Category Archives: Career

Career Motivation

Midway through the journey

For most of us, adult life begins with following what everyone else is doing. We trudge on along the beaten path, hoping to find our happiness somewhere on the way. But, with time, many realize that their calling lies in a different direction. Often this realization seems to lead us away from the masses and towards an unbeaten path. The uncertainty and possible perils of such a journey induce intimidation and fear in most. Most will never dare on this path.

There may have been times when you broke out of your comfortable shell and took on this unbeaten path. You saw a light in the distance and felt attracted to it. There probably was some hesitation, you were scared. But your determination and curiosity were greater. You drew a deep breath, summoned all your courage and broke out of the herd, all alone.

The path was long. You made plans, you followed them diligently, you became a daring adventurer. The new direction aligned with your heart and the journey gave you a sense of freedom. You felt alive!

You probably haven’t reached the light yet. The journey is still on. The initial enthusiasm has probably come down slowly. You enjoy the journey none the less and accept the reality of it. The uncertainty of this journey doesn’t scare you, you have made peace with it and accept it as a part of the trade.

But ever so often, you find yourself on the cross roads again. Doubts start creeping up. You come to a place where you are not sure which way to go. You feel unsure whether it was a wise decision to have come on this path, you are not sure which of the multiple direction that you see here you should follow. Maybe the light that seemed so clearly in the beginning has become a little hazy, maybe it has become a little less attractive.

Should you just turn back and try to find your way back to the direction of the crowd? On one hand, you enjoy adventure, you feel that you can not enjoy the drudgery of following the masses. You do not want to go back to something you don’t like and accept defeat in the process. On the other hand, you are not sure whether you want to keep moving forward.

Should you accept defeat? Or should you carry on?….

Ego self

First and foremost, I think the question above is the voice of the ego self. Your ego holds itself higher than others(because of the courage you had shown earlier) and does not want to ‘fall’ back to their level. Also, it is afraid of what will happen on the current lonely path. It is scared of staying without control, of not knowing what to do next. It is scared that the heart will lead you to doom.

Doubts and growth

The path of the heart is not a one way ticket to doom. It has scary moments, when you become clueless or when you fail in a grand way. You start doubting your heart when it leads you to confusion. But confusion is not bad. These recurring moments, when you are unsure of yourself and your life, are moments of learning and growth. You probably have better questions now than the last time you were in doubt. You may not have reached your dream goal but you have improved, you have learned and you have grown. There are more steps to go. You will get there in time.

If you focus solely on being in control, on finding answers, you may loose the lessons. Being humble, open and receptive will help you in assimilating new lessons and insights. Be ready to be surprised pleasantly by the new avenues that come up. It is sometimes in these moments of loosing control, in these moments when the intellect starts shutting down, that quantum leaps in growth happen. You may witness a sudden rise in your sinking enthusiasm levels, you may find new meanings in life.

Less money on this path?

Some fear their heart will always lead them to lesser money. The heart only leads you to that which you truly enjoy, and that may mean taking on lesser paying jobs for some(not for all). But think about it, it is happiness that you ultimately want. If you are getting it with lesser money, why would you want more? In fact, more money than is necessary can cause a lot of unhappiness, since you will be worried about handling it properly.

Of course, if it is expensive things that you find happiness in, your heart will lead you to it.

In any case, it will make sure you take care of your basic needs, it will take care that you do not starve or do not loose true and close friends.

What your heart might make you loose is doing things to just comply with social norms, trying to appease others, to fit in. It will take you to what you, as your unique self, will most enjoy your life with.

Aliveness and the heart

In a sense, moments of doubt are also moments that make you feel more alive than ever. If you just allow them, these moments often lead to such crystal clarity that you again start working with passion and enthusiasm. That is something a lot of people would give anything for, for they have lived safe lives that have now become meaningless and directionless. They can not, for the life of them, realize what’s wrong? Why do they not feel enthusiastic about their lives when they have all the comforts and securities one could ask for? They crave for the enthusiasm you have gained by braving your doubts.

