After a clueless adolescence in the 80’s, I succumbed to the wisdom of the ‘all-knowing herd-mentality’ and veered into the path of mechanical engineering. It wasn’t my fervent passion (playing football was) but without any questing search, or deep reflective considerations, conformity took hold over me. I went along, and I do express gratitude for 'a' path. More than academic rigour, as a hostel boarder, I owe my under-grad years to the riotous laughs, the liberation away from home, the abundance of entitled and lazy friends, with whom I enjoyed a kind of music and a new way of life.
Graduated, worked in Indian Navy as an officer, and then consigned my working bandwidth to the country’s premier engineering company L&T, that offered me a remarkable crevice into the world of selling, leadership and international business. Nothing sensational in life so far, fluidity of the regular prevailed.
Nathan Morris says ‘Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It is your masterpiece after all’. I reflect upon this quote now but at that time, I was bereft of its potency. The IT wave had seized India and exodus began from other sectors towards it. Even for a content with life and unamplified chap such as I, excitement of the unfamiliar was alluring. Went back to college to dabble in mobile communications, got emboldened, renounced mechanical engineering career and began working in the Wireless technology group of L&T Infotech. A fall on the trampoline produced a bounce which brought me to the UK and for 6 yrs., had my fair share of successes, failures and prodigious learning. There was interest in technology but beneath the veneer, as I think about it now, it wasn’t a sensational passion and awe for a vocation.
‘The stoppered bottle does not care whose is the hand that removes the cork - all it wants is the chance to fizz.’- P.G. Wodehouse. At this stage in life, a chance to fizz took precedence for me over any precise career path led by popularity. I verged upon Life Coaching & Executive Coaching that outraged the living daylights out of my conforming existence. My new acquired life education was liberating, shattered my limiting beliefs, inner constraints and shook the lazy foundations of my ‘Being’. What I used to construe until then as tentatively possible, appeared to me with more certainty as I began to put my life back with more purpose and conviction. I founded Headstride Ltd., created the Apperceptive framework which forms the bedrock of the firm’s existence and now offer Leadership Development, Sales training and Coaching services. Relentless curiosity into the workings of the human mind and innumerable courses, made me grasp new conceptual skills and frameworks.
While I was busy, tending and nourishing the Headstride brand, creating systems, sharpening the marketing cogs, accelerating productisation, conducting Apperceptive workshops, blogging, and the whole enchilada of entrepreneurial hoo-ha, the world of Psychotherapy opened up for me at London. Finally, the awe and extraordinariness of experience began.
Alongside my business pursuits, I submerged myself in psychotherapy, existential philosophy, psychodynamic, humanistic and cognitive orientations and my clinical experience with clients being the most rewarding amongst them. I rejoiced in the aggressive isolation that UK winter afforded me to do academic work, a stark contrast from my earlier compulsions of football watching, frequent socialisation and diminishing the other in the pub with idle talk and chatter. My unavailability to a few friends took our relationship to the graveyard, a few mourned and moved on, a few are at the cusp of doing so as they are tired of tolerating my excuses which initially looked credible to them but now has aroused suspicion in them about my intent to ever get back with them. The ones who remain, form my present circle of trusted friends and I am deeply indebted to them.
Psychotherapy studies overstimulated my reflective capacities and revealed to me, my own most potentiality. I started getting tamed, there was emotional expansiveness and I pressed for more self-disclosure. Today Headstride stands fully pledged towards providing our most impactful workshops and services in the MIND space be it mental health, leadership, sales, coaching, all of which deal with transacting minds. I am also experiencing a hint of contentment.
This self-referential narrative here is not to remain prescriptive or sermonise on your time, rather the idea is to share some of my learnings with you; my early hesitations, mistakes, conformity and risk aversiveness, perhaps it may kick start your journey.
