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Thoughts Viewpoint WordPress

To Follow Your Heart Or To Follow Your Brain?

Almost 90% of motivational speakers, self-help books and billionaires advocate one constant ideology. It has many forms, but the version I like the most is this quote from Steve Jobs‘ from his famous Stanford University Speech:

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

steve jobs

I must have heard the Stanford University speech a thousand times now (<- not an exaggeration). I still get  goosebumps, every time I hear Steve’s soft voice hammer the point deeply into my head.

So, the heart of this theory (if you will pardon the pun) is that, if you follow your heart by choosing a career/doing things you love – you will succeed in life, right?

Conventional logic begs to disagree.

There are many arguments against the ‘follow your passion’ school of thought. Allow me to shed light on a few of them:

  1. What if your passion is in a field that is too competitive, and what if, despite the best of your efforts your efforts fail to materialize in achieving your passion?
  2. The career you’d like to follow is, to put it subtly, an economically unrewarding one (say, the liberal arts). Would one be able to make a living out of, say, quoting shakespeare? (Teaching jobs are few and far in between)
  3. Is the career that you’re about to choose based on your passion really your passion? Once you’re midway in a field, changing lines may be close to impossible at times.
  4. You could always follow a more economically rewarding position. As your primary job gives you enough money, you could follow your passion in your free time.

I can cite a dozen more points against the ‘following your passion’ platitude, but I stop here.

Picture this: You’ve just realized that you’re exceptionally talented in a particular field. You’ve listened to a couple of motivation speakers/read a few books/were inspired by a close friend or a teacher. And you’re all set to do what you love.

And that’s when someone – a skeptic (usually a parent or a close friend): asks you these gut-wrenching questions, which you fail to answer. You lose confidence. Your dreams are shelved. Boom.

My dear friend, if you are one of those hapless folks who have given up on their dreams due to mind-numbing logic…

SHUT OUT ALL THAT MEANINGLESS LOGIC AND BLOODY DO WHAT YOUR HEART TELLS YOU TO DO!!!

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart […]

[…]Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

This part of the Steve Jobs’ speech sums things up for you.

You have one life. If you live the rest of your life, doing things just because your grandmother or your uncle’s best friend told you that ‘this is the best way to make the most out of your life’, you should probably kill yourself right now, cause your life’s going to do it for you otherwise. It’s going to lead you to a slow and painful death – which is an entire life of disappointment and depression.

Oh yes, you can always follow your heart and choose to live too. A life of happiness, and joy!

As for the ‘logical questions’ – All these questions have a ‘what if’ part, that showcases the negative side of things. Okay, you’re starting out on something new and the first thing you hear is the plight of somebody who has tried and failed. The negative thought is planted in your mind, and the seeds of failure have sown themselves. Erase your mind, be positive – for every person who has failed, there is another person who has achieved spectacular success (the proverbs about failure are bloody wrong, I tell you!) Look around. Start your venture – with a positive mind and concentrated effort. Success will follow.

To answer each question one by one:

What if your passion is in a field that is too competitive, and what if, despite the best of your efforts your efforts fail to materialize in achieving your passion?

Honestly, if you’ve put in the best of your efforts – YOU WILL SUCCEED. Nobody said it won’t be a life without hardships, though. The challenge is to stay put, cause, if your mind is well-oriented and if your efforts are prudent and in the right direction – success will be yours! As for the rare chance of ‘what-if’, life has a habit of surprising us in the most heartening of ways. In the rarest of rare case where your efforts fail to bear fruit, life will open up a new path for you. Trust me!

The career you’d like to follow is, to put it subtly, an economically unrewarding one (say, the liberal arts). Would one be able to make a living out of, say, quoting shakespeare? (Teaching jobs are few and far in between)

What if I told you that liberal arts graduates earn more than their counterparts and some of the corporate majors in fact prefer liberal arts graduates? There are a lot of misconceptions about education in the society – and half baked opinions from grossly-misinformed passers-by only makes things worse for a student/job aspirant. If your passion/expertise lies in a particular field, you should go for it, no matter what! Success will follow.

Is the career that you’re about to choose based on your passion really your passion? Once you’re midway in a field, changing lines may be close to impossible at times.

True, interests change as people change… but passions rarely do. You have to find what you really love to do. Something that excites you and even gives you sleepless nights, an idea that consumes you… If you choose to go for a job that merely interests you, the axiom in question holds true. But once/if you realize your passion (no matter how late it is), you can always implement it… No matter what!

