18 Mar The four ashramas of professional journey
There comes a time when you grow out of your executive role. You cease to, driven by the need for relevance, like doing and delivering for others. You begin to dream of being an entrepreneur, led by the need to be rich. Not feeling secure enough to let go of your executive tools and implements and the mindset of a doer, you step into the world of entrepreneurship. You get off ground cool start-ups showing promise of multiple X growth but still shackled by the need to feel safe and be in control. Over time, going through the grind and nightmare of making your start-up work, you begin losing interest and start upholding your expertise – which seems to you to be the reason for being valued and remunerated. In search of reputation you begin knocking on the doors of B-schools and land jobs of visiting faculty-ship. Enough of wanting to be rich and taking mindless risks as an entrepreneur. You set off the respect and reputation you earn as an expert against the richness you let-go as an entrepreneur. Soon, you seem to grow out of your need to lecture and prescribe. You begin to realize that each one is on her own journey, carries the wisdom to make this journey and needs little of your one-size-fits-all imposed knowledge. You begin to realize that all they need is a bit of guidance, a bit of nurturing and a bit of accompaniment – a sort of enablement – for which your being around is good enough. You begin to realize that you have gotten over your fervor to be relevant, rich and reputed and seem to be driven by a need to revere life as it is. This is when, having come to term or resolved your needs, you are ready to be an enabler, doing little, being the individual you are.
If you notice, in your lives as well as in others’, there are these four stages or sojourns in a professional journey very much akin to the ashramas of ancient Indian wisdom – executive, entrepreneur, expert and enabler. You will also notice that, starting at an age of approximately 14, each of these stages last for about 14 years (Rama’s 14 years of wilderness may have something to do with this perhaps), thus justifying a professionally effective life span of 70 years.
While the first three stages happen almost automatically, the last stage, the stage of being an enabler, needs a lot of self-work and development to resolve the unresolved and let go of all that you have habitually clung on to. It needs acute awareness of who you really are, acceptance (with humility) of the assumed smallness that you carry and appreciation of your potentials and purpose. Besides that, it also needs an in-depth understanding and an integrated ability to ‘see’ and sense the human processes at work and be able to spontaneously respond to heighten systemic harmony. Above all, it needs a willingness to allow the principle of creation to prevail, without needlessly intervening and remaining oblivious to the impact that the power of your presence causes in your immediate context.
This, incidentally, is the stage I am in at present. Going through the struggle of being an enabler through and through, I realize the need to be around and accompany those who are also getting ready to transition to this stage. To my pleasant surprise, I see many who are cutting short the 14-years span of each of the earlier stages and get ready to enable. May be that’s a systemic design, for, looking at the environment all around, I sense a need for many more enabler who can commit to making lasting impact on growth of the humankind without being imposing and prescriptive.
If you sense a readiness to embark on the journey of enabling, a journey that’s only a journey and has no linear destination earmarked by assured compensations and / or column centimeters, I am ready to accompany you in your blossoming as an effective and impactful enabler.