Home > Ideas > Is there a Fire inside?

Is there a Fire inside?

Yesterday I interacted for an hour with a bunch of young professional – the youngest around 23 years old and the oldest just past 30. There were three Diploma Engineers and a MBA in the group. None of them could say which way their career is headed – instead of giving it their all this group seemed to be just marking off time.

It’s not as if they were bunch non-achievers – their boss, who asked me to give them a pep-talk, is somewhat happy with the results but is pretty sure that they were not trying hard enough. The basics were in place and there were very few complaints from the customers – steady state. But they weren’t willing to take the next step – there was no fire in them.

Two of them said they wish to be businessmen; so I quizzed them on their business skills and domain knowledge – they weren’t able to provide convincing answers. But both are waiting to create some seed capital before heading for their moment in the Sun – they felt that money was the key to business success. What irked me most was their lack of enthusiasm. They weren’t excited when I said there are low cost ways to test their business acumen. My suggestion was that since they are so passionate about business why don’t they meet the owner of a store in the neighborhood and propose to sell his stock for a commission – or make the same pitch to their current boss. I said most big businessmen started that way and slowly worked their way up. The idea did not make a mark with them. These young Turks want to create a pile of cash for investment before they get started.

I asked the others what their goals are and heading the IT Department a big company was their dream – being employees of  an IT Security solutions provider. I asked them about the new developments in the IT sector, more specifically about the advancements in the areas they worked in, and drew a blank. They do not attend any of the seminars that take place in town and none of them read anything on the subject. How did they propose to grow in the domain without subject matter expertise?

In fact not one youngster in the group had read anything other than the newspaper or popular magazines in the last one year. And this disinterest towards reading is not unique to them. I have seen this repeated in many groups of young professionals met in the last couple of years.

During my free – wheeling conversation yesterday I spoke with them about 3 things:

–          Knowing where they are headed

–          Preparing themselves for success

–          Being passionate about their work (A fire within)!

If you don’t have a plan you can go pretty much in any direction and arrive at your destination. So a plan is essential – I suggested that they write down where they wished to be 5, 10 and 15 years from today. Following that I suggested that they list down the requirements of those roles and how they propose to fulfil those requirements.

But above all that there is a need for a fire, a raging one, that is waiting to unleash itself and light up the world. Although this was a preliminary talk and a lot more needed to be done to get them up and running I believe that the spark needed to get the fire going has to come from within.

Do they have it in them to ignite that Passion? We’ll find out ……………………..  How about you?

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  1. Anantha Kumar
    March 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    97% of the just-employed or abt-2-b-employed candidates do know very very little (read as peanuts) abt what do they visualize abt themselves strategically (the remaining either inherit their ancestral business or at the most – start a very small avenue with a miniscule investment), during their professional pursuits of their respective educational traits and the likes. I wudn’t hesitate 2 include myself bcoz I hd been in the very same boat – around 21 years ago. Studies, practicals, examinations, results, next year – the wheel returns back. Creating a pile of cash – wudn’t it b wise 2 invest in a bank, which will surely give returns? The most important point, which these young turks r missing is: In what way shud I invest my time in, so that it can fetch a return, which is even greater than that given by a banker? The missing link on their thought process is “value of time” (instead of creating a stockpile of cash).. Perhaps experience, which they cud gain – by learning the hardway, will show them the path – but by that time, time value is lost and cannot be recovered back come-what-may!!! As far as passion is concerned, yes – any professional should have the passion to self-ignite the spark, which is lying within. For example, the GM of my present employer, has entrusted the task of designing projects in-house with the best-available brains in the business and I am proud of the fact that I am one in the elite team. He wishes to create a separate section for us (which is currently non-existent – both functionally and administratively). Invest today frugally and meticulously, harvest will certainly come out fruitful. As a professional, I do have the spark of being a change-agent also, by my constant learning, exposure to journals and articles written by world-renowned bodies and yes, change is the only thing that is constant in this world.

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm


      Lot of useful points and suggestions there. Congrats on your selection into the elite group and your interest in constantly updating yourself is heartening.