You could always follow a more economically rewarding position. As your primary job gives you enough money, you could follow your passion in your free time.

This is the biggest joke ever! This story will make you realize what I’m trying to say.

So, to cut a long blog post short… Try to find out what you love. It’s not that hard… as life unrolls before you, it gives you plenty of hints. Ask the right questions, and you’ll find the right answers. If you have not found it yet, keep searching. The answer is just another question away. You will realize as soon as you find it. And once you find it, do not let it go – no matter what. It’s never too late.

Follow your heart, no matter what.

I’d like to sign-off with with a quote from Matt Mullenweg – the doyen of Automattic, and one of the founders of WordPress. I’m one of Matt’s biggest fans alive, and this post owes a lot of inspiration to him. 🙂

Matt Mullenweg

 

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Viewpoint

The Politics Of Confusion

Almost every person who has known me for a while would know that I am a person with no political affiliations whatsoever. Yes, so if you ask me about the political outfit I stand for – I really do not have an answer for your question.

The reason being simple – I am politically confused.

[quotes]

That definitely does not mean I am disinterested in politics. I started keenly observing the political space as a child. I grew up at a time when my country, India, had just opened its doors to the world; when the information overload had just begun. Politics was something that you simply could not miss, thanks to the omnipresent media through which political leaders announced their gargantuan plans for development (most often leading to a series heated discourses, arguments and counter arguments on national television). The Narasimha Raos, the Deva Gowdas, The Gujarals and the Vajpayees never failed to catch my attention.

Despite my obvious interest in politics, something that was cultivated within me from an early age – thanks to the unavoidable information overload, one thing always kept bothering me – my inability to take a political stand. It even reflects in the way I have exercised my electoral franchise all this while. I have actually voted for all the major outfits throughout my voting stints till date! It also doesn’t help that different members of my extended family are part of all the major outfits as well. My paternal aunt and her family are chronic supporters of the left while my maternal family has never failed to vote for the Congress. And my cousin’s husband had actually contested in the parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket! (in those pre-NaMo times, that is). Which means, there practically is no ‘influence’ from the family to support a certain outfit; not that I would want such a thing myself, but yes – if such were the case, I could at least cite a reason why I support a particular party.

And that brings me to the reason behind my obvious political confusion. Now, allow me to ask you something: Why do you support the political outfit of your choice? Their ideologies? Their track record? The rhetoric and public support of the illustrious leader of the said political party? The history and the legacy of the political party and the role it has had to play in the development of your country? Or… is it because, the political party you support openly endorses the religion or the faith you believe in?

For me, all these questions fail to give justifiable answers.

As for ideologies, I don’t see any clear-cut ideologies offered by any of the political parties worth standing by. I was briefly enamored by the Aam Aadmi Party’s stand against corruption. But a party with the major selling point of anti-corruption, with a feeble leadership and lack of other driving agendas is bound to failure (which eventually happened, sort-of). Besides, if a party with the sole stand of anti-corruption could raise so many eyeballs (in the good days of AAP), it simply shows the ideological drought India is going through… I happen to be a clear casualty of the same.

Things are funny when it comes to the track record and party legacy. For every ‘achievement’ each party quotes as its own – there are five other stark examples of rampant corruption/mismanagement. I really do not want to get into the nauseating details here, but if you’ve been watching TV, you know, right? I hope I’ve made my point.

Now, as for leadership – I definitely have to admit that the leadership qualities and the public support enjoyed by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi are exceptional. From a party that was in a nearly decimated state a couple of years ago, he could garner public support by building a brand of his own and even single-handedly winning the elections with an impressive majority. As an able leader, many believe that he has the potential to turn around the fortunes of the country. That said, it would not be factually accurate to call Shri. Modi a person with a clean track record. And history has enough examples citing what could happen when a respectable leader chooses the wrong path.

Besides, one cannot turn a blind eye to the rising instances of communal polarization happening in the country right now. I see many people and organizations among me, spewing communal hatred and venom. I do have my reservations and fears about the direction our country is heading to. I can only hope for the best and pray for peace, to the same Gods for whom people are ready to die for (and even kill for). In fact, communal polarization and appeasement has always been a driving force for all political parties who have ruled the country. It’s something the congress and its allies have successfully employed for ages to ride on the wave of the minority vote-bank; that’s one of the reasons why have had the country in their clutches for quite a while now. The ruling front is allegedly reinventing it, through ‘majority appeasement’.

