Saturday, March 31, 2007

On passion and jobs

This is somewhat of a sequel to my earlier post, The Truth about jobs. This one is about passion. If you are part of the corporate world, theres a constant refrain that is heard "I don't love my job" or "I would rather be doing something else". The corollary is "My job doesn't pay me enough" or "I am in this job for money" or "I wish I could sing/dance/teach for a living but it does not pay me as much as my job does".

Sitting in a cubicle trapped by three moulded walls and a boss, it is easy to take a judgement call on ones job. But the fact is that it really is your bread and butter (or chappati or idli). Most of us view our passion as an escapist route to get out of our routine mundane jobs. The sentences start with, It would be great if I could ...

There are many who love their job - research, project management, accountancy, central excise (one of our old profs said central excise is his hobby), software maintenance, traffic policeman or even printing invoices day in and day out. For them their job is their passion. Every ounce of their energy they put in their work counts for them as an achievement. I have met people who can rave about the latest flexfield in Oracle apps or those who can look at a new software program and work spellbound until they crack the ultimate details of it. Look around you. There are quite a few of them. This is not to say that they are dull outside work. Usually they are not. They have interests outside of work and they cultivate it too.

There is a second set of people who have a great passion for something. Writing or music or driving or cooking or quizzing. They are the ones who quit their day jobs to be their own boss. Remember it is tough for someone who is passionate about, say, music to work for someone else. Because passion for music is an outlet of ones own creativity, it is difficult to alter some notes because your boss doesn't like it. Likewise, if I write something, I don't want an editor to come and prune my prose to a bonsai - I write it because thats how I want it to be, warts and all. These are the people who take the path less trodden and work on their own, for their passion. They work because they love it - the money is a byproduct and it usually happens. The road can be long or hard or both and many do make it - the gains in satisfaction are immense. Needless to say, this road is not easy and it involves a steep climb till you make it.

The majority of people see their jobs and passion as distinct. Out of these are people who do their jobs sincerely - accept it for what it is and do a sincere job of it. "My job brings me the money and I will do justice to it". If they do work on a passion or an art and craft, it is separate from their work. Some of them continue to work on their passion, while for a lot many it is lost along the way - while some expect their children to work on their own unfulfilled passion!

The last set of people are those who want someone else to infuse passion into their jobs. That, unfortunately, will never happen. Either you are passionate about your job or you seek your passion outside of work or you yourself go out and convert your passion into your work. There is no fourth option. No Robinhood or talent scout is ever going to discover you if you don't do anything. If you are a writer, you better write. If you are a singer, you better keep singing. Out of the mountains of paragraphs (or songs), one (or a few) could be diamonds (out of the mountains of coal) - the rest is just a process of discovery. As in cricket, you gotta keep scoring the boring singles, wait for the chances to hit the sixes and all of it totals to the magic figure of a century. All those boring singles and the big hits create a career.

So what is the point of this post? Keep doing what you like, regardless of your job and as Raamdeo Aggarwal once told me, "If you are a star, keep working and you will be discovered" and I must add, if not by someone else, you will surely discover yourself.


Siva Rajendran said...

Excellent post. I love that last line. //if not by someone else, you will surely discover yourself.//

Senti Indian! said...

"If you are a star, keep working and you will be discovered" and I must add, if not by someone else, you will surely discover yourself". - very true. Its hard to be persistent and consistence with your performance even when you are not getting any result from the desired lot; but those who do... get noticed and admired.

megha said...

An amazingly true post!!! Couldn't agree with u more...

Usha said...

i stumbled on ur blog from the passionsandsurvival blog.
i find that your views(especially in "the truth about jobs") are over simplifying the situation. first of all you cant assume that people actually know what they are passionate about-we grow up in very conditioned, sheltered cultural spaces(not specifically india). what we want from life is defined dictated, told, and then subconsiously accepted by us.
do u think everyone in india really wants to become the next sachin, shah rukh of India, just becuase they say so? is it not possible that they merely echo the collective refrain?
my views are that we need to discover our passion -and this process can be painstakingly long and requires considerable self questioning, searching(within oneself and outside), reading, travelling,most of all opening up our mind to possibilities. but the problem is that in India we grow up with a mindset that assumes that soul-searching is a luxury, travelling is for affluent people, and "taking time off" is irresponsible. well, the truth is that none of this is true. practially speaking, travelling can be made affordable, soul searching days can be funded with odd jobs- again we have to overlook the 'stigma' of doing 'lowly' jobs- most authors, actors, dancers, activists and "mainstream achievers" have done this at one time or the other. i wonder sometimes what happened to "dignity of labour" that gandhi spoke about.
i cant believe we have to be "accept" jobs that merely pay for a living--if so, this cant be the permanent reality of everyone's lives? we need to work for a living--but not all the time.
most of all, we need to realise that we may be merely succumbing to a system that forces people to "work" so that they can earn money and "buy" things and sustain a lifestyle that they HAVE NO NEED TO adhere to- a system that is a full circle of earning and consuming- a true capitalistic dream economy.

joy said...

A great post that speaks the truth, especially the last time. Keep up the blog, it is coming up excellent.