Be Inspirational Not Aspirational
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Guest Post by Enakshi Biswas.
For those of us kids who grew up in the 90s in India, it was a time when our socialistic leaning economy opened up. Our dull markets full of white Ambassador cars woke up from its slumber with a wide yawn. The yawn big enough to accommodate imported cars, imported soaps, imported computers, imported tv shows like Friends which spurred the establishment of Café Coffee Days, Baristas at every nook & corner of our country. Malls sprung up by early 2000 to spew out more globalised goods. Designer labels. Designer dreams. We started dreaming more. Our aspirations fuelled by the glitz around us.
We no longer had to depend on the NRI uncle or phoren returned cousin to bring us goodies which we only read about in newspapers. We were our own NRI uncle! Our bucket list is long. FB & twitter is awash with friends who have completed 60% of the tasks in their bucket list. And that makes us fret. Display profiles on whatsapp are full of colleagues sky diving, scuba diving, shaking hands with the President. Hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle.( Thousand desires such that at every desire occurs another death)
Most of us grew up with our parents breathing down our necks. Maybe some parents were kind. Like mine. But I was still a rat in the rat race. Entire school life was spent chasing those extra half marks to remain at the top of the pecking order just to give wings to our dreams.
I aspired, you aspired, we all aspired while we slogged it at our Board exams, then IIT/JEE,CAT,GRE/GMAT,then we got ourselves jobs. But the aspirations did not end there. We were not happy working at our current organisation. We aspired for Mc.Kinsey, Google, Microsoft, becoming an IAS, even if we became a doctor-we aspired to become radiologists, neurologists.
Aspirations are good to have. It pushes us to reach out for the stars. But when push comes to shove. We wonder if all those self help books were impractical preachers which egged us on to take the path less travelled. Many or rather most of my friends have either gone the Start-up way or planning to put in their papers and start their own venture. We are that pack that has some years of work experience behind us doing the same old 9-6 job or worse. Then there are those restless souls who straight away dabbled in their own start ups. Its about listening to our heart, we tell ourselves. Who wants to report to a boss every day of their lives? Most have horrible bosses anyway.
Aspirations. Aspirations. Aspirations.
Its made us money minded. But that’s not bad either. We save, we invest, we build assets like house, car, we globe trot. We take selfies at the Eiffel tower. We hashtag ourselves at the Oktober fest.
Our love life is full of aspirations too .We aspire for hot partners.Some get what they are looking for.Some don’t. Now there’s a Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to the whole aspirations bit. The good side and the bad side. If our aspirations are mostly centre around materialistic desires, then that’s like a head full of lice . There’s an on & off itching that goes on with no respite. Money will never seem sufficient. Our current job. Our Current partner. Nothing will measure up to our aspirations.
But there’s a pretty picture that can be drawn too. The aspirational couples who aspire to build a team together, who monetize their hobbies, their passions,their dreams. We see couples giving up their jobs to travel and then pen down their memoirs or run blogs or just come back with memories that solidifies their relationship for a lifetime. Then there are the aspirational friends who partner together to start a business together. There are aspirational father-son duos or mother-daughter duos or siblings pairing up- that may or may not turn what they are good at, into lucrative business but they may be doing a greater good to society. Like that mother daughter duo who started off by stitching old pieces of clothes to distribute to the poor but social media caught on & the rest is history.
Aspiration is a good serpent to keep as a pet in the era of social media where good things can go viral and bring prosperity. Why only prosperity? It brings in recognition which we humans crave more as it makes us feel worthwhile.
So where’s the catch? Well, ask your selves. I will confess, my aspirations were always driven by goals. And when you don’t achieve your goals, you hit a low so low that it becomes difficult to recover. I also had deadlines. I wanted to have visited x countries by x years. That never happened either. If people advise you to Live in the moment. You ask yourself, have I earned enough to be able to let my hair down & just live in the moment. So see? These aspirations can often rob you of your happiness.
In your love life, your partner may not be the aspirational kind. He or she may just want to be himself or herself. Your aspirations might push them away.
So what do we do? By default we are competitive and that makes us aspirational. Maybe we should replace it with being inspirational?
Whats the difference? Being aspirational is personal, very individualistic. Being inspirational is for the good of everyone, it is inclusive.
You cant impose your aspirations on your partner, but you can inspire him/her. You aspire to achieve something, maybe your partner does not share that same dream. Is achieving that dream/goal more important or being with your partner? Depending on your priority, you get to choose. We can only succeed in inspiring another individual to do something which is inclusive, which includes that person’s interests. Some people don’t like to step out of their comfort zones and an Inspirational person is mindful of that. We can gently nudge our partner to step out of that zone & try something new with us but if not, let it go.
An aspirational person aspires to have it all. Winning does not always make you the winner. An inspirational person knows it is better to be happy than to be right. So go ahead, lose that argument. We get to win your partner in the end. You do lose many of your arguments in front of your boss even when you are right,don’t you?
What is the common thread that runs through all the inspirational leaders like Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, MK.Gandhi, JF Kennedy. The list of noted leaders is too long to jot down. Those who inspire, gives wings to the collective dreams of people. It’s like the chorus in a choir.
Be inspirational for yourself. Join a meditation class. Learn to let go of Anger, feelings of comparison, of petty feelings. Embrace an Attitude of gratitude. It’s said God gives us more than we deserve.
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