Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On "the dispassionate pursuit of passion"

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sure, but, it is not because I am an Indian-American that I see Indian-Americans everywhere! I open the latest issue of the Atlantic and there is an Indian-American: Anand Gopal has a lengthy and informative tragic piece the hell that Iraq is as ISIS recedes:
The Sunni refugees I met have little hope for a peaceful Iraq; whatever ideas they may have had about reclaiming their place in Iraqi society or undoing Shia-dominated rule have come unraveled, replaced by the most basic imperative of all: Stay alive.
And then at the magazine's website today, there is an interview with Raj Raghunathan.  Raghunathan, Gopal, ... I tell ya, not only Indian-Americans but the names suggest origins from my part of the world in the old country.  Trump can make all the moronic fun he wants to of the Indian accent, but beige is in, baby!

Raj Raghunathan is a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, who has written a book on an approach that will make people happy, instead of  the route that smart people seem to take in which "people may have a sense of what will make them happy, but they approach those things in ways that don’t maximize happiness"
which is to become a little more aware of what it is that you're really good at, and what you enjoy doing. When you don't need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing, and you're good at, and if you just focus on that for a long enough time, then chances are very, very high that you're going to progress towards mastery anyway, and the fame and the power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people.
Hey, the rational research that leads Raghunathan to these conclusions is no different from that old philosophical idea from the old country.  The one that is familiar to even the Hindu who could not be bothered with the old texts: "Let not the fruits of action be your motive"

Interesting how much we forget such fundamental aspects of a meaningful and happy life.  More from Raghunathan:
Ultimately, what we need in order to be happy is at some level pretty simple. It requires doing something that you find meaningful, that you can kind of get lost in on a daily basis.
Wait a second, I have been blogging about this for a long time and the management friend of mine did not help me monetize my thoughts?

Raghunathan has a valid point here:
In the big picture, the business world’s messages are a little jumbled. In business schools, I see that there's a huge push towards corporate social responsibility and finding a passion, but at the same time, if you look at the kinds of people who get invited to come give keynote addresses, or what it is that we focus on to improve our Businessweek rankings, it's things that are extrinsic. We invite people who made a million bucks, and we look at incoming MBA students and their outgoing salaries.
Exactly!  Whether it is MBA or undergraduate liberal arts, whether it is multinational corporations or otherwise, we talk one talk but then walk a completely different walk and end up valuing people based on the extrinsic measures like their earnings.  

Any parting words, Professor Raghunathan, on "the dispassionate pursuit of passion"?
There are expectations that if you achieve some given thing, you're going to be happy. But it turns out that's not true. And a large part of that is due to adaptation, but a large part of it also is that you see this mountain in front of you and you want to climb over it. And when you do, it turns out there are more mountains to climb.
Which means?
basically the concept boils down to not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes. 
Amen, brother!


Ramesh said...

I am afraid I am not in the same league as Raghunathan and you are. I don't know how to "tether my happiness" to anything .

Maybe Saturday morning blues, but I will pass on the philosophy of the post. No wonder, I am not qualified to be an Indian-American !!

Sriram Khé said...

Muahahahaha ;)

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