Very often, six months after the campus placements, HR Heads start receiving resumes from the very people who had declined their offer for more lucrative opportunities
We are all destined for a certain success. If only we knew what we want, and enabled ourselves to become more self aware
Why professionals need to introspect when choosing a career appropriate to his/ her life space.
Over the years, I have had numerous opportunities of meeting very talented but disillusioned people, who are confused, and possibly even already derailed in their careers. Many of them have had impeccable academic credentials, and on a fast track in their career. Then from nowhere they seemed to be losing that very edge they felt was theirs for posterity.
I was once undertaking a career design workshop for some very successful sales managers, and was shocked that virtually all of them came into that industry by pure serendipity! None had planned to be in that industry, and happy accidents got them to ‘walk-in’ for an interview. Once inside, they just stayed on, becoming reasonably successful, but not necessarily fulfilled, with a deep-seated emotional state of under satisfaction.
Likewise, there was a successful business manager, who had also been an expatriate leader in his organization, but was suddenly facing a dead end. He was obviously earning a lot of money, but felt stuck in life. Helping him find his true career anchor, we discovered that philanthropy and social work was what he really came alive doing. And all his past years suddenly looked hollow, even though, to the world he may have been very successful.
I see a similar experience on campuses as very bright minds struggle to make their minds up about their career. This has been a growing trend in recent times. Very often, six months after the campus placements, HR Heads start receiving resumes from the very people who had declined their offer for more lucrative opportunities, only to realize some months later that they were culturally not compatible with the organizations they had chosen. And this happens year after year!
What may be possibly going wrong? Reasons may be many, including the ability to manage career transitions, inability to ‘let go’, the failure to be effective people leaders and so on. But the reason why they are stuck in the wrong job, discipline or company, is because of an incorrect call they made in the past. And very often, rationalizing why they cannot extricate themselves from it all - perhaps the money is great, or his lifestyle or even the family needs it to be that way. Very typically, it is consequence-led logic, but at the end of it all, the inability to ask tough questions leaves the person very unfulfilled and unhappy. A convenient path, but is finally, inconsequential.
Very often, we are conditioned by societal and parental influences, when it comes to choosing our choice of education streams, vocations, companies and even work locations. Nothing wrong or unusual about it. The problem is, that while most of these decisions very significant they are guided by a de-risking mindset or sharp stereotyping. Everyone must study science after high school, whether or not one enjoys it. One must do engineering irrespective of his or her aversion to the subject. What if something were to go wrong? And we may make sub-optimal choices and choose to do something that we were not naturally born for. Even worse that we give up the option of doing something that we could have excelled in. And then we justify our choices looking back, else blame someone for a wrong turn taken and even living with it for years.
All of us have an option - to decide or be decided about. Similarly, we have a choice to lead a life of convictions, or one of mere consequences. Regrettably, most of us decide from the latter paradigm. Imagine a fish trying to climb a tree. Maybe it will learn and even be successful. But a fish was born to swim. What all it could have done had it done just that?
We are all destined for a certain success. If only we knew what we want, and enabled ourselves to become more self-aware. No case studies are written about mediocrity. They are always about successes and even more failures. How then can one choose to build successful and happy careers that are suited to one? It does not have to be something that works for everyone else. If only we dared to follow our convictions, and not weigh everything in consequences.
How can we discover our true career anchors? What possible lines offer us greater learning opportunities? What are our deep passions? What are the values that are very dear to us? Why do we fear doing something that seem counter-intuitive to the world? Why do we prefer to tread the beaten path? Perhaps the answer is because we chase consequences like money, lifestyle, titles, and power. However, careers that are not built on deep convictions either, never give the expected consequences and so leave us as mediocre, or even if they do, they leave a void of not having lived life to its fullest.
But there is hope. I also see an increasing number of professionals who are choosing what they want to do. A former civil services batchmate, an alumnus of MIT, discovered his passion for teaching and is now a happy and well respected school teacher of Mathematics! There are many who choose to give it all up to chase an entrepreneurial dream, in the area of their passion. There are newer vocations emerging, many are also financially rewarding. There are civil servants now willing to give up the trappings of power, to fulfill deeper aspirations. There are young software professionals setting up libraries, or even opening canine care homes. There are MBAs who are going to rural towns to set up self-help groups for women. These are the exceptions that are choosing to build a different future. They have dared to dream, and lead a life of self-belief. These are people who are willing to trust their gut, and not be something for someone only to regret years later and wish they could have done something they always wanted, but never dared to.
There is a need for us to take that moment to stop being part of a herd. Pause and introspect. Set our dreams in line with our native strengths. Lead a life of convictions, and not a life of consequences. After all, what is the point of building a career that was inconsequential to our larger lives? Our career space must ideally have a significant overlap with our life space.
Prabir Jha is the Senior Vice President and Head-HR of Tata Motors. The views expressed here are purely of the individual. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org