Urge to quickly define things

When in doubt, you may have a strong urge to reason things out in your mind. You may find a solution with all this thinking, or, as often happens, you may find that no solution is forthcoming, no matter how much you push your intellect.

This overpowering urge to be in complete control, to have all the answers often makes us want to jump to conclusions, especially when they are about ourselves. We try to quickly define, name and label ourselves and our situation, and find security in these explanations.

Unfortunately, trying to define things does more harm than good. We are looking for the truths of our life. But the thing is, truth and reality are fluid, they are constantly changing. If we give ourselves a definition(I am good at such and such, this or that is not my cup of tea), we instantly limit ourselves. Also, these definitions are usually very extreme as they are inspired by our fears.

Uncertainty is the way of life, especially on the path of our heart. Seeking security and complete control won’t help here, what may help is faith…

Faith and hanging on

Above and beyond confusion, when your mind is totally clouded and intellect seems to be failing in providing an answer, what matters is your faith. What matters is carrying on with a deep connection to yourself such that you neither beat yourself up and try too hard for an answer, nor leave the effort completely. You sort of hang on. You have no idea absolutely of what is best now. But you hang on with faith and you stay connected to your Inner Self. You hang on with alertness and full awareness, ready for the solution to show up.

And when the solution shows up, you follow it, whether it takes you in the same direction, a new one, or leads you back to where you came from, the masses.

Until next time…

Image: anankkml

Career

Managing individual and collective goals

I often say that we are social animals and need to connect and work with others to feel fulfilled. We have an inherent drive to communicate, to connect, to work and to share with others, to offer something of value, to make a positive contribution to society. This probably explains why solitary confinement has been used as one of the worst forms of punishment.

Societies and organizations are necessary to help us live together and work together towards common goals

But, we also have our own, individual goals that we privately aspire for. When individual goals diverge and come into conflict with those of the organization, a lot of friction is created.

The big challenge that we as individuals, and every society or organization as a whole faces, is how to conciliate these disparate goals. How to respect both. How to let both flourish and be attended to properly.

What causes these differences?

I think, this difference in goals happens largely because most goals, both individual and collective, are formed out of fear and greed.

So many people do certain jobs because they are considered ‘safe’ or because ‘they earn well’. These people are looking for their own safety and comfort, and have only selfish and self centered goals. They have little time or inclination to think of the collective. They will come into conflict with other people of their type(who are pursuing their own selfish goals) and also with those who are genuinely enthusiastic about their work(since enthusiastic people will also be working towards collective benefit, apart from their own goals).

Over time, such people will increasingly develop a feeling of meaninglessness and bitterness for their work, since they never really enjoyed it or had an aptitude for it. Such unenthusiastic and bitter employees are as much a problem for organizations as they are for themselves.

Similarly, when organizations create their work culture based on fear and greed, a lot of friction is generated. When organizations believe that employees can not be self motivated and need to be constantly pushed, friction is created. When they believe the only way for the organization to work well is by recruiting and retaining as many ‘obedient'(read scared) employees as possible and getting them to act like robots, just following organization made rules and structures, friction is created. When the leaders themselves are driven by fear and greed, rather than an enthusiasm for what they are doing, friction in goals is created.

I am sure there are individuals and organizations that strive seriously towards creating a positive work relationship. For those who haven’t done so, these differences can be overcome by cultivating the right attitude individually and cultivating the right culture at an organization level.

Here is what I think can be help.

At the individual level

An individual’s task is to connect with his/her Inner Voice. See where it wants to lead them. For this, one needs to let go of fear and greed, and allow their hearts to help them find their purpose. Then they need to see which groups and organizations will help them towards it.

When a person does what he/she feels enthusiastic about, the urge to connect and work with others comes to the fore. There is more of a craving to share and enjoy, than to hoard and safe guard.

At the organization level

An organization starts with certain goals. Some people come together with a shared vision and start it. To stay on track, it is imperative that they choose the right people to join them and work with them.

