This is my first blog and I want to share some very crucial lessons that I picked up during my growing up years about choosing the right careers after 10th, 12th, graduation or whichever stage one might be in. I feel bemused when I see some very smart youth; across the world getting perfunctory when it comes to the most important decision of ‘How to smartly choose a career’ that’s befitting and makes them happy too.
Career choices usually end up getting based on one / some of the reasons as: marks in 10th / 12th boards, parent’s choices, friend’s choices, special friend’s recommendation, general flavor of the season (e.g.MBA in the last 15 years), and more money in a particular career. I am not saying that these are wrong. These would turn out to be perfect; if they take into account a few more logical premises. (Blogpost: Choose who you take Advice from Very Carefully)
The world has changed more in the last few years; than how much it changed in 2 decades before that. Never was making the right career easier; than it is in today’s time. Not only are the options available in galore; but also the ease of knowing about those options is lying simplified with search engines. Add to this nuclear families & ‘easy finance schemes’; if you still are making a mistake of making a wrong career – then the onus has to be entirely yours. I guess; one is bounded by his/ her own initiative to be or not to be; where one wants to be.
During my corporate training programs as a Motivational Speaker; I meet many smart youngsters (MBAs from top B-Schools in India/ Abroad); who come and confess secretly– ‘Akash! I worked so hard to be here; but now I realize- this is just not what I wanted’. I feel sad about this and the age old principle of career choosing gets re-affirmed in my mind- ‘there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently; which should not be done at all’. Most youth thinks that getting through a good Engineering college / B-School etc. is the passport to a great career. It is – when you make the right choices: 1) before joining, 2) during studying and 3) after you pass out from these places.
Imagine if Sachin Tendulkar had cleared his Medical Entrance exam and had become a doctor. Imagine if Shah Rukh Khan had joined an advt. agency after his masters in Mass Comm. (I vouch; he would still be doing plays/ drama on weekends during his company parties and impressing some fewer than hundred ladies). The world would have never got to listen to the internal music of many such people as Sachin & SRK. I see lakhs of people progressing; but I see most trapped. Engineers from good colleges not enjoying doing coding, Doctors wishing to get into management after years of studying medicine are common stories these days.
Is there a better way of doing things? Aren’t we going wrong in answering the question “How to Smartly Choose a Career”? Movies as ‘Three Idiots’ did delineate the right philosophy of choosing the right career based on interest alone; but because of it being a movie (alone)- it could not harp on other very important aspects; which one should consider while taking important career decisions.
I have tried to help many a people in the last decade with career advice and ensure they make wiser choices. My own journey; if I look back is replete with lessons in retrospect. I come from a family of doctors which living out of a small hill town wanted me to become a doctor (I thank God for lessening the planet earth with at least one unhappy doctor). I wanted to join the Indian Air Force (emotional reasons- because my name is Akash & I don’t remember, from where I got to believe then, that women love Air Force Pilots more than doctors). I got rejected in the medical part of the NDA-NA exam because of some vision deficiency. I felt dejected.
I went on to do my PG in Fashion from Asia’s number 1, Fashion School – NIFT, New Delhi. After clearing the entrance exam; when I joined NIFT, the only thing I knew about fashion was FTV. I was a bad student out there. There was no aptitude, improper attitude and just not befitting personality for the subjects that I was exposed to there. There was only one thing-‘Majboori’ – because I had paid the fee and I had told all my relatives and friends that I belong to an ivy league Fashion College. Never could dare think of reneging my decision. I dragged the time out there. NIFT Delhi’s brand equity was very high then and it got me a good campus job. I was thrown out of my first two jobs by employers for the following reasons respectively:- 1) Incompetence at workplace and 2) Demotivating colleagues about work. I did not ‘smartly choose a career’ for myself.
Closely seeing the careers of many; I have found that it is easy to smartly choose a career if one takes into account the following two aspects:-
1) Your hidden Music
2) The right instrument for that music.
Your ‘Music’ is something which you are very good at. It is your deepest craving to do that particular thing ahead of many others. Your ‘Music’ is something which connects all the dots of your growing up years. It is something which is deep. Your ‘Music’ is what you wish to express to the world and your ‘instrument’ is ‘how you express’.
Most people base their career decisions on just the other part -‘Instrument’. Saying that I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, an MBA, an IAS is calling the names of the ‘instruments’. This is wrong, as the instrument is merely the outer shell. Wrong music playing on the right instrument or your own music playing on a wrong choice of an instrument will lead to only noise. This is the root cause of all our career anxieties.
