With 315 million students passing out of schools each year, India has the largest number of students in the world. 26 million students enter colleges and universities to pursue graduate programs.
That’s a lot of young minds getting groomed for life. This would be a good time to mentor them and put them in the right direction.
Here’s my advice to young minds who are on the cusp of going out into the big wide world and making big decisions about career, work and life.
What’s your golden skill?
This is a skill that
–You love exercising
–You are good at
–People will pay you for
So what is it? Is it number crunching? Is it language? Is it history? Find out what moves your heart the most. That’s where your passion lies. Now find a career that aligns to it and a good university to get trained. This sounds like an aberration doesn’t it? Most people ask, ‘What do you want to be?’ I don’t believe in that. I believe it’s a mistake. We don’t know what we want to be. But we know what we like doing, and what we’re good at. If we find work that aligns to that, we’ll maximize our chances of fulfilment.
Begin with the end in mind.
Set a goal for yourself, in about 10 years. You want to make your first million. You want to be a published author. You want to be a successful product manager at Google. You want to affect policy in issues of female empowerment. OK, good. Whatever it is – have a vision. Without a vision, you are susceptible to confusion. With a vision, you always know where you’re headed. On a bad day, this will keep you grounded.
Make a plan and stick to it.
OK, now you have your vision. Now it is time to create the path that will take you there. There are no two ways about this; you are going to have to work your ass off. I do not have anything new to add here and anyone who gives you shortcuts is lying to you. You have to find what you love, and let it kill you, to quote the badass writer Charles Bukowski.
Communication skills are an asset. Develop them.
No matter how exciting your vision and how rigorous your plan, if you cannot fire other people up about it all, you won’t make it. We don’t make it alone. We need people to collaborate with, in order to reach our fullest potential. Focus on improving your communication skills and interpersonal skills. They are extremely important in life and for career.
Learn and practice to be direct.
1. When you want something, ASK. Don’t assume.
2. If something does not add value don’t say it.
3. What you want to say something, speak up.
4. Say NO, when you have to.
You don’t need to be the CEO to be a leader.
You can be a leader at any level in life. To understand that, let’s look at what makes a leader. Vision. Courage. Initiative. Truth. Passion. Respecting others. Anyone who does this and makes a change in the world – however small – is a leader. So don’t worry about textbook and media definitions of leaders. If that doesn’t work for you, remember you can still be a leader. More importantly, remember that all these leadership traits can be developed. Some leaders are born. And some are made.
Have someone to tell you the bitter truth.
When we are young, we have passions but we lack the experience and the objectivity to know if we are good at something. It’s always a good idea to have an older friend or mentor who will tell you the blunt truth about your abilities. This is not about discouraging you from taking risks. It is very important to walk off the beaten path. But you should have the requisite ability. A good friend will be honest with you about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you can achieve. False praise is very dangerous at this stage.
Be positive and stay positive.
You become the stories you tell yourself in your head. Tell yourself you are competent and worthy and you will act accordingly. Tell yourself you are stupid and worthless and you will automatically make self-sabotaging choices. Hang around only with people who make you grow. Don’t hang around with people who waste time. Always aspire to learn from others. If you are smartest one in the group, get a different group. Your group must aspire you to become better.
Play a sport.
It teaches you important life lessons like teamwork and it keeps you fit.
Live and let live.
Remember you are not the centre of the universe. Everyone you meet is undergoing a struggle you know nothing about. Respect everyone. Make room for doubt. Don’t judge too easily. Make an effort to understand people.
It can be anything – drawing, bottle painting, music, writing. Creating art is an indirect way of learning the humanities. The humanities are very important. They teach us diversity, creativity, patience, compassion, and many more things. Learning an art and practising it at least once a week is a way of making your soul grow. It will make you a better person and that in turn will influence everything you do in life.
Learn to handle money.
Most people are averse to handling money. Learn the tricks of managing your finances from day one. What is PF? What is a tax return? What is an exemption? Should I invest? Where? Learn to be friends with money at an early stage. It’s the way to make more money All millionaires learnt the inside out of money at a young age.
Don’t struggle to fit in.
Don’t bend your rules in order to be accepted. If you do that, you will not recognize yourself one day. You may have lesser friends, but that’s okay. Don’t try to fit in. You don’t belong everywhere you fit in. Be wise in choosing what you will be a part of. It is going to shape your future.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a Life coach and Leadership coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Sandhya, a life coach in Bangalore, who runs a life coaching academy, can help individuals with a desire for change to examine their beliefs – or their ‘stories’ – and change them for the better, so they can achieve their goals.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.