It was 7 am on a foggy Monday morning in June 2013. The sun was not up yet. I could make out the faint outline of the ferry terminal through my hotel window. A mournful foghorn split the silence announcing the arrival of a ferry. Commuters flitted like ghosts between the lights and the fog. I was thinking of my work week when a thought entered my mind. "Is this what I see myself doing for the foreseeable future? Selling more printers and services to customers? There is no challenge in it anymore. Shouldn't I be my own boss?"
I wasn't alone. A quick poll done among my corporate friends showed that this thought had entered everybody's head at some time. Typically, when approaching the 50's. At this point, your career is at its peak. You are on cruise control; your job doesn't use your total brain capacity. It's only going to be downhill from now. You feel the need to do something different and not another job. Be the master of your own destiny. If you haven't felt this need, now would...
Wait! What? If this is your reaction to reading the headline, please read on. If not, this article is a waste of your time.
"Follow your passion" is an oft-heard bit of career advice that is wrong in so many different ways. Words like passion, purpose are bandied about meaninglessly. I struggled to define these words for my career. In this blog, I will try to explain these words, debate if they can help you make fulfilling career choices, and suggest an approach that might help. - that's the engineer in me talking. I will also talk about my mantra that has defined my career choices. You can decide if it is too shallow or, as they say in Singapore, too "Chim"- meaning profound.
Let's begin by trying to understand the difference between purpose and passion.
I didn't have a passion. I enjoyed playing basketball but was never an ardent fan. I liked reading Western pulp fiction but wasn't passionate about it. I felt comforted by the fact that 8 out of 10 people either do...
We are living in a world of the quantified self, trying to measure every aspect of our lives. How many steps did I do today? What was my sleep score? How many calories did I consume today? The sole aim of this data and algorithmic driven pursuit is to achieve the pinnacle of happiness. So, can we measure and track happiness? The World Happiness Report measures and ranks it by country. Finland is the “happiest country in the world”.
What about individuals like you and me?
There are a few tests to measure happiness or subjective well-being. I decided to try one from the University of Pennsylvania. It’s called the Authentic Happiness Inventory score. Mine was 3.08 out of 5.
What does that mean? Am I unhappy? Am I marginally happy? Usually, a sixtieth percentile score is not good. While pondering this dilemma, I came across an article written by Arthur Brooks, a Harvard Professor. He has developed three equations for happiness.
Equation 1 : Subjective Well Being =...
A quick recap of what transpired in Part 1.
Gerard lost his job during the Covid crisis and at 58 years old realized that he had lost his identity as well. He was not wanted in the company and he did not know what to do next. We chatted and my main message to him was that he needed to stay relevant. But first, he needed to disconnect and experience life without the corporate umbrella.
Fast forward to six months into the future.
Gerard had learnt to experience life away from a corporate job. He had started practicing Tai-Chi and enjoyed taking long walks. He and his wife watched Korean soap operas in the middle of the day. He was able to catch up with friends for lunch. He and his wife had relooked at their lifestyle and reworked their monthly household budget. Life had slowed down.
He had taken the first turn on the Flywheel to Staying Relevant.
“To stay relevant — not just economically, but above all socially, you will need the ability to constantly learn and reinvent yourself,” — Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
Gerard put down the phone in a trance. He had just finished a call with his manager and the HR executive. The news was not good.
Gerard was a senior accounts manager in a small precision manufacturing company. He had worked at this firm for the last twenty years. He was a competent performer and his colleagues respected him. He thought he was doing a good job.
Then, a pandemic came out of China. Governments all over the world forced lockdowns to “flatten the curve”. Companies shut their offices. Gerard’s company instructed the Finance team to work from home. He had to learn a new lexicon of life - Zoom, Google Meets, WfH(Work from Home), On-line training, Online shopping, Food delivery apps and a New Normal.
He struggled with logging in for Zoom calls....
Just because working remotely is technologically possible doesn't mean it's perfect for us all. For the ones with children, it puts caretaking right in the center of work life balance and this was never a challenge till Covid 19. Juggling online school and working parents without help is a problem no one was ready for, but it's surely making an impact.
Global work culture typically still uses time as a core metric for performance evaluation and compensation. Professional services careers like finance, consulting, and law compensate their workers per hour more than regular professions. If one asks for flexible work arrangements to manage children’s responsibility, its guaranteed to...
This has been a troubling time for all of us around the world, however, most of us are fortunate to be at home and spend time looking inwards for a change. Yes, the social distancing has given us a lot of time away from the daily distractions, to reflect on what is really important to us and what has been working and what has not been working.
As I discuss with some of my peers and friends, some may decide that they don’t want to go forward in their current work stream, and it’s a good time to make a switch.Some others may decide they really like what they’re doing but want to change the way they go about doing it. This is a special time in our lives that can help us to improve things or make a shift and do something new and different.
There could never be a better time than now to rethink how you...