And I strictly do not endorse linking religion with politics. I am a devout believer in Hinduism, but that is definitely no reason for me to support a ‘Hindu’ party. I am of the opinion that religion and beliefs are personal choices, and should ideally have little role in nation-building. Apparently, a lion’s share of India’s population disagrees with my point of view – and that’s what scares me the most.

I don’t think I am the only person facing the same dilemma – if I look around, I can find a million politically confused friends of mine. And I feel this is one of the biggest dilemmas faced by the youth of this country. All of us want to do something for the country – we are bustling with energy, with resources, with intellectual capital. But, deep down, we are confused. We don’t know where to start… We don’t have lofty ideologies to drive us… Heck, we don’t even know what do or even whom to vote for!

Will I ever find a way out of this confusion? I really do not foresee the birth of any radical organizations or parties, at least in the near future. AAP did bring some hope, but it fizzled out within no time. People voted the BJP to power with a lot of expectations – but we are yet to see any radical changes. Of course, there is one thing we could do as empowered, educated youth. Keeping the political confusions and influences at bay, we ourselves could take the baton of nation-building on ourselves. Yes, there is a lot we could do to uplift our nation. A starting point to the same would be to do best the things we do/we love to do. Perhaps, when we all strive collectively for common good, a unifying ideology would emerge… Something that would help us not only make our country, but also the world a better place… 🙂

The fact that we are politically confused would become a non-issue then.

Categories
Life Personal Thoughts Viewpoint

8 Things 2013 Taught Me

By all means, 2013 was a roller-coaster of a year; so much to the extent that I’d like to borrow an oft-abused cliche to describe the year – ‘life changing’.

Yes, 2013 changed the course of my life.

And what a year it was! From exhilarating highs to excruciating lows, from dizzying successes to debilitating failures – my life kept zig-zagging through a trajectory of the most unpredictable occurrences. Today, as I look back at the year that has sped by, I realize that I have changed. I’m not sure whether it’s for the better or worse, but the life-lessons I’ve learned over this year have been amazing. Things suddenly make more sense than they used to, and I’m sure these vital life lessons would go a long way in helping me live my life in a better way. I’d like to share some of them with my dear readers. 🙂

Life – As you know it

Here’s a list of 8 things that 2013 taught me:

  1. Stay Detached – I know, detachment is easier said than done. But, trust me, staying detached will solve a lion’s share of your problems. And by detachment – I certainly do not endorse living life in your own little shell (we’re all social animals for God’s sake!) Complete detachment practically impossible too  for lesser mortals like us. That said, we can definitely curb our desires. Give that overpriced, fancy new phone you’ve always craved for a miss. You’ll slowly notice your life changing for the better. Speaking from experience.
  2. Find time to do what you love – Thanks to economic pressures, we all end up doing day jobs we hate. We don’t have other options, many among us need to code our way to glory to earn our daily bread! It’s necessary evil. Yet, we all get our share of spare time – which, sadly, we end up whiling away doing the most unproductive of tasks. I hope I don’t sound like a management guru when I say this – but, try finding time to do what you love. Even if it’s for thirty minutes a day. If you’re a bibliophile, grab that John Greene book, if you’re into arts and crafts, start making seasons-greetings cards for your loved ones, in your spare time. These little joys of life have helped me survive the most traumatic of experiences all through this year. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you too 🙂
  3.  BE Selfish! – Okay, I know some of you guys are gonna beat me up for saying this – but trust me, you HAVE to be selfish to survive in these cut-throat times! For a person who virtually ruined his life trying to do good for his loved ones, this nugget came as quite a revelation! No, I’m not asking you to step on others shoulders and put them down so that you could climb up. Just realize this fact – at the end of the day your life is YOURS ALONE  – so is your happiness and your problems. So the next time you make that sacrifice for that friend, just think twice: Is what you’re about to do worth it?
  4. NEVER Stay Idle – How often have you been in debilitating situations, all your life? Situations which pull you down to your worst… As they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade from it!”. Never ever let your depression leave you paranoid. The idle mind is, and will forever be the devil’s workshop! So whenever you’re down, or whenever you’re idle with nothing to do – find something to engage yourself. Preferably indulge in tasks that excite you. 🙂
  5. Never Take Anyone for Granted –  Oh, so you have that super-awesome buddy who has been with you through thick and thin. You consult him/her for your life decisions and you pretty much tell everyone that he/she will be with you till you dying day, right? Well, brace yourself – it’s easier said than done. This, my friend, is the age of unpredictability. People change, and before you know it, your ‘best friend’ will leave you for reasons that could be downright silly! Of course, all your love and care, all the sacrifices you’ve done for them will vaporize instantly. Be prepared for that loss – it might come any day. Practicing detachment will help ease your pain too.
  6. Brace yourself… The Sky is about to fall! – Yes, you read it right, my friend. With the randomness of life destroying all existing rules of probability, you’ll have no idea what’s about to happen to you in the days to come. Life has a habit of surprising you ever day. The surprise may be for good or bad – if it’s good, you rejoice. But what if it is bad? What if it destroys your life, as you know it? Always be prepared for the worse – you never know when your world comes crashing down. Quoting my dad: “Expect the best and prepare for the worst.” 🙂
  7. “Love your job… But NEVER fall in love with your company!”  Thus spake one of the front runners of the Indian IT Revolution.  Even whenone of the most-renowned CEO’s vouched for this axiom – I always rebutted this… only until I realized the bitter truth. If you’re employed, you are just a RESOURCE for your company. (In fact 99% of the IT companies publicly refer to their employees as resources). And like all resources, once you’re depleted, you must be set aside (read: kicked out!). Just make sure you do your job without fail and also ensure that you actually have a life outside work. And there’s absolutely no harm in changing jobs for a better package. When you’re nothing but a ‘resource’ for you company, what’s the point in being loyal to it?
  8. There is a better life outside the social network – This was one of my biggest lessons from 2013. Those of you who know me personally know how addicted I was to the whole concept of social networking. True, it did add a lot of brownie points to my resume – from introducing me to the career of freelance journalism to making me a professional social media manager. But at the end of the day, my life began and ended in the internet. I did learn the hard way about the dark side of social networks. That said I haven’t abandoned them; that would be sheer escapism – but I decided to ‘disconnect to connect’. And I must admit – I am happy. 🙂

