Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Should I Do with My Life

In a leadership training, someone recommended a book "What Should I Do with My Life?". In the words of Po Bronson, the author, this book is the true story of people who answered the ultimate question."What should I do with my life?" is the modern secular version of the great timeless questions about our identity, such as "Who am I?" and "Where do I belong?" We ask it in this new way simply because constant disruption in our society forces us to- every time we graduate, or get downsized, or move to a new city, we're confronted with this version of the question. It's a little more pragmatic than its philosophical and religious antecedents, reflecting the bottom-line reality that we can search for our identity only so long without making ends meet. Asking the question aspires to end the conflicts between who you are and what you do. Answering the question is the way to protect yourself from being lathed into someone you're not.

The traditional search for a career begins with the question "What am I good at?" But that's often not the right starting point for finding a calling. The true search is for what you believe in. When your heart's engaged, the inevitable headaches and daily annoyances become tolerable and don't derail your commitment  Let your brain be your heart's soldier. 

Most of the stories shows that- It was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life; in good times, they frequently only talked about change. 

These stories describes the life very beautifully- The good life wasn't something you owned, it was skills you mastered. The good life wasn't to own a big home, but to aspire of being a master builder. Not to have three kids and a fluffy dog, but to aspire to be a great parent.

Few people in the book talked in detail on how they chased their dream. We all must ask this test question if we are considering chasing a dream: Am I the kind of person who will find fulfillment even if I fail? It's easy to be a magnanimous guy if coin lands on heads. But to play a game of chance means you have to be capable of handling tails. Po mentioned the importance of having patience for converting the dream to real. For instance, if pursuing a dream required going back to school, you might wonder whether to quit your job and enroll in school full-time, or take the slow road and attend an occasional night class. The question's a bit of mirage. You'll have to nurture it, and you'll have to jump on its back. It take time, If you want to give yourself a fair chance to succeed, never expect too much too soon. Nine women can't have a baby in one month. Stories also say that its not the transition which is required for fulfilling the dream. Transition's not the right word- it'll require a transformation.

Few stories goes around the true success. A conventional "success' story is one where, with each next, the protagonist has more money, more respect, and more possessions. I'd like to suggest an alternate "success" story- one where, with each next, the protagonist is closer to finding that spot where he's no longer held back by his heart, and he explodes with talent, and his character blossoms, and the gift he has to offer the world is apparent. Po also talked about danger of success on some occasions. Failure 's hard but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever. It is so, so much harder to leave a good thing.

The stories in this book are of people who've taken what life has offered, good and bad, and said to themselves, "I'm going to learn from that, I'm going to change". This book is not an attempt to give an answer on what should one do with his or her life but it put the readers on observers seat to provoke their own thoughts. This book is a worth reading and truly enlightening.