Let me explain the Music and Instrument concept with two examples. It is critical for you to understand this point. My three classmates from class 10th – Rohit, Saaket & Vibha (names changed) went onto become doctors. They became three different kind of doctors and this explains the concept of ‘Music’ and ‘instruments’ clearly well. Rohit was sent to the medical school on capitation/ donation by his family of doctors; because they desperately wanted him to be a doctor only and take care of their huge investments that they had made in their hospital. He specialized in the same field- orthopedics; in which his father had specialized in. Nothing wrong. He is earning a lot of money for himself and his family and he is doing well too. Saaket did his MBBS from the premier most institute-AIIMS, New Delhi. He was getting ‘Surgery’ as a choice of subject of study in his PG; but he choose to pursue his MD in Pathology- an area of deep interest and curiosity for him. Surgery is a cash rich field and all of us were surprised at his decision. He had put his interest in research ahead of everything else. Vibha since her school days had a deep faith in God. I still remember her chanting ‘AUM’ in the school bus. After her MBBS, because of her merit in the PG test, she was getting an opportunity to do her PG in Gynae-Obstetrics – a field- which is a choicest & very logical for a lady to specialize in. She went on to do her PG from USA in her deep most subjects of interest- ‘Regression therapy, Souls, Does God exist etc.’
Three doctors – all have the same instrument- ‘DOCTOR’. But all three have different ‘MUSIC’ playing on their instruments. The point is – you could use the same ‘INSTRUMENT’ to play your own, very different music. Your instruments may keep on changing with time; but your music will be something which will not change much. To have a really satisfying career; you must play on a befitting INSTRUMENT for your MUSIC. (12 TED talks that will change the way you think about your career)
Let me go back to my story. I find myself to be a creative and high energy person. People since my growing up years used to tell my parents & me about this. Living in a small town – I took a wrong decision of juxtaposing my creative ‘MUSIC’ against a wrong ‘INSTRUMENT’ – Fashion. It had to misfire. My MUSIC was right; but my INSTRUMENT was wrong. Both need to complement each other. A decade back- I decided to get into Power speaking/ Training and Motivating.
One reason- why I enjoy/ love my work is because now – my MUSIC has found the appropriate INSTRUMENT. I am using my creativity to get expressed in the most befitting way- ‘Training’. This is just the key for the lock of my music. Money, fame and other things now look/ become incidental. In between, I had this brain wave to go back to my hometown and start a tourist unit out there. I did this crazy thing of starting a Discotheque at a place of tourist interest of foreigners. I ran a discotheque along with my ‘Motivational Seminars and Corporate Training’ but soon realized that in spite of lots of money out there in the Disco business – all I wanted to do was to have a linear focus on ‘what is an extension of my personality- ‘Training”. My brother handles the Discotheque now. He is doing well – because he found his music in sync with the instrument called ‘running a discotheque’.
To find the appropriate INSTRUMENT for your MUSIC is an ever happening process of the evolution of understanding life and self. As you will expose yourself more to the world- you will begin to hear your hidden MUSIC and then gradually also be able to identify the best INSTRUMENT for the same. As you keep on finding what is the most pertinent for you – you will keep on making congruent choices.
I recommend a very smart approach for identifying your INSTRUMENT. I call this approach- POE. It is Process of Elimination of Options. It says- ‘I do not know what my right INSTRUMENT is; all I know is that – X or Y or Z is not my INSTRUMENT’. Soon you will be left with the most cogent one. Then you party- because life becomes a party when your workplace drives your adrenaline. The irony is that most people around us are too compromised about their securities as salaries, rental incomes, business profits etc. Here are all my blogposts on training and choosing the right careers: Blogposts on Building a Career.
They are like dead bodies and don’t we see so many dead bodies around. As I look back; I feel glad about the decent effort and consciousness that I put in to smartly choose a career and create authenticity around it for myself. Here, I feel abundance, joyfulness and most importantly -‘value unlocking’ happening. There is more purposefulness instead of sheer busyness. Had I carried on with the fashion industry or the discotheque – I would have ended up creating / digging a deeper hole for myself because of my soulless work. Do not compromise by choosing to carry on a cowardly career. Let the security of a salary / money flow not delude you. Do not deceive your heart. No price tag should be able to buy it out. It will be a hopeless deal. (Videos that might help you find your purpose)
While taking career decisions; do not try to feel/ behave in a perfect way. Take the decision and enforce it into actions. If it comes out to be wrong you’ll realize it soon enough. Remember: Confusion is the beginning of Clarity.
