Choosing the right flavour

Steven Rudolph

ice-cream-cones Most Indian youngsters have difficulty in finding a quick, easy, and effective solution to the one problem that is so fundamental to their success – choosing the right careers. The concept of ‘Follow Your Nature’ helps them realize that the secret of making the right career decisions is simply a matter of identifying one’s particular strengths and selecting streams and jobs that are in alignment with one’s inherent abilities.

To demonstrate the importance of choosing the right careers for today’s kids, I would like to give an interesting example of ice creams. In your parents’ days, ice creams were available only in 3-4 flavours – vanilla, strawberry, butterscotch, and chocolate. Similarly, when your father was considering his future, chances were that he had only a handful of job options at his disposal – engineer, lawyer, doctor, accountant. In all likelihood, he went to college, learned all that he needed to know, then got a job in a company where he worked throughout his life, and from where he retired. Even if he was not happy, he had no other option, and obviously, back then, rozi roti was more important than job satisfaction.

But today, kids have way too many ice creams to choose from – mango supreme, tutti-frutti, choc-o-chips, fruit cream, black currant,… the list goes on. As far as the jobs are concerned, new industries have brought new opportunities and loads of money. Professions such as interior decorator, fashion designer, animator, videographer, database administrator, radio broadcast manager, etc., are considered ‘hep’ and ‘cool’ these days. Traditional jobs of engineering, medicine, and accounting are ‘boring’ for today’s kids, just as vanilla and strawberry are.

Despite all this, most kids have a hard time choosing from multiple job options. Why? Firstly, because they are overwhelmed with the number of choices around them. And secondly, their parents want them to stick to the strawberry and vanilla, because these are ‘tried and tested’ flavours.

The challenge here has more to do with parents’ comfort levels of what constitutes a ‘safe’ or ‘reputable’ job. It is logical to believe that having a traditional job, such as a doctor or engineer is safe because there will always be sick people, and there will always be a need for people who construct and connect aspects of our society as engineers do. But then, it’s time parents opened their minds to realize the reality and figure out what makes their kid happy.

Kids too need to be guided on how they can make the right choice from amongst the available options. Even though that exotic ‘Chocolate- coffee Ice Cream Torte’ looks yummy, it might not actually be suited to your taste. Similarly, when it comes to jobs, children often get lured by the ones that are glamorous or celebrated.

Here, I would like to cite the example of a girl who was quite adamant about becoming an air hostess. She felt it was her ticket to travelling the world, wearing those smart dresses, and meeting people from different walks of life. Despite protests from her parents, she went on to pursue a course from Air Hostess Academy and eventually joined an A-class carrier. On the first day of her job, all dressed up and ready to fly, she was suddenly asked to serve water to a passenger. Lo and behold! All the glamour went for a toss! She realized this was not what she wanted to do; she hated serving people. Was there anything she could do now?

There are many such stories of kids who get into certain so-called glamorous professions, but later find themselves hating their work. We know it is not easy to back track. So, what’s the solution?

It is here that parents play a very crucial role in shaping the right future for their children. First of all, they should help kids identify their strengths and weaknesses using tools like the Multiple Natures Test. Next, kids should narrow down the available career choices to pick the best ones that match their natures. Going back to the example of the air hostess, had that girl analyzed that she was not Providing by nature, she would have understood that becoming an air hostess was not the right option for her. After all, a high Providing Nature is a prerequisite for this job!

In the end, I would like to urge parents to appreciate the special abilities in their children and give them ample opportunities for leveraging their potential.

The author is an American educator, TV personality, public speaker and bestselling author based in India. He can be reached at [email protected].

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