It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. ~ C. S. Lewis
Transition and change is as natural and inevitable as the sun rising each morning and setting each evening. In the midst of my latest transition, I have come to value Indra’s counsel and her example. And so, I was truly honoured when Indra asked me to contribute to her blog.
My life has been one of transitions. As a six-year old immigrant boy from India, the snow and cold of Canada was my first transition I remember. Learning to fit in in small town Northern Ontario was a significant transition. Moving every two or three years across Canada for my dad’s job and going to three different high schools in four years were also transitions. I had to learn to adapt, learn to trust what worked in previous settings and learn to have the courage to change what didn’t. Sure, I was nervous; of course, I had self-doubts, major self-doubts; but at some point, I started to treat these transitions as an adventure and as a chance to reinvent myself – and then it got easier.
Going on to university and then grad school was a transition. There was no longer the familiar to grasp onto. I met my wife-to-be in grad school and starting to think as a couple rather than as an individual was the next transition. Moving from student to professional and then moving to England for a new career were other transitions that required courage and an appetite for adventure.
By far the best transition I have had to make was from husband to father. And in that transition, I have learned what is truly most important to me and to change myself in ways I didn’t think was possible. I learned to be much more patient, I learned to stop and watch a bird catch a worm or stop and smell the flowers.
Another job change and a move back to Toronto was a transition that made me think about what I wanted from my professional and personal life. From a professional perspective, I discovered that I was no longer satisfied with only personal career success but that I truly wanted to build something. So I took on a role where I was tasked with building out a new business line and building up a team. Learning to manage people, motivate people and discipline people with different personalities, different goals and objectives was a transition. And one lesson that I learned is that in this, as with all transitions, there is no map, no manual. You learn by doing, by making mistakes and by, hopefully, not making them again.
From a personal perspective, I wanted more balance in my life. So I try to spend quality time with my wife and daughter every day. I have committed to a healthier lifestyle and now get up insanely early every morning to go work out and I watch what I eat. I have nourished my desire to learn things outside of my professional life and I have become certified as a personal trainer and as a spinning instructor and kettlebell instructor. Why? For the first time in my life, I do this because I want to and I am interested in it, not because I expect to use it for my day job.
I guided my team successfully through the credit crisis and the challenges of the last few years. I held people’s hands, I soothed clients’ fears and I led with an energy and strength that was not always easy to muster. So when I found myself “made available” by my company a few months back, it was a roller coaster of emotions. I had been unhappy at work for some time and was thinking about a way out. But while I had left companies before, this was the first time that the decision and timing was not mine. Resentment, hurt ego, relief were some of the many emotional states that I passed through and, to be honest, still pass through at times.
A friend recently said to me: “There is no bad experience. Just think about what you can take away from what has happened and how you can benefit from it going forward.” The lessons I have learned from all of my previous transitions resonate loudly in my head: Adapt, trust what has worked, and have the courage to change the things that didn’t. The relationship I have built with my wife and daughter; the focus on my workouts and my non-professional interests now provide the familiarity, the stability and the support that I need.
What I have learned from Indra and this transition is that too often we take things for granted. We assume that we know what makes us happy, what is truly important to us, who is there for us, who lifts us up and who tears us down. I have learned that there are some truly amazing people out there who will go out of their way to help you even if they don’t know you that well. And the people that perhaps you expect the most from can be the ones that let you down the most. Learn to accept that everyone has a role to play in your journey – don’t try to change bit players to leading roles. Trust yourself, put yourself out there and, as I keep learning from my daughter, make sure you take time to enjoy the journey and stop and smell the flowers.
Is my transition complete? No. Have I mastered my emotions and approach the future with a zen-like calm? No (but I am getting better!). But, and perhaps most importantly, I know, with absolute certainty, that I will successfully complete my transition and that where I will end up is where I am meant to be.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~ Winston Churchill
Today’s role model article is written by Sam Sivarajan, a Toronto based global wealth management expert. He is a personal trainer and as an avid climber has trekked expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu and the Eastern Himalayas of Bhutan. Sam is also actively involved in local communities and has fund-raised for the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation and the Ride to Conquer Cancer among other charitable causes.