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Career lessons from India: Make the most of what you have

Adrian Klaphaak
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Published on May 7, 2014

I recently got back from two extraordinary, profound, mind-blowing, beautiful, soulful, intoxicating, (please insert more spectacular adjectives here), transformational weeks in South India. The people and the country touched me in such a deep way. Both have so much heart.

In the midst of delighting in a five-day Indian wedding, leading career and life coaching workshops at a remarkable school, and squeezing in some travel, I gleaned some powerful career lessons that I want to share.

This will be the first post in a series of 4 career lessons.

Career lesson from India #1: Make the most of what you have

Everyone in India is an entrepreneur. I’m not talking about their job titles. I’m talking about their mindset. They make the most of what they have. They don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, they fashion together whatever is available and figure out how to make it work. If it doesn’t work one way, they’ll find another way to make it work.

What I saw in India

  • 6 year old kids using size 10 rollerblades with buckles that didn’t work and ball bearings that could barely move… laughing, smiling, and delighting in the opportunity to play
  • A four-person family on a “one person” motor scooter
  • Homes made of tattered tarps tied together with plastic bags because scrap metal and rope are too expensive
  • 100% of the students at the boarding school genuinely excited about learning, sitting quietly and attentively and then participating wholeheartedly when given the opportunity
  • Businesses of all types operating out of storefronts (if you can call them storefronts) that are the size of bathroom stall

How do you apply this to your career?

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come to you. You have far more resources than you think.

Work with what you have and build it into something that gets you going in the direction you want.

Take it upon yourself to use what you have to create what you want. If you can’t do it the first way, find another way.

If you don’t have scrap metal, use a plastic tarp. If you don’t have a plastic tarp, use a garbage bag. If you don’t have a garbage bag, get one out of the trash.

We all get way too caught up in everything having to be perfect right from the start. That mentality creates huge barriers to entry into a path that fits. Start where you can with what you have. Focus less on looking good and more on getting experience doing the work that you want to be doing.

Why? The benefit is you’ll actually be doing the work that you want to be doing sooner than later. More than that, you’ll get to feel your own creativity and ingenuity and the fulfillment and confidence that comes from creating something. Confidence grows by taking action – by getting stuck, persisting, and eventually figuring it out.

Doing the work now is what creates the future opportunities that you’re dreaming about.

I don’t know anyone that stepped right into their dream without working hard for it.

You have more resources and opportunity available to you than you probably realize.

Start thinking like an entrepreneur. Start thinking like an Indian:) Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What’s one thing that you want to start creating in your career (or your life)?
  2. How can you use the resources you have to get that going (as simply as possible)? Think creatively and as if your survival depended on it!

If you’re reading this, chances are you have incredible privilege relative to the majority of the world. You have the opportunity to choose what you want to do with your life. I know we all have challenges and it isn’t easy to make a career change and continue to support ourselves financially but I’m also pretty sure that you aren’t making the most of your resources right now.

Forget about the material resources you have for a minute. How well are you utilizing the resources within you – your strengths, passions, and personality? Are you making the most of your potential in life and work?

Everyone has a path that fits who they are, that allows them to maximize their potential. Look to your strengths, passions, and personality type as the inner compass that will guide you toward the right career. When those three core parts of you are all aligned in your career, you’ll be making the most of what you have.

About the Author:

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.57.39 PM

Hi, I’m Adrian Klaphaak. I help people find a path that fits who they are and what they want. I work with people that want to build successful careers while doing something meaningful. I developed the “Career Pathfinding Program” that has helped hundreds of people discover their unique strengths, passions, and personality and translate them into a sustainable career. You can check out my website for more information at http://www.apaththatfits.com.

Adrian Klaphaak

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