Some recent ads that I have been seeing on TV which talk about being “caught in the wrong job” have set me thinking about what a colossal waste of the nation’s time and energy has been happening over the past 60 years because so many of our countrymen have been working in professions not because they like them and therefore have a flair for them but because that is what has been “chosen” for them by someone else.
All of us have a dream of doing something when we are young. I remember when I was young I wanted to be a pilot (which at that time was pretty standard for a 5-8 year old boy !!). As time went by it fluctuated between the prosaic (engineer) to the exotic(film star ). Finally when I entered college I had settled down on the standard career for a Bihari boy in Delhi University in 1990 ie the IAS ! However with the Mandal commission recommendations being unveiled in 1991 the IAS dream moved towards the MBA degree and I landed up doing an MBA in HR from XLRI ! From HR, I moved to recruitment and then went onto set up my own business in 1996.I slowly experimented with what I was doing till I finally landed up starting something in 2000 which I loved ie building an outsourced recruiting organization and my passion had become my profession. A far cry from an initial dream of wanting to fly planes!
Some years ago as I ran a 100 person IT recruiting company and hired people for my own organization my message to people during the interview process and also when they come on board is only one ie What is it that you love doing? I repeatedly ask this question because I sincerely believe that in today’s India a person need to not stifle their dreams just because it does not correspond with someone else’s idea of a career !
Let me explain this some more. As our country grows the demand for “specialization in services and products” will go on increasing. This would be simply because of the fact that as income levels of people increase they become more “sophisticated” as consumers and demand a higher degree of satisfaction and are also willing to pay for it. One only has to see the mushrooming of expensive specialty restaurants and retailers to understand what I am referring to. Therefore as this development happens professions which were otherwise “unknown” will start springing up (my own profession of a recruiter was unknown in India 10 years back !). As this happens it will throw up two types of opportunities for our youth depending upon what is their degree of risk appetite. For the risk friendly becoming entrepreneurs and participating actively in this wave of development with enterprise creation will be an option and for the risk-averse joining an existing enterprise and making your passion your profession will be a reality.
There is a 4 stage process that you can follow to decide your ‘calling’
1. Understand your area of talent or interest ( I would be very surprised if there can be an “enlightened person “ in today’s age who would have neither !)
2. Get an idea of the level of “expertise” required to be successful in that area. This is very important and I write this because a lot of this feel we are good singers/good cricketers/good instrument players without realizing that performing arts (or entertainment/sports) is probably the most competitive of all professions and the glamour and money should not fool us into believing that we can succeed in it just because we won a singing competition in school! This step is extremely important and is probably the one that will differentiate people who will succeed in their chosen area of interest/talent and ones that wont. The thing to remember is that just as I had mentioned earlier on the fact that progress in economy creates a higher degree of specialization in careers it also pushes benchmarks (or raises the bar !) of success. Therefore just because you are talented or have interest in that area you will need to be prepared for a lots of hard work and sometimes sacrifice of “time” in order to succeed (however as I said earlier if you love what you do then you will not look at it as “sacrifice” !!)
3. Immerse yourself in the profession with an idea of learning/doing something new at regular intervals (month/quarter/year) but with the clear understanding that this is what you LOVE doing and therefore it is NOT work. This will enable you to enjoy your job and not experience any stress levels at work. You will also start doing well in your job as you “love” it and therefore it is not a burden on you. In most professions the only thing which separates good performers from ordinary ones is the level of a person’s engagement with the job and as you are doing something you love your level of engagement with the job will naturally be high causing you to succeed .
4. Pursue the profession till you are “hungry” for ideas/execution .If the desire to push ahead ONLY comes from money (which a majority of the people in the world have) you are no longer in the privileged “few” who love what they do but have moved to the majority “many” who work to “earn” a living. This is also important as you have to remember that life is NEVER a constant and with age and experience your perceptions/interest and even talents undergo a change. Therefore settling on your profession based on what you were good at when you were 25-30 may not hold good when you are 40-45.
I will end this piece by saying that none of what I have written above is theoretical .In fact I am a strong believer in its practical applicability (being a living proof of this dictum!) provided one has a small degree of self –awareness during the 20s. I feel that apart from greatly enhancing the personal “happiness” quotient, making your passion your profession contributes at a macro scale to nation building and moving society towards higher degree of excellence. Remember if you can find a job that you love you wont have to “work” for a single day of your life!