Having said that, human beings are too complex to be just expected to act according to what one anticipates of them. People have their own goals and aspirations. they also have their own growth curves. So, the organization can do its best with recruitment, but, once the member are recruited, it has to be ready to try new directions based on how the collective culture develops. Of course you started it. But once others join in, you cannot expect them to forever work and think the same way you want them, you cannot expect them to have the same goals and aspirations as you have.

An example that comes to mind is that of Steve Jobs, who had to leave the very company that he started because the vision of the majority of board members diverged from his own vision. But he did well once he left. If you listen to what he says of the incident during his famous Stanford address, he has only positive things to say. It brought him back closer to his heart. Once he let go, all the energies that were being spent in holding on, became available for doing things he loved doing. He did well again and found more fulfillment. The fact that he later joined back Apple is of little importance to me. The big thing was letting go, following his heart and finding his happiness back.

What matters most, I think, is connection. Deep understanding and connection with the members. Treating them as thinking, aspiring, respectable human beings. What works is not only trying to make them learn and understand, but also being ready to learn from them. Not only changing but allowing yourself to be changed too.

It will a unique mix of holding on and letting go that only your heart can best lead you on.

Motivation

A lot of organizations start with the premise that they have to hold back their employees at any cost. For motivation, they make use of scaring them(market is bad, jobs outside are not secure), addressing their greed(foreign assignment, raised salary, better titles). But I say, it is better to let go of this idea and just focus on understanding what individual employees will be most happy with, what will best align with their purpose, and edging them on towards that. If this means letting go of certain employees, so be it. Instead of seeing this as some loss, I see this as a win-win situation.

When you try to hold on to your employees and dictate how they act according to your own vision and goals, you create a negative environment for your self to manage. People are not happy, unenthusiastic and not focused on growth and learning. You create a situation where you have to keep making lots of efforts to make even the smallest things happen. You have to continuously prod, scare, satisfy greed etc to make things work.

On the other hand, if you let go of the urge to control and collaborate with your people a win win situation is created. Though some people might leave, the ones remaining will be the ones who are enthusiastic about their work. And when groups consist of enthusiastic, self motivated employees, magic is created, miracles are performed. They don’t need to be prodded, they work on their own. They themselves will take on responsibility and perform beyond expectations. They will pull in others like themselves too.

The ones who leave will be thankful to your for edging them in the right direction. They will see the honesty in your efforts and will push others, who might fit in your organization, to you.

Motivating by example

Motivation seems to happen best by example. When the manager is happy and enthusistic about his work, he, without saying a word, motivates all around him to be the same. People take on the good vibes by themselves.

Believe in their own power to change their life, to do miracles. You act just like a friend, raising good questions, maybe making them face the uncomfortable questions they are avoiding and that are holding them back, maybe giving them a friendly shove in a good direction that they have been ignoring.

When you treat employees as people who can think well, who are honest, sincere, capable, it is reflected in their work. When you make space for them to work on what excites them, and then let them do it without much fuss, you will find them doing it sincerely and better than anything they had done before. They won’t require constant monitoring.

Image: jscreationzs

Career Motivation Personal Growth

The enemies of success and happiness

Often in my conversations with others and in my own experience, I have seen that we are held back from happiness and success for mostly the same reasons. There are some recognizable traits, attitudes and habits that you see in every unhappy and unsuccessful person.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of the same issues I have seen play out, earlier in my life, and then in so many others. I could not help write a post on them. So, here we go.

 

Guilt

Everyone suffers from self hatred and guilt. -Louise L. Hay

Most of us have our own unique desires and dreams. Most of us also feel that we could have done, and can do things better to realize our dreams. This often leads to invisible undercurrents of guilt in our minds. This guilt is ever present, continuous, and eating away at our energies and enthusiasm. A lot of mind energy, that can otherwise be used for moving ahead, gets used up for thinking over what could have been. Even this realization, that we are wasting our energy in guilt, puts a lot of people into futher guilt. Guilt over Guilt, that is a vicious cycle.

Guilt does absolutely no good, saps your energy and keeps you in a negative state. What’s more, with your focus on what has gone wrong, you manifest and see more of it in your life.