Ab toh ghabra ke ye kehte hain ki mar jayenge
Marr ke bhi chain na paaya toh kidhar jayenge
A lot of us want to become famous- very quickly. As a career counsellor for students in India, I can say for sure that if you do become famous (because there are many instant ways of becoming one these days e.g. IITs, IIMs) ; then your remaining famous will be very short-lived; if the reasons for your becoming famous are not because of ‘your MUSIC and INSTRUMENT’ being in sync. However, if they are in sync- the image that you are trying to create will be there to stay.
Only you are responsible for ‘what you make out of your life/ career’. Your current situation is a result of some decisions that you took in the preceding few years. The decisions were yours. If you are not happy with the present situation- change it. You need to make / take some more bold decisions. No one is stopping you from making different and newer choices. Think about this- maybe only you are trapping the self. You may choose to grow or choose to just vegetate in a cage.
Few years back, I decided that I will live for my highest values, my goals, my decisions. I realized that my career needs to be the main outlet for my ‘self expression’ and more importantly -‘contribution’. If your current career dishonors the fact that -you are not making a contribution towards things around and all that you are doing is for self alone- you are likely to feel immensely dissatisfied.
Try and refuse any career decision that will make you treat / classify people around as sheer transactions / money instruments / business prospects or impediments instead of simple human beings. Mercenary decisions will never last. Reject all work that lessens the human quotient about you or anyone else. Nothing substitutes pure happiness. The best that happens when you follow your heart is that, money would not elude you for long; even if it does initially. Since the work that you will do; when you follow your heart- generates value for yourself and others – money becoming concomitant becomes a natural trail. It is so much important to take some real, solid career decisions which flow from your heart.
Do not delay getting off the road which doesn’t go through your heart. The early you do, the better become your chances to make mistakes early and rise from them early too. A lot of people in your life- your family, your girl/ boyfriend, relatives might find you crazy. But something very beautifully strange will happen soon. Once they start seeing you making the mark- the same people will begin to seek your advice on ‘how to do, what you did’. They say in hindi- ‘Chadtey sooraj ko salaam’.
It might just so happen that the next few choices that you make may end up as the not the most intelligent ones. The trick is to not to feel low; even if a few misfire. Identifying your ideal career takes time and it certainly takes a few mistakes. Keep on making intelligent, informed & heart centric decisions and sooner or later; you will be there.
And start early. The more you ponder about “how to choose the right career after 10th’ or ‘how to choose the right career after 12th’, fewer will be the number of mistakes you might make. During my college days- I knew that my heart was in ‘Training people for becoming better in their lives’. I never could dare then. Took me some 3 serious career curves to get to doing what I am enjoying doing today. Ask yourself- what is it that shakes your soul, scares you, challenges you, you secretly dream about. This will be the real road; that will genuinely honor you in life.
If your workplace doesn’t excite you, doesn’t make you feel like getting up early and going there and making exciting changes out there, doesn’t sometimes make you get up in the middle of the night with an exciting idea about changing things – trust me – you are playing the game of your life too safely and cowardly.
‘Risk to Spiderman ko bhi lenaa padtaa hai’
Some risks will; go wrong. Some will fall right definitely. If you take heart centric risks- the value derivation from the risks that fall right will much surpass the loss that gets done from those risks which did not fructify. The risk reward ratio over a longer period will definitely favor you. The more you risk, the more you win; goes an old saying.
One reason; why I believe the above saying is 100% correct is that- whenever you will loose after taking any risk- there shall be a lesson that will come along. The lessons when compounded will enable you to make better decisions the next time. The base effect will be stronger. I see most people giving up after the first few failures. They do not realize that by being tenacious in spite of failing they are bound to be successful because of the lessons that they will learn from making those mistakes.
A lot of software / dot coms which started in late 90s and early 2000s closed down, because they failed to carry on. Most people purchase ‘Treadmills / running machines’; with the honest intention to stay fit. They do run for a few days also. After that, the same machine gets utilized to dry their underwear on a rainy day outside. They just fail to carry on. When you remain tenacious; when you take good decisions again and again; you will obviously figure out the success formulae for a career that suits you. So, it is critical to develop a good tolerance quotient for setbacks.
Let money not be the biggest suction point while taking career decisions. If it were to be you’ll end up playing a lot of dumb games. Let the real thing be- satisfaction & fulfillment. Let the driving reasons be quality work, a good workplace which makes you better in terms of your skills & contributions – every passing day. Money has to come- the way a mother-in-law comes in the package deal, when you decide to get married. But you do not get married for mother-in-law. Do you?
‘What you have is all God’s gift to you. What you do with what you have, is your gift to him’.
– Swami Chinmayananda.
One Life only! Rise & Shine