Brig Sushil Bhasin | Turning passion into profession
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Turning passion into profession

Turning passion into profession

An extract from my Book, “Design Your Life.” 

How to turn
work into an endless celebration 

Everyone has been made for some
particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every
– Rumi

You are the
most important person in your life. Walt Whitman, the American writer, poet and
philosopher, has tellingly declared that the whole theory of the universe is
directed unerringly to one single individual. That person, says Whitman, is
If you knew
your own heart, and did what resonated with your heart, you would have a great
career because work then would not be work as we know it. It would be one
intense and involved session of fun.
But, before we take this train of thoughts, let us answer a question.
Do you wish
to be a good learner of this university of life and design a life of your
choice or would you prefer that others – parents, peers, society, and experts –
make your choices for you? Would you prefer to drive the car of your life or
would you rather be driven?
Listening to parents, teachers, peers and experts is all very well but it is
your life we are talking about here. Isn’t it important that you decide where
you will take this car? All who wish you well will surely guide and support
you. However, what is it that you want? What is it that you desire? What is the
great passion that drives you? For answers to these questions, it is imperative
that you take a deep sea dive into your inner self and ask: what do I really
want from this life? 
The answer
is not easy. It doesn’t come instantly. It needs deliberation and deep thought.
And once you get this answer, please write it down. Paste it on the wall, on a
mirror or on your desk where you see it frequently. Keep asking that question
again and again till you get an answer.
Whatever you
decide to pursue, it is important to invest time in focused thinking to arrive
at clarity.
What profession should I choose? What career would suit my temperament? How
will my life turn out to be? 
These are
some serious concerns that confront every person who sets out to design his
When I was
in school, the two default career options were engineering and medicine.
Everyone and their parents wanted to be either doctor or engineer. And if you
were unable to take up either, you joined the Army. 
I went for
the third option. However, life was simpler back then. 
The scenario
changed. Even in 2003, when I was chairman of the Army School, Bareilly, a company
from Delhi visited our campus to discuss career options with students. There
were 144 careers listed. There are at least 10 times as many options today
thanks to globalisation, digitisation and the IT revolution. Also, today,
thanks to the easy access to media and the Internet, a student has an overload
of information on prospective career paths. Decision-making has become that
much more complex.
choices exist even for people who are in careers they do not enjoy or wish to
take forward. Such career detours are easier today than they were in the past.
However, before one takes any decision, on the career front one is required to
acknowledge that every choice has consequences that imply rewards we well as a
fresh set of responsibilities. 
There are many
factors one needs to consider while choosing a career. Interest, capability,
competence and aptitude are some that come to mind. However, there is one
element that should have overriding importance while choosing a career. 
Convert your
passion into profession and your life becomes a celebration.
Passion is
an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or a burning desire for something.
It is something you cannot live without. That is the intensity! It leads
to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion; a
positive affinity or love, towards a subject. Passion is something that you
love doing. It gives you pleasure. It is interesting and it relaxes you even
when it is hard ‘work’.
Jack Welch
calls it ‘area of destiny’, which is the very rich territory at
the intersection of what you are uniquely good at and what you
love to do. That’s where you should be building your profession. 
The catch is
that it is not always easy to identify your passion. Sometimes, it is hidden. You
need to put in efforts to discover it. 
Let’s move
on to ‘work.’ If our work is matched with our passion, life, as Godfather Don
Corleone said before he breathed his last, is beautiful. You enjoy your work.
There is no time for boredom and there is no pressure, just thrill. 
If we were
to break down our activities, we do in a day; it would broadly be as under for
most people:
Sleep – 7
Work – 10
Commuting –
2 hours
Routine work
like meals, bath and change, among others – 3 hours
Unforeseen –
2 hours
This shows
that for most people there is close to no time to enjoy life, except weekends.
Of all the above you will find that the only time you can consciously enjoy
more are your work hours. And if you convert your passion into your profession,
you are doing what you love doing all the time. A person in this space is
To students
I say, please convert tour passion into profession. To those who are already
working, “If you could not marry the girl you loved, please start loving the girl
you married.”
I know of
two brothers Rohit and Mohit who were crazy about video games when they were
kids. They would spend all their pocket money playing games, and would even
pinch cash from their mom’s purse for that extra bit. Later in life, they landed
a job in Zapak, a leading gaming company that needed people who loved gaming
passionately. The brothers were tasked with the responsibility of identifying
bugs in video games. They did this the whole day and worked overtime too.
Instead of spending money on games, they now earned out of them. 
Their hobby
is now their profession.
My son, Aneesh, developed a passion for photography while he was in Class XII. He
went on to make it a profession. I never saw him getting tired. He was doing
what he loved and would spend the whole night if it was necessary. Passion was
driving him.
So, the key
to happiness is to make your passion the driver of your life. When you are
passionate about something, and have a strong desire to achieve it, nothing can
stop you. The universe rearranges itself to create a conducive atmosphere for
what you seek.
In 2013, I
attended a workshop by John Foppe, a motivational speaker who was born without
arms.  He said something interesting about passion that struck me with
unusual force. 
He said that
passion by itself is not as strong as it is when added with mission. 
If you can
identify a goal, a mission, related to your passion, and drive towards your
mission with passion, you can create a great life filled with joy, creativity
and personal and professional fulfilment.
My son
turned his passion in photography into his profession. He pursued it for a few
years after which he gave it up to switch tracks and start his own business.
This is again connected to another of his passions – fine wines. 
nothing wrong with such switches. 
tracks in this manner and changing your mind is perfectly fine. The point I am
making is that he would have operated out of a space of greater clarity had he
added mission to his passion, and said, “In the next five years, I will be #1
photographer in India, or I will establish a record in the Guinness Book
of World Records or win five international contests in the next two
Success is
not the Key to Happiness
Happiness is
the Key to Success
If you love
what you are doing, 
You will be
Happy and Successful
your work day will take most of your waking hours. Design a career where those
hours will be filled with intensely joyful discoveries, challenges that are fun
to meet and people who add value to your life. It is this or long hours doing
stuff you don’t like, with people you would rather not meet and for creating
products or delivering services that you have no emotional attachment to.
The choice
is clear and it is for you to make? 

you up for the challenge?

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