No, guilt doesn’t help, in any way. Banish it this very moment. Whenever it tries to creep in through a back door, shove it out firmly. Remember, when you try to go after your dreams, mistakes and blunders are inevitable. Feel good about yourself, feel good about the mistakes you have made and the lessons you have learnt because of them. Love yourself for your human tendency to err, for it is this human tendency that makes life uncertain, adventurous and interesting.

The past is gone, you don’t have the power to change what is done. Power is only available in the present moment, in the Now. This is the only moment you can change things in, it is the only moment in which you can make a clear shift from the past. Don’t waste it in guilt.

Yes, analyze your efforts, see what mistakes you have made. But do so without guilt, do so only to see how you can do better now. Go ahead, try, make some more mistakes and keep learning from them. When pain and heart break happens, accept it, feel it. Then get up, pull up your pants and get moving. No shame, no blame.

Keep greater focus on what you want. When you think more about the state that you want to be in, you manifest more of it.

Fear of failures

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. -Henry Ford

Yes things take time, sometimes,you just seem to be at the bottom of the pit with no way out. Yet you know you will come out, as you have come out in similar such situations before. Success could not be sweet if it came easy. Let it be hard, let it test you, make you cry. Let it do all this, for when it comes, it will be the sweetest thing in this world. Stay firm, hang on.

Failures cannot be avoided, until you decide to avoid life. Failures are not the anti-thesis of success as most seem to believe, they are an essential part of it. So many of us have a tendency to avoid failure and pain. We think failing is uncool. That is a very warped, fear-based idea. If you go out to the mountains for adventure, you have to be ready for the thorns, you have to be ready to take a few falls.

If you avoid failure, you end up avoiding all opportunities in life. You live a life that seems more and more unbearable, uninteresting and meaningless day by day.

There are so many examples of great personalities who have faced grave failures before they reached greatness. Usually there are tens of hundreds of failures before success comes. Look at Edison’s effort to invent the light bulb, look at Lincon’s struggle in life, or Amitabh Bachchan’s effort to get a foothold in Bollywood. If you ever feel God or the world has denied you ability or opportunity, look at the lives of Stephen Hawkling, Helen Keller and Wilma Rudolph.

Let go of ego, become humble and become accepting of failure. Take it for the lessons it brings. Take it for the challenge it adds to life.

Resentment

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – Malachy McCourt

So many of us also hold a lot of anger and animosity towards those who we think have harmed our progress. These are people who, in their own selfishness and for their personal gains, have used and abused us, hurt us and kept us from moving ahead towards our dreams.

Regarding the role of these people in your life, you had better answer some questions – At this very moment, what really determines your success? Their actions, or your response to them? Do you believe you have absolute power over your destiny, or do you beleive you are at the mercy of these people?

Decide carefully, for whatever you decide will become the truth of your life. This Universe respects your ideas completely and without judgement. If you decide you are powerless, the Universe will make that true for you. You will see ample examples and proofs to believe you have little power. But should you decide that you hold complete and absolute power over your destiny, the Universe will respect that too. You will find proofs to this effect, you will find the examples of the likes of Wilma Rudolph, Helen Keller, Gandhi, Dhirubhai Ambani, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and hundreds and thousands more.

Decide, and decide well.

Like guilt, all the resentment you ever hold in your heart has only one effect, it creates negativity in your own heart. It causes loss of life force to you and it keeps you experiencing the same, again and again. You can decide to hold on to it and live with it, or you can decide to let go, forgive, move on and do better.

It helps to remember that those whom you hold villains in your lives, are also humans. In their limited understanding of things, they do whatever best they can think of. If they think they are required to harm others for their gain, they are pitiable souls. They are not happy, they are very troubled and don’t know any better. Would you spend your own energy on resenting them and, thus, ensure you become like them? Or would you just have pity, forgive and move on?

Whatever or whoever the problem, just decide your own response to it. Just ascertain what is the best you can do to move ahead in this situation. Keep your focus steadily on what you want. Slowly, things will fall in place.

*****

These are the reasons I got reminded of during that conversation with my friend. I am sure there are more reasons why people are unsuccessful or end up unhappy. Can you think of any? Share them with us.