  2. March 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Hey Jay,

    This is just an impulsive urge.
    I am still a novice,but if anything has held me in good stead at all is a B Plan.
    It can be dynamic but it reflects the path that you wish to take.
    If one thing you wish to exhort urgently to these guys is, make them to write a B Plan.
    Do not let them off,until they make one and it is debated.
    That is the only way to get these guys to structure their loose thoughts and ideas.

    Maybe,I should write more about it one of these days.

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Sunil,

      Most definitely – a Plan-B is so essential. You are smart (and lucky) to have it in place so early. A lot of people don’t think about developing one or just aren’t aware of the need for one till its too late.

      But the availability of a Plan-B should not make you take the leg off the accelerator on Plan – A, nor should it tempt you to pull the plug at the first sign of concern. It should only be used as the last resort – when you get no worthwhile result in spite of your best efforts.

      As for writing, you expressed that wish when we met; what are you waiting for? Start right away – write a little each day if time is a constraint, but get going. All the best!

  3. Jamy
    March 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I learnt it the hard way!! Was a late bloomer, but ya seen it, done it and now am focussed about where I should be at age 50!!

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Excellent, Jamy!

      Better late than never. It must feel great to see your career going as per a well thought out plan.

      Like another reader, and friend, Sunil Menon has remarked in response to this article it is good to have a Plan-B in place – just in case steps listed under Plan-A aren’t happening at the expected time. It is best to be forearmed.

    • March 18, 2012 at 2:54 am

      I am a dumbwit. By B Plan,I intended Business Plan document.This is the most important document that gives a physical and professional form to your ideas, a roadmap to achieve your dream.
      Without a B Plan,you are lost and will never be able to help visualize or share your ideas/dream with future team,investor et al.

      All the best.

      • JayadevM
        March 18, 2012 at 5:20 am

        Don’t be harsh on yourself – self-deprecation is good once in a while.

        I know that you already have a reasonably good plan which is being fine-tuned by removing the niggles.

        Keep at it; you are ahead in the game now. Best wishes!

  4. Harish babu
    March 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I do agree jay. Now when I do interviews I only look for the fire in them, and sadly to say very few have it.

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Harish,

      Its sad. Our education system ignores this totally. However as Leaders, Managers and Coaches we have the responsibility to light that fire in the team.

      It great to note that you are focusing on this key factor while recruiting.

      Thank you for reading.

  5. March 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks a lot for that reminder Jay!

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you for visiting, Roshni!

      Am glad you found the article useful. Do create that Action Plan soon. Best wishes!

      Oh, btw, you have an interesting blog too!

      • March 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm

        My pleasure Sir! I am always in the half way I guess.. 🙂 Thanks for the wishes.. Encouraging writing of yours indeed.. 😀

      • JayadevM
        March 18, 2012 at 5:16 am

        Let this be the tipping point … Cheers again!

      • March 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

        Cheers.. 😀

  6. jocha
    March 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks a lot for the reminder Jay!

    • JayadevM
      March 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Jo,

      So when will the Action Plan be ready? And how come you and Roshni said the same words? Interesting! Cheers

  7. Sandipan Roy
    March 18, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Thanks Jaydev for again pinpointing to a core area that makes our ambition superfluous.I am no different from those guys.How can I get back that fire?

    • JayadevM
      March 18, 2012 at 7:29 am


      That you have been able to introspect and come up with an assessment – that is an important first step – I appreciate you for having done that.

      Let me quickly list down a few other steps – we can have a more detailed discussion about this at a mutually convenient time.

      I recommend the following actions:

      1. Allocate some time to sit and work this out – find a quiet place and avoid interruptions.

      2. You can also bounce ideas with a friend, parent or sibling … someone who is a good listener. It has to be your thoughts – don’t be swayed by suggestions made by others – it’s about your life / your dream.

      3. Write down what you really want to do/be in life; that which makes you most excited / you love doing the most. This is the Big Ticket – the Superordinate Goal. It can be more than one thing – but having more than 2 or 3 won’t be a good idea.

