This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO and Co-Founder at iPleaders.
Do you know that feeling? It’s like there are some great things you want to do in your life. Maybe you want to buy an expensive thing for yourself. Maybe you want to take a bit of risk and start a new company instead of working for your boss. Maybe you want to dedicate your life to music, cricket or something similar. However, your parents, wife or somebody else will not allow you. Maybe you want to do some crazy and bold work that will change the industry you work in, but your boss doesn’t approve of your plans. Hence, you never get to do it. You grudgingly continue with your life just the way it always was, and the grand plan just a daydream. It’s a lollipop that you suck on from time to time, but you will never do it because of your parents. Or wife. Or boss. Or the local politicians. Maybe someday….
Well, if you are waiting for permission from other people to take care of yourself, to take risk, to make art, to make world shattering movies, to be a champion, to be an iconoclast, to stand up and be counted, then isn’t that ironic? If you cannot face the people who love you, care for you, associate with you or hire you, and show them why you need to take that risk, or make a bold move or take that foreign trip or play cricket at the expense of studies, or whatever it is that you want to do, then who else are you going to convince in the world?
Why do people who wait for permission of other people do not take things in their hand and just do it? After all, didn’t all the successful icons of human history just do that?
Would Narendra Modi be Prime Minister of India if he didn’t run away from home to join politics, leaving behind a wife from a marriage that was forced upon him? Did he wait for the permission from his family to do so?
Did Gandhi wait for his wife’s permission and father’s blessing to start working with indigo farmers in Champaran and launching a satyagraha against the Government in a remote place in Bihar? I guess not.
Did Satyajit Ray wait for his teachers to tell him what he should do with his life? Which teacher could have told him to become a great filmmaker who will tell the real stories of India on celluloid?
When I told my parents that I want to be a lawyer, they were very upset. My father was disappointed like I have never seen him. My parents named me after the famous mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan. They wanted me to be a scientist. Or at least an engineer. A doctor would have been some sort of acceptable compromise. However, I refused to write even the WBJEE though they pleaded with me. I refused. They tried all the possible tricks in the books available only to Indian parents, and all of it failed because my clarity was not going to be muddled.
I was clear, I want to study law. I was clear that it is a good career and it seemed like the sort of thing I will like to train myself into. I won them over eventually. My father even paid for me to go to a tuition for law entrance tests. However, when push came to shove, I made it clear that I am ready to leave the house and live on my own if needed, but I am going to study law one way or the other.
When I decided to quit a well paying law firm job to start my own startup company, with nothing more than my last paycheck in my pocket, they were scared. So was I. They tried to convince me to work for a year or two more and save up some cash before I jump headfirst into the very uncertain world of startups. I told them that I am not asking for their permission, but I called to inform them of my decision. I told them I know what I am doing and I will be fine. They found assurance in my self-assuredness.
You may think that this is a matter of being old enough or successful enough to do as you please. However, it is really not. It is about whether you take your own decisions or look at others to give you permission. Does it really matter if you are young or old? I have seen young children do things without waiting for anyone’s permission. I have seen old people, after a lifetime of worldly experience, still waiting for permission from others to do what they want to do, deserve to do or dream to do.
I resolved this issue with permissions quite early. When I was a kid, still at the age of 14, I wanted to go for a trek. I wanted to take my sister with me too. My parents were mortified. They never went on a trek themselves. To them the idea that two of us, although with a larger group, will go through forests for days and live in tents was crazy because they never had this experience themselves. They refused permission.
Over the next two weeks, I and my sister coaxed, educated and convinced my parents, one at a time, until they were relatively open to the idea. Then we had them meet the organizers, and eventually won the right to go for our first camping cum trekking trip of our life.
Yes, even kids do not have to wait for anyone’s permission for what they really want to do. They get it, one way or the other. And there are lots of well qualified adults waiting on the sidelines of their own life because someone said no.
My father told me an amazing story. When he got his first salary (in the government job, at the age of 30, a job that he held till he retired at 62), he went and bought a pair of expensive shoes for himself. When he came home, his father (my grandfather) asked him what did he do with the money. When my father told his father that he spent most of it on a shoe, my grandfather rebuked him and told him to be a responsible person. His joy of buying the shoes he always wanted to buy was snuffed out, replaced with guilt. While I understand the pragmatism of that move, I believe this is why my father never spent any money on himself in the rest of his life. He does not enjoy a meal at a 5 star hotel today even though his children, relatively well off, would take him there if he finds out how much it costs. He just cannot appreciate expensive gifts. He lived his life as if he was forever denied permission to enjoy luxury in his life.
Everyone has a different story, but it is worth looking if you are waiting for permission in some area of your life. Or perhaps, maybe you are living your life as if you have been denied permission forever. We all have some of those. I was denied permission by my mother to learn dancing. She thought it will “ruin me”, whatever that may mean. Even today at a party if I see a good dancer, I feel a pang of jealousy, but I have never taken the initiative to actually learn dancing.
My mother is not around to stop me from joining a dance class. It is just in my head. However, it is much more difficult when you have to actually, formally, get the permission to do what you want to do. The key is to not wait for the permission for your action.
What are you doing to get to the yes? What are you ready to give up to get to the yes? To what extent will you do to achieve your dreams?
We meet, talk to and counsel many law students and young lawyers who want to be successful lawyers. They have really big dreams. They want to be top corporate lawyers, entrepreneurs, judges and movers and shakers of the legal industry.
However, when we ask them what they are doing to achieve those goals, they rarely have much to say. They are usually just following the usual law school flow of life, not really going to extra mile a day towards achieving their dreams.
If I tell you that we offer some courses that can help you to go that extra mile towards becoming a great lawyer, would you check it out? If I say it will cost a few thousand rupees and 4 hours a week of your time, will you be ready to go so far to make your dreams come true?
If yes, do check out onlinecourses.nujs.edu. You don’t need anybody’s permission to learn more, to acquire new skills, to apply them or to become successful as a lawyer. If you are really good at it, you will be hired. By employers, by clients. Why should you wait to become good at what you want to do eventually?