Thursday, January 1, 2015

Decoding Passion

       "This job is not my passion, I want to quit as soon as possible" said Suresh - a fresh graduate, with a disgruntled look on his face. Its not quite easy to forget his father who runs a shop in our neighborhood, smiling with a big sense of relief on the first day his son joined his first job. It's been just two months since then and Suresh wants to quit his job now. His father requested me to speak to Suresh so that he revokes his decision of quitting his job which according to him is not his passion. It's been a difficult task to convince a young person who is emotionally charged, only using logic. After discussing for an hour, finally Suresh agreed to stick around in that job for another six months. In a country where around 12 million youth are joining the work force every year, incidents like the above one are becoming more and more familiar in the recent times giving nightmares to every organization which face early attrition of their new recruits. This article is my attempt to demystify this interesting social trend which is gaining significance among our youngsters.
Popularized by many thought leaders and recently by the movie '3 idiots' this particular message of 'Making your passion as your profession' has struck a deep chord among many youngsters. Since, the major portion of our life is going to be spent in our profession, having our passion as our profession is one of the beautiful gifts life can offer us. I salute those extraordinary gentlemen who had achieved tremendous professional success by following their passion. We live only once and what is wrong in following one's passion. Certainly not wrong, Isn't it? Wait, what if that this message of making our passion as our profession has a fundamental flaw in it? This message is inbuilt with two assumptions. Let me explain my viewpoint in detail.
First assumption: Does everyone knows what is their passion with precision? Is our educational system and upbringing make us think and reflect on what actually drives us? Does a 22 year old person has enough life experience to decide concretely on what profession he should pursue for the rest of his life? In my limited experience I would say a big No.
Its a surprising insight that most of the successful people in the new age organizations had no clear career map when they were out of their college. They stayed flexible and made themselves open to the possibilities which came during their professional journey. So the interesting point to think about is whether our fixation towards a particular thing / function / hobby is making us blind to whatever other opportunities which is coming our way. Another point to ponder about how we confuse Hobby and Passion with each other. So how can we explain the success of those people who have started certain things, for example playing keyboard, as their hobby initially and went on to achieve excellence. Its not just curiosity but greater levels of commitment and hard work which had gone into making that hobby a passion and excellence happens along the journey. To put it simply if we cannot give our 100% to it, then it's not and cannot be our passion.
Second assumption: Youngsters like Suresh often assume the efforts of people who make them to reflect upon their passion as an attempt to derail them from pursuing their heart. They often tend to ignore the expertise of experienced people and stick to their preferences. It's quite surprising to know that the God of cricket - Sachin Tendulkar initially wanted to become a fast bowler and was asked by Dennis Lillee to focus on his batting. That is the power of the expertise of the experienced people which we often tend to ignore. So, choosing a career path should also be based on the advice from experienced people. This will help us match our innate strengths with the skill sets which are more valued in a particular profession. Unfortunately, not even the best of academic institutions provide students with this insight of matching their strengths to a profession which they can chose to pursue. It's an irony that sometimes even educated parents are projected as villains when they ask their kids to choose a course, which they foresee to have a better future or which will suit their children better.
Final Thoughts: It is good to follow one's own passion, but it's equally good not to waste opportunities for that passion which we are either unclear about or which is located somewhere in the eternal future. Let us not waste the opportunity that is right there in our hands. Hard work comes first, pursuing our passion comes second since many of us are not fully aware what our passion really is.
As scholars say, making your passion as your profession can be done after doing enough self reflection on - what you love, what you are good at and what is paid better in the job market. If we are able to balance these three things together, then we hit the bulls eye. If we haven't found our passion yet, let us not waste the opportunity which is right there in our hands. Because at the end of the day, it's only hardwork, not just desire which defines passion. As Steve Jobs said 'Love what you do' and make it as our passion instead of finding 'Do what you love' and wasting opportunties as well as time.
Ramesh Moorthy