Love yourself, believe it’s a friendly Universe and accept life as an adventure. Happiness is most often just a choice, and you can make that choice right now.

Until next time…

Image credit: photostock

Career Experiences

In support of changing plans

My last article on why I am moving away from blogging full time got a lot of response from readers. They commented on the article, wrote personal messages to me and some, who know me personally, called me to inquire.

Some people seem to be disheartened and saddened by the decision, they got the idea that I am giving up on blogging.

I am not giving up, I am not leaving blogging. The change in plans is based on certain beliefs I have. I have discussed these before and I will reiterate them here.

Modification to plans

I am just readjusting my plan, the goal still remains the same. To explain further, here is an example from Steve Pavlina that I have quoted before. A plane is off-course almost 90% of the time during its flight. Yet it reaches its destination. How? Because the focus is on the end goal. They just keep readjusting the route all the time and stay more or less close to the expected path. Not perfect, but close.

The goal is more important than the plan. The plan keeps changing, it has to change. Good plans are the ones that are constantly modified and improved as fresh lessons are gained. That is the reason I did not obsess on a strong plan when I started out on this. I tend to make a decent plan, and then jump in. Then I modify my plan along the way, as I learn.

There is another benefit to this, this ensures a lot of adventure. Things are not fixed and you improvise as you go. When you do this, you live life in the moment. You are more receptive to new inputs, to the lessons your journey has for you.

I find this also analogous to an advice often given for fiction writing, plot loosely. When  you just have a loose plot for a story and start writing, you allow your creative genius to bring in fresh and helpful inputs throughout the task. With a rigid plot, you leave no space for deeper insights you gain as you move ahead. You find writing boring because you have already written the story in your mind and are now just rewriting it. But with a loose plot, you keep the whole process interesting till the end. Why not do the same with you life?

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. -George S. Patton

Pushing myself into a corner

During a boxing class I once attended, a fellow student was careless with keeping his guard(his hands) up. The instructor kept telling him to hold his guard up but he will do that only for a few seconds and then let it down. The instructor then sparred with him for a while, hitting him in the face again and again. The guy got the lesson, his guard never went down for the rest of the class.

Discomfort is often helpful in your growth and improvement.

One intention I have with this change is to push myself into a corner. I have grown a little comfortable writing posts and doing little else, even though most of the writing gets done in 2-3 hours daily. I have accomplished a lot, no doubt. But there seems to be a plateau setting into my performance. So, with this move, I am trying to break out of it. I am creating a sense of urgency, I am making myself uncomfortable.

The thing is, when you are faced with grave danger or extreme discomfort, there usually are no confusions which direction you have to move in, you act impulsively to save yourself or feel better. You don’t think what is the right thing to do, or what will make you happy. You won’t feel lazy and you won’t be slow or lacking in your execution. You will just act, in the best way you can.

But when there is no threat or discomfort in your life, finding a clear, meaningful and motivating goal gets a little difficult. If this is your predicament too, don’t go out to buy a new toy, just make a change that your heart approves but that otherwise makes you feel a little uncomfortable and insecure.

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. -Proverb

*****

While change seems uncomfortable, while it breaks the status quo, it is the only thing certain to happen. If we can come to accept it and embrace it, we come to accept a lot of learning, adventure and joy.

What, then, is the true Gospel of consistency? Change. Who is the really consistent man? The man who changes. Since change is the law of his being, he cannot be consistent if he sticks in a rut. -Mark Twain

Image credit: David Castillo Dominici

Career Experiences

End of full time Blogging for me

Some of you would probably know that I left a regular, well paying corporate job towards the end of 2010, to start blogging full time. This move has been in alignment with what I consider my ultimate purpose, to lead a conscious and aware life, do things that I connect with, and to help others become more conscious and aware.

Why I did it?

I wanted to bring together my purpose, my interest in writing, my urge to express myself, create something of my own, and make all of these into something that can be a sustainable source of livelihood. I had little idea of how this would work out but wanted to do it never the less.

From my job, I had sufficient savings, that can last me and my wife a few years, if we are thrifty. So we decided to take on the adventure. read more »