Responsibilities. Money. Keeping up with your classmates, colleagues or whoever you looked up to. Even if icons after icons and role models after role models tell you to follow your passion – your “saner” self drowns out the quiet, but insistent whisper that urges you to get started on your journey.

So you stay sane, and safe. As you have responsibilities, and need the money and show people who matter to you that you are successful.

But, is there safety in being a replaceable cog in a wheel that was made for realising someone else’s dreams? Even if you are told that you are vital, and invaluable, and you are rewarded  more than your neighbouring cubicle tenant, does the whisper go away?

Do you feel lonely – even in the middle of a party that celebrates yet another won deal, met deadline, or any of the other myriad reasons for drowning in booze and stuffing yourself with calorie enriched junk stuff – and take a moment away from the madness, to acknowledge the emptiness of it all?

Your story, my friend, is like that of the chained elephant.

Have you seen an elephant tied to a pole or a tree? The chain is a flimsy one – in comparison to the size of the beast.

The animal can, with one jerk, break the chain and run free. But most don’t break free, even in the periodic, testosterone induced frenzy that comes over the male of the species.

Why?  It was wired in its youth. When it was less than one tenth of the size it is now. When it tried pulling at the chain, but only hurt its own leg so badly that it gave up. It built for itself a mental model, that the chain was too strong. That to fight the chain would be painful. And worse, futile.

What are your chains? Are they made of rusted iron?

Like your poor grades in school? Or your lack of a master’s degree? Or is it tradition?  Some chains can be gleaming golden. Like the steady cash flow every month to take care of your lifestyle needs. Or the hotels you get to stay when you travel. Or the club memberships.

These chains became your master somewhere along the line. Now you think it is impossible to break free from this kind and loving and caring master. And that breaking free itself is stupid.

You have been told that you are good, but not suited for that kind of a job – that you cannot sell, you cannot close a deal, you can’t take the stress, you can’t, you can’t and you can’t. 

That someone else better would come along and make you irrelevant and insignificant. Unwanted. And that chasing dreams is like chasing a mirage – with pain, loss, suffering and the humiliation that follows the realisation that in the end, there was no garden, no water and no safety.  And then realising the futility of it all.

This is what these chains do. They induce fear, inhibition and, yes, lethargy. But, then will your fear help you on your journey to discover yourself? Will your inhibition help you create your magnum opus?  Will your lethargy let you have the discipline to consistently put in the hours to realise your dream and your potential?

Get rid of those chains – both iron and golden. How do you do that?

First, recognise them for what they are – shackles of a past that should no longer keep you from flying. Not because of your accumulated wealth, but because of what you have learnt along the way. Not because of your rolodex, but because of the honesty in your core relationships. Not because of your intelligence, but because of your integrity.

Second, learn from others who broke the shackles – their failures, their suffering, their anxieties, and the days when they were too tired to move on, but moved on anyway. People like Chris Gardner.

Like the everyday vendor you see at the train station. She can teach you business the way no MBA school professor can. The guy who sells momos at the street corner. Who has come a long way from his home in the hills to make a living. They  are your gurus. Find inspiration and motivation from them.

Third, build a support system. Yes, you will have a fan club. Folks who believe in you.  They have learnt from you. People you are grateful for, for being in your life. Seek their help – their time, their networks, their references and their advise.

Never miss an opportunity to give to this support system – not because of some reciprocal expectations, but to simply thank them for who they are.

Is it simple? Yes. But is it easy? No way! This path is a hard one – but a fulfilling one. And your chains would no longer be painful.

Note : This article was originally posted on LinkedIn

Ramesh Dorairaj

Ramesh Dorairaj is consultant, coach and an author. He has 27+ Years of Experience consulting for Fortune 500 companies worldwide. He has groomed 50+ leaders. Has participated in 2.5 Billion $ worth of successful deals.  He is a Certified Executive Coach at Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching, Certified Sales Coach and a Certified Proposal Coach.


Shenzhen Blog Editor