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This article is written by  Suman Chatterjee Team LawSikho.

On January 15, 2009, Captain C. B. Sullenberger did what was almost impossible, or perhaps, immensely difficult to even imagine. 

He emergency landed a 50-tonne passenger aircraft, saving the lives of 155 passengers, safely into the Hudson River in New York City. 

It was supposed to be a complete disaster, and the fact that the pilot will be able to save the day was almost a miracle.

But was it a miracle?

What if I tell you that Capt Sullenberger was born to be a hero on this day? What if I tell you that this was no fluke? 

How can we predict someone’s greatness in a particular career? 

Are you meant to be a lawyer? Are you meant to work in a law firm or in the court?

Are you meant to use your talent in entrepreneurship or something else altogether?

Will you make it big in the legal profession someday or are you destined to only mediocrity?

To answer these questions, let’s look at the two most common pieces of advice related to it and what we at LawSikho believe in.

Some say pursue your passion and not money

Steve Jobs said, “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”  

Then Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

When the co-founder of 1.4 trillion dollars worth company and one of the world’s most famous philosophers and essayists tell you to pursue your dreams, you don’t question it. You do it instead. 

Steve and Ralph know best. So does my grandpa who told me how we, humans, usually feel bad for what we haven’t done more than we feel good about what we have. (Or was it Mark Twain? I am confused. Anyway…)

Think about it. If you are 30 years old today, you will be spending the next 30 years doing something repetitively, day after day, week after week and year after year. 

You will spend at least 10 out of 24 hours every single day. 

If you don’t love what you do, I don’t know whether you will regret not choosing something else, but you will definitely become frustrated to a point where every day would become a drag and you would want to leave your career out of desperation.

A 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness overall. Researchers found that participants who engaged in hobbies were 34 per cent less stressed and 18 per cent less sad during the activities, as well as for some time after.

That’s a very strong argument to follow your passion. But does it guarantee that you will be the “Capt Sullenberger” in your career? Nope.

Some say pursue what is good for you and passion will come

Cal Newport is of the view that you should develop rare and productive skills, and ultimately, you might find your new “passion” in that space. As per Newport, expertise precedes passion. Most anti-passion followers do quote Cal Newport from time to time.

But the point that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, says is far more important in my opinion. She says, “You spend a lot of your life having people tell you to follow your passion. It’s nice advice, it’s heart-warming advice, it’s great advice — if you happen to have one that is very clear and obvious.”

It might be that you do not have a clear and serious passion, or that you have a long list of “casual” passions—running, singing, dancing, martial arts, pencil sketching, coffee, chocolate, smartphones… Steve Jobs was not thinking along these lines for sure.

It must be noted here that most people don’t even understand the meaning of passion in the first place. Whatever satisfies or delights you is not your passion. Passion is what fulfils you as a human being.

A Stanford research paper focuses on yet another thoughtful point that when you say we have to follow a particular passion, it means that we have a passion, preset and fixed for the rest of our lives.

Therein lies the fallacy. We, as individuals, are always in a state of flux and evolving to someone else every second of our lives. Our choices, preferences and passions change over time. 

Let’s say if you absolutely love drawing today, can you be certain that you will continue to love it 10 years later? 

Neither a yes nor a no would be a correct answer to this question. On top of that… 

We are confused. We are bored. We are lost. We are insecure. We are distracted. We are random. Do we have the mind to figure out what we want? Maybe some but not many. We might even be in the illusion that we love something but in actuality, we don’t.

Tell me something, you might be practising boxing as a hobby right now. Perhaps, one hour in the afternoon every day. Rope jumping, punching on the bag, shadow practice… Yet all of this for fun.

Now imagine you have to do the same for five hours every day, for five days a week. Not only that, but there is also a bald-headed person smoking a cigar right beside your ring. 

If he is satisfied with your performance inside the ring, he might extend you an invitation to the prestigious tournament in the city. If not, you have to go yet one more month without a paycheck, like the last five ones!

Can you feel the pressure on your shoulders? Would you still enjoy hitting that punching bag every day? Would you still wake up every morning and wait to run to your boxing gym?

The point is, even if you are passionate about a hobby, it might not remain so once it becomes your “job”. 

As you can probably understand by now, following your passion sounds like very simple advice but it is not so.

