I have imagined standing in front of students at my old school and giving them some advice. The problem is, if I give the kind of advice that I want to give, they may never let me step into the school again. Hence, I have decided to dispense this advice in my blog. It is my blog and nobody can stop me!!! So here goes…
From when I was kid it was told that one should aim for the first rank. In fact, first in anything. You see, there are some kids that are the go-getter kinds. And then there are some who just aren't. I am not a go-getter. If someone isn't ambitious, they are looked at as if something is wrong with them and that somehow they are not 'as good'. This is so untrue, I tell you. the fact of the matter is, each one is good at something. It may not be academics. It may not be sports. It may not even be singing and dancing and all that stuff that gets the attention. Everyone is definitely good at something or the other. And the key is finding out what it is you are good at and excelling in it. It may be taming frogs for all you know. But hey, not everybody can do that.
You have been told that you have to study hard if you are to make it in life. When you are in high school, std 10 board exams are so hyped, you think you are writing the exam of your life. What you haven't realized is, it has only begun! Following this is your std 12 board exams. And then your entrance tests, etc. And then your semester exams. And then your CAT, or MAT, or BAT, or RAT… And then your interview and group discussion and your first job and appraisal and sheesh, the list doesn't end. It is like you are caught in this trap of always trying to be. My advice here is, just be! It is ok if you are not like someone else. And it is ok if you don't seem to fit in the league of the extraordinary. The truth is, everybody is ordinary in their own way. In trying to be what the competitive world is expecting of you, don't let it squeeze into its mold. Be yourself. And people will take note of you for that. And in that you will shine.
This brings me to the next advice. Don't follow the crowd. Well, don't jump into something simply because the field is proven to give you lots of money or make to successful. For God's sake, there are other course to study other than medicine and engineering! Well, if you do like medicine or engineering, don't let this post convince you not to do it. Identify what you may like to do (I say 'may' because you will still not be sure of what exactly you will want to do…;). Follow your heart. And then there may be this issue of people not giving you your heart's choice! Don’t let them break your heart. Do the next best thing. Or worse comes to worse, do what is available. It is not bad you know. Sometimes, you may end up enjoying this more than you would imagine.
Don't be worried if you are not too ambitious. Like I mentioned earlier, the are different kinds of people - and you just aren't the ambitious kind. Don't try to be something you are not.
Learn to take life as it comes. Well, sometimes you can make it happen. But don't be too rigid with your plans. You may miss the best of opportunities by trying to fit in your life according to your measly plans. Be willing to be surprised by life - even if it is a nasty surprise. You will always come out learning more about yourself and the world around you.
Be a learner. Don’t lose your eagerness to know. That curiosity. Don't lose it. Be teachable. Never reach the point in your life where you think you know it all. Even after 20 years experience, you may end up learning new things. If you think you have reached the point where you know it all, you cease knowing it all. (It sounds cool to put it this way… lol… it may make no logical sense, but you get the drift, don't you? If you don't, never mind…:P
[Stuff below are for when you begin your 'career' or are half way into it (or out of it)…]
Question you should hate with intense hatred and refuse to answer in interviews (if you are a HR person, don't ask this question!!): "Where do you see yourself in 'n' years?!" What are they interviewing me for? The post of an astrologer?!!! I don't know what is going to happen to me tomorrow, leave alone 'n' years from now…
Love this line from Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's free to wear sunscreen: 'Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.'
If you like a job, stick with it. Well, for however long you can. But if you hear the call of adventure, step out. No worries either way.
If you don't like a job, stick with it. Well, for however long you can. You will definitely learn how it should not be. And this lesson will go a long way when you climb the career rung…
Don’t be afraid of small beginnings. In fact, I will recommend starting from the scratch. When you are a manager, you will have a better appreciation for people in the lowest rung.
Never forget your humble beginnings. Write them across your heart and never never forget it.
Jumping jobs is not necessarily a sign of lack of stability.
Lack of stability is not necessarily a bad thing.
Treat people with respect. Don't treat them like commodities. They have families, loved ones, dreams, hopes, aspirations, a heart - just like you do. I am not saying hire people out of pity. What I mean is don't treat them like objects - to be used and thrown and trampled upon. Respect them.
Confide in someone about your work worries and insecurities. Be vulnerable with at least one person. It is good for your soul.
Don’t let the world know that you are that vulnerable.
Build contacts. Be good to people. Be willing to help. Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile. These people may go an extra mile for you someday. Well, I am not saying use people here. I am saying your paths may cross and it is good to help one another out. And oftentimes, you may be helping out another through your contacts.
When you don't know something, be willing to admit it. That is the first step to learning it.
Do not worry when you feel that you have lost your vision. Feelings will pass. And once the clouds of doubt clear out, your vision will be out in the open again.
If you wake up in the morning and start calculating to see how many sick leaves you have remaining to call in sick, quit.
Don't be afraid of quitting. The ocean is big and there is a lot of fish in it. Why hold on to the dead stinking one. In fact you may find an exotic one out there! (I have to thank Swetha for this advice.)
Take breaks. Don't burn out.
Build in energizers - Let us face it. All of us may not enjoy the work that we do. Even if we do, we may get bored of it sometime simply because we HAVE to do it. But we don't have a choice as we need the money! So the secret is, build in energizers. May be during your break or during your day off. Use your casual leave. Take time off to do that thing which you enjoy doing. Build it into your routine. I like to think on stuff, and write in my journal. (Some of it you read in my blog :P) [The credit for this advice goes to Rob]
Whatever you have in your hand, do it well. Oftentimes, happiness is a choice.
If you aim at nothing, you will hit nothing. If you keep aiming, still you will hit nothing. For God's sake shoot that arrow! (That way, you will sure enough hit at something - atleast… You see, the secret lies more in the shooting not as much in the aiming!)
[I would like to thank Maddy who is responsible for this post; Rob, Swe, Ajoy and others for giving their precious little life's instructions; Anju for inspiring me to make lists; my old manager who has taught me what bad management is.]