“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
There was only one thing on my mind as I settled into the window seat at the rear of the musky aircraft. Nothing was going to stop me from carrying out the premeditated deed; not the crying toddler, not the overly amorous young couple in front of me, and definitely not the curvy red silhouette at the corner of my right eye. After a sleep-deprived 3-day work visit on an island, regardless of the distractions, I was determined to sleep every single minute of the 2-hour journey.
“Chris! How’s it going old pal?” queried the towering figure standing over me as he writhed into the seemingly snug seat, “Long time no see!”
“Would have been better if it was longer,” I murmured under my breath as I looked up at the intruder and readjusted my eyes to the cabin lights after closing it for less than ten winks. Bad enough that my siesta had been thrown out of the Airbus A320, this was the last person I wanted to be seated next to in a restricted contraption sitting 9,000 metres up in the sky.
Besides having a brash voice and exceedingly self-indulgent, he was responsible for leaving me unemployed many moons ago. Instead of watching him being flattened on the runway, I was seated beside him and had to endure the most unpleasant two hours of my life. Note to the Royal Malaysian Police Force: New procedure to interrogate criminals.
R.K was my former employer and previously an entrepreneur, and as I learned on the flight, a serial one at that. The fifty-something Johorean has over the last two decades dabbled into various enterprises including IT software development, golf apparels, second-hand cars, catering services, and he even ran a reflexology centre. Yet, I ashamedly assumed from his presence on a budget airline, none of these ventures lasted long enough to make him wealthy.
Fighting off my heavy and contracted eyelids, I asked, “Were you trying out all these businesses in hope to find what you truly love doing?”
“Nah, I don’t believe in doing what you love,” he replied, “It’s all about the money. Where the money lies, I will go towards it.”
Over the next two hours, R.K, who is now employed as a marketing manager with an unfamiliar IT firm, explained at length his entrepreneurship disappointments, grievances with the government for the lack of financial support, and criticisms of the local workforce. It was always someone else’s fault, never his own.
“Are you happier now that you are working for someone else after all these years of struggling with your own businesses?” I asked.
He hesitated and sighed, “It’s not about being happy. It’s just a job to pay the bills until I find some other business to venture into.” I felt sorry for his employer that they are having someone whose heart is not in his job.
After being amongst the first passengers off the steps of the plane and rather absent-mindedly not giving him my business card, I found myself thinking about R.K’s career on the taxi ride back home. Personally, I have always advocated the need to love what you do and be enormously passionate about doing it.
Celebrated American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie once said, “You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing.” In R.K’s case, it was never the love for the businesses he started. As he confessed, “It was all only about the money.”
He figured that if he could “go where the money was”, he would eventually find wealth and happiness in his life. Sadly till this day, the former entrepreneur has yet to find either. As famed philosopher and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer opined, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you’ll be a success.”