So here are 5 cues:
1. START EARLY: I still haven’t got it all right, I am work in progress too and what arises in my mind with racing certainty is that formative education can offer exponential rise in standards and give an early trajectory but nothing is more powerful than nurturing our nature and pursuing our inner passion from a very early age in life. Stating thus, is riding the coat tails of a cliché, all of us know it at some level yet such definitive awareness and eventuating action is afforded to only a few. One must acquire inceptive education/training/coaching in the field that one is viscerally interested in and not pursue something just because the masses aggregate their interests to the popular, sustainable and lucrative. Never deprioritise learning, seek out for it. This was the mistake that I made before I founded Headstride. I squandered away precious time and it occasionally gives me the throb. I went with the herd and they repatriated their goodwill to me as I was in accordance with them. I simply went with the flow seeking a vertiginous ascent with no real distinctions. My London tenure, headlined by the pursuit of Mind based learning (Coaching, Psychotherapy, Leadership, Selling), has been most invigorating thus far, but I let too much time slip by before floundering into this explicit realisation. None of my assorted explanations will hold substance but since the past is irreconcilable, I can only hold it as a recognition mirror in front of me and move on with more commitment towards future possibilities.
2. FAITH: Fear holds us back; be it career, relationships, sports, music, people, pursuits etc. and that which holds us back will eventually re-introduce us with the same fear that will need to be dealt with later in life, at which point there will be lesser psychological and physical resources than what the present situation offers. Disempowering habits take away our personal freedom and then we speak about destiny. Let us conjure our new and desirous world by courting courage and faith now and not just by remaining hopeful. As Jim Carey puts it “I don’t believe in hope, hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire. Faith leaps over it.” A couple of leaps, I reckon, will do it, that will beget a habit of frequent leaps thereafter but unconditional faith towards one’s passions is a pre-requisite.
3. OVERHAUL: If the present journey, despite its longevity, doesn’t appeal to you, do not keep internalising your frustrations and remain in it. As The Beatles puts it, “Suddenly, I am not half the man I used to be”. Live fuller, find yourself and if not able to, re-invent yourself. Give up rumination, stop giving a journalistic account of past baggage, atone for past inaction, and begin to plot the onward path. Overhaul your skills, attributes, attitude and approach and seek out for the new, but only if you are passionate for the new. Don’t leave the trot of the familiar and gallop to the mundane. Find something really worth your while. Age doesn’t matter, bleakness of experience doesn't matter, lack of technical skill doesn't, just a well researched idea, conviction and unconditional faith, thats all that matters, the 'how' will emerge. If your profession doesn’t make sense, forthwith stop the staggering lies to yourself and with a sense of dispatch plan to reconstitute. J.K.Rowling said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”.
4. CHOOSE & MAKE IT HAPPEN: Mistakes will be made, regardless, choose. One cannot make a searingly accurate assessment of which area one will excel in. This is the basic structure that schooling works on. They have to expose us to many subjects till we figure out for ourselves, which is the one we like amongst them. To choose ‘the one’, we have to sift past innumerable subjects that seem to appear wasteful which burglarises our time. Life's subjects are many, do not keep rummaging for ever, choose one, work with it, keep tweaking and re-strategising till you get it right. If nothing works, choose yet again, and again…. As Led Zeppelin states, “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
5. ROMANTICISE RISK: Nothing worthwhile has ever been attained without taking risk. Garrisoning alongside safety and security may help you ride through certainty but to deal with uncertainty, one has to embrace risk. And uncertain, it is going to be. We are experiencing it. Hence, we have a solemn obligation to do so, if we seek new possibilities. There is no point being justifiably annoyed at the fag end of life, at having foreclosed possibilities and living to regret the missed opportunities. What is the point of then moderating behaviour to hide grievances? Raise the antenna and feel the environment now. Transition yourself from opinions such as ‘this is too risky’ while standing outside the risk and maturate it to assertions such as ‘it is scary, but what the heck’ by being inside the risk. As Pink Floyd puts it, "Don't martyr yourself to caution".
The above 5 cues aren’t pronouncements, the basal message is, let us not step into our passion after getting garlanded by near desperation. Let us find it now and initially nudge ourself gently towards it and then expeditiously catapult into it. The uninitiated may face extinction, or existential boredom, the only exception being one wanting to remain uninitiated and in bliss, i.e. just soaking up experience, which is also okay as long as there is explicit acceptance and reconciliation towards it. I do not mean ‘mad rush initiation’ into any tasks just for the heck of doing something or ‘rat race climb the ladder’ phenomenon. It must be foreshadowed with meaning, purpose, intent, joy and a playful ardour.