A man named David wrote me a year ago, and then again recently. He’s an avid reader of self help books and lives in India. The books didn’t work they way he had hoped. I asked if I could blog this exchange without using his name. He said it would be fine to use it. So here it is. What would you say?
From: David. Sent: Thu, Mar 6, 2014 10:11 am Subject: Career Advice
Dear Sir, I just read your book True Success (7 Cs of Success) and I found it really helpful. I also watched some of your videos on you tube. I am David, I am from India, 40 years of age. As far as I remember I have never been too ambitious and I have not found my true passion yet. I have tried several jobs and since last 8-9 years I have been pretty stable in a Sales job.
Last year in March I lost my job, but I didn't loose hope and found another job, but at a second level below my last position. ( I was working as Regional Manager handling multiple branches in a bigger area, whereas the current position I got was as Branch head in the same industry handling only one branch).
I got this position in the month of June 2013 but within a month I resigned as I could not feel comfortable going back in the hierarchy and it was suffocating as I thought it would take another 2-3 years for me to get back to my same position which I was in my last job as Regional manager. Whereas, my friends/colleagues and my juniors were at a better position. Even though the salary was good I didn't think twice before resigning as I was very confident in getting another job at my level, but this proved to be wrong as since last 7-8 months I have tried everything but not landed any job. (It’s good that I had a saving so I can still take care of another 3-4 months).
My confidence is also getting low as days are just passing by. I would like some advice from you so that I can implement the same and get my career on track. Regards,
To: David Re: Career Advice From: tomvmorris Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2014 11:42:10 -0500
Hi David! I'm glad you read True Success and have enjoyed it. A nice follow-up might be The Art of Achievement, which examines arts or skilled behaviors connected with each of the 7 Cs - and especially in times of transition such as you find yourself in now. It sounds like you're ready for the next adventure. I hope these books can help.
Remember in True Success there was a section about goal setting, and a suggestion about making lists: What do I like about my life now? What do I not like about my life right now? Sometimes, that can start creative thought about what you want to preserve and what you want to change.
I understand the frustration you experienced when you were running a single branch rather than a region. We all experience temporary fluctuations in our trajectories in the world. There are ups and there are downs. You can be a successful individual whether you are having success right now in all the ways you want it, or not. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You're sometimes running, sometimes walking, sometimes, stopped, bent over catching your breath or drinking water. Then you start up again.
When you lost the regional position and gained the local job, that didn't lower your value or worth. But I'm sure you felt a blow to your self esteem. It didn't seem fair, when others you knew continued to prosper, despite having no more merit than you. Almost everyone lives through this, and perhaps several times.
If you love the industry, I would take any job in it that allowed me to show excellence at that level, whatever it is. Excellence always rises, and you can't predict how quickly or slowly.
You are a young man. I say that as a 62 year old about to have a birthday. You have many great adventures ahead of you. Don't be afraid to start the next one in a small way. For a great soul, no job is small. You make it great. Then you expand your territory.
Difficulties easily erode our confidence. But the confidence that most matters always has to come from the fire inside you, the fire that uses obstacles as more fuel and grows from its experiences.
If that's the C that's the hardest for you right now, Confidence, then use the others to build it. That's the way the framework can function. The more you apply the other conditions, the more confidence will grow.
Don't be discouraged! Everyone has hard times. Those are the times that grow up and strengthen us!
I would network with others, apply for anything that would have looked interesting to the younger you, and prepare to expand the job to reflect who you truly are!
Let me know if I can help in any way. Tom Morris
From: David RE: Career Advice Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2014 22:55:00 +0530
Dear Sir, Thanks for the valuable advice. I would definitely implement your suggestions. All the best for your future goals and aspirations. Regards,
A YEAR PASSES
From: David Sent: Wed, Mar 11, 2015 8:34 am Subject: RE: Career Advice
Sir, I hope you remember the last conversation we had last year. Well I did take up a job after that, it was an educational institute. As my job is in sales I have to achieve the targets. After working there for 6 months due to non performance I had to quit again. Last month I got a job in the same industry but in another city. I worked for almost a month but nothing felt right from the day one. The bosses were rude and on top of it I was torn between family and job. I had not shifted my family to the new location. It was difficult and in the end I quit without even taking my salary.
You must be wondering why I am sharing this with you, sometimes a third person can be a good judge.
Sometimes I think may be because of reading of all these self-help books, where they tell you to go and achieve the stars, amass more wealth.
