With a corporate career spanning over a quarter of a century together combined with diverse arenas of interest and being committed to lifelong learning, I thought I should share my thoughts on carving a path through life in the fervent hope that many a reader would write right back in response.
Direction dwarfs distance
In a cricket crazy country, everyone knows that merely an attempt to hit the ball as far as possible is insufficient, the direction in which the ball is hit is equally if not more important. For those who have been fortunate to have played golf, know this quite well. In a frantic endeavour to cover a greater distance, the direction often goes awry. Finding the right direction in life is not something that happens to you, but something you create. No third person can possibly tell you which direction you should venture into. Spend some time thinking about your passion/s, notice what makes you happy, trust your instincts, discover your strengths, and make sure you surround yourself with people who support you and not discourage you. Most importantly, believe in yourself and don’t let any other person tell you otherwise.
Many amongst us have multiple things that we wish to attempt or achieve. Yet not all can be attempted or initiated simultaneously. You have to view this objectively and take cognizance of the needs of others where they are dependent on you, in addition to your own needs and aspirations. Having analysed the situation, it is time to prioritize. As Dr. Stephen Covey stated in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, put first things first (Habit 3). This means that you are ready to take control of your life and make the right choice. It means you have clarified your values to yourself and have now set your immediate goals (direction) in alignment with those values.
5Ps or 6Ps
Whether you believe that proper prior planning prevents poor performance or that proper prior planning promotes performance, planning is an absolute pre-requisite. Having determined your goal (direction), make a plan of how you intend to navigate the path. If you have read the previous article that I posted, you already know that you can alter the plan, but never give up on the goal. The moment the plan is finalized, it is time to Act! Start immediately, even if they are only baby steps that you take in the direction you have set for yourself. Do not procrastinate!
Get your hands dirty
Whether it is a start-up that takes off, whether it is your new role as a manager or whether it is an independent endeavour – rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty is essential. This is the only way you learn the dignity of each task at the grassroots level, you empathize with the work that is carried out no matter how menial it may be and you gain insights into the true nature of that work. It is always tempting to delegate to a subordinate or to an external source and delegation is undoubtedly critical to managing greater responsibilities, but you should never shy away from getting your hands soiled and attempting the task yourself – at least a couple of times. How can you control or organize what you do not yourself have an understanding of?
Always ensure your market value is greater than your present remuneration
The 7th Habit signposted by Dr. Covey is to “Sharpen the Saw”. He talks about preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have which is yourself, by having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four major areas of your life, including your health. To read it in the context of this article, you have to ensure that you are always ahead of the competition. Expand your horizon; learn as much as you can; diversify your interests; and ensure that what you are worth to the organization is always greater that what you are being paid for. If you are an independent professional, make sure that you deserve more than you desire. Read this excellent story I happened to chance upon once. Instead of getting disappointed at an expected promotion or added responsibility that isn’t coming your way, take action on two counts – make sure you inform your superior about your aspirations and at the same time, prepare yourself for greater responsibilities as quickly as you can.
If you cannot do what you love doing, love what you are doing
You hardly need to be told that if you love what you are doing, you will give it your best. In an ideal world, if you can do what you love for a living, you will feel more fulfilled; you will be at your productive best; you are self-motivated; your stress levels are lower; you are more effective and efficient and you will quite often push yourself harder. The flip side is that if you do what you love for a living, then it becomes work. Work is not play and never has been. The money may just not be enough and that will bring in more frustrations. Also it is not necessary that you have only one passion in life. The alternative is to do both – do what you love (whether for a living or otherwise) and love what you do – because that will ensure that you give it your best. Plus it gives you the advantage of growth, stability and sustainability.
Stress is an inevitable part of any professional life. Although, a small amount of ‘good stress’ is perhaps required to drive us forward, a large amount of ‘bad stress’ can play havoc with your physical health and mental peace. This is a topic on which you can find plenty of material on the internet and with the right amount of dedication and discipline, manage your stress. You may like to read the article - "A Guide to Reducing Stress for the Busy Person" elsewhere on this blog.
Stay blessed and may all your aspirations become reality!
The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member. You can contact him here.