We say pursue your obsession

Okay, back to our Capt Sullenberger story. The question was how we could predict his “greatness” beforehand. 

Is there any way to tell that you are going to make it big if you choose a particular career path? 

Yes, we can.

To start with, Capt Sullenberger was not just passionate about flying planes. He was obsessed with it. 

When his friends were after a driver’s licence, he got his pilot’s licence. 

His fun pastime was to fly glider planes that ran without an engine and basically landed on water. (Does landing on the Hudson river sound so far-fetched now?)

When he was young, his favourite hobby was to model aircraft carriers with tiny planes on them and took great pains to paint every last piece of it. Talk about attention to detail, huh?

When he grew up a bit, he worked as an accident investigator for the Airline Pilots Association and collaborated with federal aviation officials to work on training and methodology for emergency evacuation on aircraft.

Do you really think this person who was “crazy” about aircraft and flying all his life would not be ready when faced with such an accident all of a sudden? Of course, he will be. 

Not because he had been in such accidents before. But because the plane and he has become “one” by now. He does not have to think about what to do in such a crisis. He just knows. 

Still not clear? Let me explain. If you see a piece of contemporary dance and you like it, can you copy it if you want to? No, you can’t. As much as you like it, you would not be able to reproduce it right that instant.


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However, ask someone who has been practising Bharatnatyam since they were five, and you will find how easily they copy all the steps and reproduce all of them without a single flaw? It might take a couple of times, but you will see that they just know how to do it. 

Why? Because they are used to moving their body. They have already gained control over their nerves and muscles. Over the years, they have imbibed dance into their being. And now, show them any dance move in the world and they can learn it very fast. They have it in their blood by now.

When you are obsessed about something, you work so hard to learn and master it that it gets into your being one day. That’s when the magic happens.

How do you know that you are born to rule in the legal profession?

What would be Sullenberger equivalent for a lawyer?

This one is a very tricky question. Frankly, it’s very hard to know whether you are obsessed about something or not. Have you seen every courtroom drama? Do you even imagine yourself to be Atticus Finch or Harvey Specter? Are you a big fan of John Grisham and have all his books neatly arranged on your bookshelf? There might be a strong chance that you are actually obsessed with the legal profession.

Since you are subscribed to our mailing list, it would be further proof that you love reading about law too. It is safe to say that you are also either a lawyer or a law student. 

Do you feel excited when you find out about the existence of a new law?

Do you buy lots of law books? 

Do you like to sit in court and listen to good lawyers arguing?

Are you obsessed about ideas like justice, equality or freedom of speech?

Most likely, you have suffered injustice at some point, or you have seen your loved ones suffering, and you perhaps see the law as an avenue to make a difference.

You don’t have to be obsessed with law alone to be a great lawyer, maybe you are obsessed about arguing, winning or even pursuing bad people and send them to jail. Maybe you want to help men or women who face injustice.

Maybe you are obsessed about power for that matter. After all, successful lawyers wield enormous power, often. 

How can we help you to develop your innate talent?

Okay, we cannot bring the talent, the obsession inside you. That is something you develop, or not.

What we can do for you is, we can provide you with the right mentorship to help you nurture your talent and channelize all your zeal in the right direction.

We will help you figure out which area you need to specialize in.

We will help you hone your legal research and writing skills.

We will impart the practical knowledge and insights to take your legal career to the next level, whether you are a law student or an experienced lawyer. (Everyone needs that push from the back at times.)

You would be taught and guided by industry experts and academicians, who would not only help you learn new skills but also provide you with ground-breaking insights and ideas to apply in your legal career.

Live classes, doubt clearing, on-demand videos, printed study material… you will have everything to help you become better at what you are destined to do – be the best lawyer in town!

Want to know more about it? Give our career counsellors a call on 011 4084 5203 or comment below to this article with your phone number and a message “I need help with my career.” We will reach out to you.

Many of us have this notion that one needs to have this skill, and that skill, and that other skill too…to be able to excel at a profession. In essence, what one really needs is that burning desire to get something done.

Only then, the magic happens.

To your success.

P. S. LawSikho is running hour-long webinars every day. Want to learn how to improve your learning skills? Prepare an LLM application to a foreign university? Career opportunities in new, upcoming areas of law? Don’t miss these high-quality webinars with industry and academic experts.

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