I started my career in accounts but then after reading such books I thought I was playing safe and may be I need to do something great. I switched my career to sales thinking that I would move the career ladder faster. As you know sales is a roller coaster ride. It’s a tough job and now after almost 15 years it is very difficult to change the careers from sales to some other department.
Now I have started to feel like a failure. My brother who is younger to me works in accounts. His organization has sent him to USA. He would be earning in dollars and that too at a steady job. The frustration is mounting. Will appreciate some good advice from you. Thanks in advance.
David from India
What would you suggest?
To David Wed, Mar 11, 2015
David: Could you tell me which self help books you've read? TM
Sir, Unlimited power, Awaken the giant within you, Think and grow rich, some books by norman vincent peale, psycho cybernetics, seven habits and more. Mostly books on achieving success and wealth. I think the more u run after success, success deludes you. I have tried affirmations, creative visualization, nlp. I have also tried listening to paul mckenna, and morry method, subliminal messaging, but it didn't help. I know some of my friends they don't know anything of this stuff but still they are successful. Well may be it would not be proper to blame self help books, but take responsibility and move forward.
May be I need to change my attitude towards work. I think inspite of reading all this positive stuff I have become negative. Like for instance in my last job I had argument with one of my boss on the second day. I started thinking anytime in future they will fire me. One more mistake and I will be out of job. At the same time staying in a new city, away from my family and spending on rent and food, and top of it having a hyper boss, the stress was unbearable and I just decided to quit and come back.
Now that I have come back I think, have I made a mistake, in this tough market I did get a job, should I be more tough mentally, should I have more patience, should I have the mentality of not quitting at any cost. Well I think this is the time for some introspection and action, so that I do not fall in this trap again.
Thanks for the time and yes your blog is really wonderful.
One more question what do you think of Ayn Rands philosophy. Few years back I was very much motivated by her books fountain head and atlas shrugged. Thanks and regards. David
To David Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2015 09:21:50 -0400
Hi David. This is a temporary learning period you're going through. Many good people go through such a period, and come out of it with lots more wisdom about themselves and life.
The self help books too often don't recognize that people have very different talents, and that the contours of success can be as different for them as their talents. Not everyone can be a CEO. What would the world do with 6 billion CEOs and no one else? Not everyone SHOULD be a CEO. Not everyone can be a painter, or a journalist, or an accounts manager. When the self help books tell you to AIM HIGH, they usually assume that it means lots of money, or an exalted corporate status, or outsized power. But why should everyone aspire to that? It makes no sense. Some of us have talents that are of tremendous value to those around us, but our culture doesn't reward those talents with big money. So what?
The best advice is to know yourself. Find what you enjoy. Discover how you can use your time and talents to benefit others, in however large or small a way. Then do that. The proper rewards will follow. And many of those rewards will involve your own self esteem, fulfillment and happiness. Why should success mean the same results for everyone who has it? Why should you have to be miserable to work toward someone else's view of success?
You have tried an experiment. And like most experiments, there is a sense in which it didn't work. But in a deeper sense it did work. It told you what not to do. It reminded you of the importance of family. It showed you what doesn't feel right.
I've written extensively about seven universal conditions for success. They can act as a checklist for a possible goal or job. Then, once you've picked the goal or job, they can support your work toward it.
When I tell people to aim high, I mean for them to seek to be the best that THEY can be, with THEIR talents and interests. A janitor at The University of Notre Dame was the noblest man on campus, in my view. He thought of his job not just as cleaning a building but as creating conditions for excellence. He was a custodian of souls. His friendly and positive energy lifted up everyone around him. Most of the people in the building had PhDs, but they went to him to talk about difficulties and hurts and challenges. He was in the right job to make his proper difference. It's too bad he wasn't paid a lot of money for it. But if he had been, he would have given it away to poorer people. Why is money the measure? It isn't. It never has been. It just sells self help books.
Use what you've learned on these recent adventures to launch out in one that's better for YOU. That's self help. Use your wisdom for your good and the good of those you care about.
You can start almost anywhere. As you've learned, some adventures are short. Some are longer. Each one can teach us. You're learning a lot.
We should never judge jobs by external standards. Jobs don't make people important. People make jobs important.
You have greatly important work ahead of you. Let me know how it goes.
Believe in yourself. Your ability to articulate your journey makes me sure that the future can be very good for you.
Good Wishes! Tom Morris