This past week I have been privy to an email discussion between K and his friends that was rather enjoyable. What started as an innocuous question on staying on the technical path vs aspiring to go up the management chain soon changed tracks into rather philosophical observations.
What the conversation did however was to stir old memories on how I defined ‘success’. We are all products of our environment. Growing up I saw my dad look up to people who worked their way up the ranks. My teenage years were filled with stories of men who worked on the factory floor along with him who then went on to build business empires. I also saw my mom eyes arch up when she heard of relatives being promoted or making a lot of money under the age of 30. It is not surprising that in my mind success equated climbing the corporate ladder and making a lot of money in the process. I spent a good many of my initial working years focussed on the ‘what’s next’ question rather than realizing a job done right and lessons learned would have propelled me further along the chain.
Well! all was not lost and somewhere in the past few years I think I have wizened up to the fact that success or not, nothing equates the joy of a job well done and that doing my best was more important than worrying what lay ahead. In the process I also rewrote the definition for success in my mind.
But occasionally I also wonder about the connection between early academic promise and worldly success. Specially given that growing up when and where I did, the failure to get into an engineering stream marked me for failure even before I started. Fast forward a little over a decade, I don’t view myself as a failure and I really do believe while academic achievement is laudable, also important are street smarts. Where does the balance lie?
These questions seem to weigh heavier on my mind of late given that I now have the privilege of applying these lessons to my daughters’ lives.
I know this post is rambling but then so are my thoughts.