No Chords Without Strings

Let me narrate three observations from my life, to share something that I have learnt.

The first is about my love and hate for the Tamil language. Till I finished high school, I learnt Tamil language formally. I loved Tamil poetry and the great literary works. However, I did not enjoy the aspects emphasized by the education board. They were Tamil grammar and memorizing verses from various Tamil epics. I decided to avoid writing Tamil exams, when I pursued higher studies. However, I realized that I needed to get through the examination system, including Tamil, in order to pursue higher studies, and I did. I came into a professional course and avoided Tamil language courses. Even today, I continue to love Tamil literature and poetry. I also realize that the grammar that I was forced to learn, makes me enjoy Tamil literature even more.

The second is about what I wanted to pursue in higher education and the package that came with strings attached. I chose the engineering curriculum. I was very happy that I don’t have to write exams in subjects like history, geography, and biology. Even then, the curriculum required me to take subjects like thermodynamics and material sciences – most unwelcome for me! . But they were integral to my plan of pursuing further studies in electronics. So gritted my teeth and cleared those ‘disliked subjects’. As with Tamil grammar above, I have developed a lot of interest in history, geography, biology, and material sciences. Now-a-days, I read books and watch many videos on these subjects. I find myself enjoying them and keep wondering why I did not like them in my early years. I may even take a shot at developing an interest in thermodynamics and material sciences – just kidding!

The third and final experience, I would like to narrate, is when I started on my first job – a campus offer in a multinational, hard to say no to. But imagine my disappointment when the I found that job was just coding to start with. Far removed from my love of electronic instrumentation engineering. But I continued – a reluctant participant in the company organized job-oriented training sessions and was completely at sea in commercial application development. Having taken up the job, I believed that I did not have a choice but to learn all that was needed to do well. So, I did. But another door did open and an opportunity to do systems and network programming showed up. I just grabbed it, really liked it and built it further from there. 

As a common thread in all this, I noticed that while I was pursuing what I really wanted to, there were things I needed to do – the strings – , which were not of my choice. Without doing those, I would not have progressed in the path I set out. In fact, in some cases, the very same things that I disliked, made me appreciate what I was working towards even more interesting and made me more broad-based and efficient. Also, only with the exposure and experience in different aspects/subjects, you realize what you like and what you don’t, what you really enjoy and what you excel in.

After years of doing a variety of roles, I realized what satisfies me most. It is creating high performing technical teams and rallying around such teams to deliver world class products. Even after many decades of refinement, I do find that there are aspects of my responsibilities that I do not enjoy. However I am less stressed about doing them. They are just some more strings and I am now adept in dealing with them!

So, for those of you who are starting out your careers and are disillusioned with some aspects of your job responsibilities, don’t despair. Don’t be stressed out about having to do those tasks. Pause and reflect on your life and you will see patterns like what I have shared. You may discover some things which you see today as strings are actually not so in retrospect – they may actually be guide wires in your development.  

Remember Yin and Yang ☯☯

Remember the direction and the journey are more important than goals and achievements, in career and in life.

What do you think?

2 Responses

  1. Nice one, Gopal
    One of the tips I got from my father was to be actively engaged in more than one interest at a time.
    As everything comes with strings, if some strings tend to pull you down at time, there are other interests that would lift you up..
    I have found that it works and has been useful in many occasions.

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