that can be provided only by real life stories.

That apart, in the last three years, I have come across so many websites and books written by Americans(displayed on the links on the right) that I wonder how grave the situation in India must be with its huge population. Some American experts have conceded that it can sometimes take years to determine what exactly you are suited for by going through various parameters such as hobbies, social work preferences, work ambience etc etc and not qualifications or knowledge alone.

The only really good  Indian book I have come across on the subject is by former billiards World champion Geet Sethi’s “Success v/s Joy” . It is a wonderful book, a fact conceded by no less than Superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

A day after I wrote this, I came across this interesting article in the times of India http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1430394.cms


Schizophrenic existence in the prime of life?

December 25, 2005

Hindustan times publication “Brunch” December 18,2005. has come out with an interesting article, “Life of passage” on people who were trapped in the wrong jobs and living a dual existence. Some excerpts:-

Writers from professions you wouldn’t think of having the literary urge.Doctors, lawyers physicists , bankers are joining the field of Indian writers. Writing in English has found an expressive “coming out”.:-

A doctor who has attended gunshot wounds in rural parts is now writing a love story about a health worker coming to terms with the unitedness of her and her profession.

The full time writer is a rare breed anywhere”, says Sashi Tharoor,who works for the united nations and is author of the acclaimed “The great Indian Novel” .

Mumbai based Armin Wandrewala author of The Turning and a lawyer by training says“ Its not so much an inner need to be a writer as an inner need to write”

A software engineer told me he couldn’t bear the life he was leading. He spent a lot of time with that pain himself and his fiction came out of that.

Balaji Venkateswaran who debuted with the Novel, “Rage” studied Technology because of peer pressure, “Unfortunately it was never out of interest or love,” he admits. Lately, he has become increasingly reconciled to the Schizophrenic and sometimes varying co-existence of his life as a technologist and his life as a writer

A surgeon, Kavery Nambian, author of The hills at Angori “ My profession offers me endless opportunities for rich emotional experiences which I have used in my writing.

Rajiv Dogra a Diplomat has written the heartburns and difficulties for diplomats than most people realize

This is not a part of the article but since we are discussing writers, . The great Indian actor Balraj Sahni who was a businessman’ son was a career dabbler- his father’s business, a printing press, Sevagram with Gandhiji, Shantiniketan with Rabindranath Tagore, London as a Radio broadcaster , Actor in the Hindi film Industry and when still unfulfilled, he went to his native Punjab to write in Punjabi.

It would not be out of place to mention here that former Lintas Chairman, Mr Alyque Padamsee has written a novel “ A double life” where he explains how Advertisements financed his real passion, which was theatre.

Some famous writers-Horis-karl Huysmans, Henry Miller , Herman Melville, Sir Arthur Conann Doyle, Anthony Trollope ,Anton Chekov , Somerset Maugham all lived dual lives.


Should any young person end up like this?

October 20, 2005

Consider this information

In 1923, nine of the world’s richest men met to discuss economy. They were among the richest men in the world. They were:-

Charles Schwab- President of the largest Steel company
Sameul Insull- President of the largest electric utility company
Howard Hopson- President, largest gas company
Arthur Cutten- Greatest wheat speculator
Richard whitney- President, New york stock exchange
Albert Fall- Secretary of Interior in President Harding’s Cabinet.
Jesse Livermore, the greatest “bear” on the Wall street
Ivan Krueger, head of the world’s greatest monopoly.
Leon Fraser, President of the Bank of international settlements.

After 25 years in 1948, the situation was as follows:-

Charles Schwab was bankrupt and lived the last few years on borrowed money.
Samuel Insull died abroad as a penniless fugitive.
Howard Hopson was insane.
Arthur Cutten became insolvent and died abroad
Richard Whitney had been imprisoned
Albert Fall was pardoned from prison and died broke and penniless.
Jesse Livermore had committed suicide.
Ivar Krueger killed himself
Leon Fraser committed suicide.

Being in the wrong occupation has been described differently by different people- job prisoners,spiritual suicide, lifetime imprisonment etc ( See links “Quotes” and ” Job prison”)

One wondeers how so many prominent men ended that way but one can at least try and manage what is in one’s control- try to be in the right occupation because if the majority of waking hours spent at the work place lack joy and satisfaction, the expereince is as sordid as the deaths above. As Napolean said ” It is more difficult to suffer than to die”