The Last Ink Drop:

Just a disclaimer for some of my ‘intellectual’ readers – these realizations that I’ve had, these ideas… they’ve been around for a while now. They are not strictly speaking, ‘original’. But they have been discoveries for me personally. I can’t speak for you, but they have changed my life for the better. 🙂 If you feel like implementing any of them in your own life, be my guest. 🙂 I’ll only be too happy that I brought a smile to your life – if it makes you feel better.

And, I know an update here was long due. My apologies to those who still come back here searching for new posts and were left disappointed.  I’m going to be regular from now on. 🙂 Have a few surprises ahead for you guys too. Do keep checking back.

Season’s greetings, folks! Here’s wishing you a great year ahead! 🙂

Categories
Musings

Being Positive

Life hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for me. Especially over the past month. The going just got tough all of the sudden. Before I knew it, crisis loomed large and engulfed me in a veritable storm of sorts — a storm that’s quite likely to stay on for a long long time.

Be positive

This isn’t the first time things have gone bad for me. I’ve lived through worse situations. Can’t say that I came out unscathed all the time. Each bad phase has left an indelible scar. Some scars still hurt, pain bringing back memories from the past. Each bout of pain has one startling similarity with its predecessor — the element of surprise. But that’s the beauty of life, it hits you on your belly right when you’re gaily indulging yourself.

One thing I’ve realized while swimming through a vast ocean of problems is the potency of optimism.

Optimism is a powerful sword that can cut through life’s many adversities with ease. It’s a rejuvenating principle that charges you up, and equips you for the worst while expecting the best. Optimism is all about seeing opportunities in every problem. Yes, every crisis is an opportunity in disguise. Even the most seemingly-dismal of adversities could turn favourable in the long run. But how often do we realize this? We fret more about our problems, doing little to solve them. We beat about the bush in careless mourning, wasting valuable time instead of taking control of the situation to make our ends meet.

Being positive when the going gets tough helps us focus more on our problems. Just believing that greener pastures aren’t far away is all you need to do. Trust me, happier days aren’t far away. All your problems are temporary, it’s only a matter of time until they ward themselves off. Days, weeks, months or years later, you’ll look back at your problems and smile at how silly they were. Nobody can make a lock without a key; likewise, every problem has its solution. To smith the key to your lock, you’ll have to mould it with patience. And patience has a direct relation with a positive attitude.

As someone rightly said, the happiness of your mind depends on the quality of your thought. Negative thoughts pull you down, deep down into the ditches. Positive thoughts lift you up, high up, onto the pedestal of happiness and inner peace.

So, be positive.

Like me. 🙂