Recently, I came across a rather unusual TED talk video. I am a big fan of TED Talk videos for many reasons and I love listening to scholars and accomplishers speaking about various issues. This particular video got my attention because it was rude, aggressive and straight in-your-face kind of truth revealed in 15 minutes.
The presenter of the video is Professor Larry Smith, an Economist who talks about Why you will fail to have a great career?
He is right! Most of us do fail. And the reason is simply because we do not want to pursue a dream or a passion but rather go-with-the-flow. As a writer, I feel this video is all the more relevant because unless you have a big, fat advance cheque for your upcoming book, you are basically putting all that hard work and effort in an empty box which has no worth. When it comes to writing, either you are passionate about it, or you are simply not a writer. You cant force it. Certainly, there are workshops and trainings to master the art and get better with words. But the actual fuel that keeps the flame burning is passion.
As a writer, yes it is difficult to survive, pay the bills, answer questions, explain to your partner or spouse (if you have one) why you are awake until 5am and tell yourself that one day all this will make sense. You may see other friends and cousins your age getting married, earning a decent salary and buying a mortgage. And then you will doubt yourself and think why am I doing this? Will this ever lead to success? Am I a looser writer?
Professor Smith is right! Most people in the world do not follow their dreams or passion because they are lazy or they fear failure. To avoid humiliation, they find the least risky thing to do and go ahead. Dont you think, they are loosers? People who failed to find out the purpose of their life? People who did not do what they could have excelled at just because they feared downfall? So, the answer to the question in the last paragraph is NO- NO WRITER IS A LOOSER because you are following a dream and you must be proud of yourself for that.
Yes, big fat advance from a reputed publisher is delightful, but the lack of it does not make your ideas worthless. I call it the MBA Generation where we have turned noble acts of education and writing into money making professions. It is really sad that we have reduced priceless knowledge and scriptures to a product that can be bought and sold. I am sure economists would doubt my educational background at this point, but this is how the economy has worked and this is what pains me. Yet, I do not let it overwhelm me.
I began writing my first book when I was jobless, penniless and confined to bed with a chronic illness. Was I a looser? NO, because despite the obstacles I decided to write the book. When I told the closest of my friends about it, they wished me luck on my face but did not believe that I could actually do it. In fact, I wonder that as a child, I always was busy writing a poem or something in the corner of my classroom, at the terace of my home, without fear, and neither my parents nor any of my teachers ever asked me if I wanted to pursue writing.
India is one country where the only professions parents want their children to pursue are medical, engineering or chartered accountancy. Other than these, the recent education trend is the MBA. No matter what skills, no matter what interests, MBA is like peanuts, everyone has got one. From CEO to the salesmen at Big Bazar; every one is MBA! Interests in writing, painting, photography are only hobbies which do not lead to actual jobs and actual money- this is what children are told. And probably this is one reason why my teachers or parents never saw a writer in me! All the other kids who I went school with are medical doctors, every single one of them. Which is great; and also destined since their parents were doctors and honestly, the kids were not given much of a choice.
It is not just about writing. As Professor Smith says in his Talk, its all fine until the day when your kid turns up to you and says he wants to be a magician and you tell him that there is no money in the profession and then the kid says ‘but Dad, its my dream’! And you say,
‘kid, I had a dream too, but then you were born’.
‘kid, I had a dream too, but I was too lazy to follow it’
‘kid, I had a dream too, but I feared humiliation if I did not succeed’.
‘kid, I had a dream too, but I had to be “normal”,
‘kid, I had a dream too and I want you to follow yours, just like I followed mine’!
This is what life is all about. Only the one who does not follow his/her passion is a LOOSER! The world awaits and celebrates the birth of passionate people who actually move the earth and progress the society, generation after generation. The rest are just ‘normal’ people moaning about corruption and society. So, folks, who are you? It is never too late to pick up your passion and move ahead.
Enjoy the video here and let me know your thoughts on it. Share stories about your passion and struggle.