      4. Write down what you think are the steps involved in getting to the highest level in that chosen path – this can always be fine-tuned by talking to experts / others. Break the big target into smaller steps – doable ones.

      5. Knowledge/Skills needed to get you there? How do you acquire that in case you don’t have it now? This is the roadmap to get you there. Also list down the strengths you possess – what can contribute towards achievement of the Goal.

      6. Set up timelines for everything – you may not achieve it on that exact date but deadlines will get you working with greater focus and commitment (at least, it should!). It tells you about the progress you have made towards achieving the target.

      7. Find a mentor or a guide or an experienced person who can help you fine-tune this. But don’t permit them to change your dream or goal – they are only there to value-add to what you have created.

      8. Work on your goals with passion and don’t ever give up – you will find the passion and energy fading at time, particularly when things don’t go according to plan – but those are the moments that test your ambition – how much you really want it! Stay positive and motivated and be consistent in the implementation of the steps involved.

      9. Keep cross-checking with your plan – speed-up, take corrective action or recalibrate whenever required.

      10. Find someone who will give you a lift every once-in-a-while – or someone who you can discuss the progress with. It’s good to have a positive energy field surrounding you!

      11. Celebrate – this is an important step – even the small achievements – but just be careful not to celebrate too soon or too much – keep it real!

      Although I have put it down in steps the most important thing to make it happen is the fire burning inside …. how much do you want it? Unfortunately, neither I nor anyone else can help you ….. that has to come from within!

      So, start that F-I-R-E!!!

      • George
        March 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        Thanks for this, Jaydev, very insightful! I find myself wondering once in a while whether I’m really doing what I should be. Then some everyday issue comes up, thoughts digress, and a few months pass by. And that same cycle tends to repeat…

      • JayadevM
        March 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

        Hi George,

        I appreciate your honesty and that description fits many of us.

        If we aren’t careful things can rapidly go out of control – the Urgent can blind us from seeing the Important, We just go with the flow till there is no way forward.

        It pays to step back every once in a while and take stock of the situation. But let us have clarity about which way we are headed.

        Thank you for reading and look forward to hearing from you again

  8. Kailash
    March 19, 2012 at 8:28 am

    You have touched the great topic J……Thanks for adding fuel and light in our fire.

    About not having this fire in young kids now a days, it’s really a sorry state. In my last company I was given one fresher to work with me and it was my responsibility to groom him as well. When he joined our Pune location I was in Kochi for some project work and when I returned I saw one young stud, wearing jeans tight T-shirt, Big woodland shoes, seating on my desk with PC screen black, playing with 2 mobile phones, One was iphone and the other one was BB. And once I started the conversation you can imagine how it would have been. This kid came to office by Ford his dad has loads of money and this chap don’t know what he want to do he said may be an MBA will help him. I send him back to my manager saying he don’t need a job . This was an example of a rich kid but with kids from even average family background story is not different they lack the FIRE as you said and/or they have very limited vision where they want to go how they want to go. If they are writing Java or C++ codes they hardly know (or don’t want to know) what is the use of this codes, what the impacts on customer’s business process or app., how domain works, what is the end result of their app/code etc.. Our education system and our traditional parenting have giving a horse belts (with protection on sides of our eyes) which gives vision of one direction only so that they can’t get distracted. We parents and our education system shall give that pumping, vision, direction to our kids and once they are hired by big companies as a fresher they should give them a proper (non technical) training on this factor to groom them and mold them and make them an asset to the company instead of giving some technical training (which is purely project specific) and hand them over to the never ending game or Rat race in corporate world. Have you seen J how many our big bang companies are working or investing on R&D? if I’ll write on this it’ll become a blog itself. We will talk about it some other day…. 

    About me yes I am too one of those guys who keep shifting their goals I really need your input on this how to stick to our goals and pursue with the same.

    • JayadevM
      March 19, 2012 at 8:51 am


      Kailash, you really had a lot of woes to unload. But, good that it’s done.

      Yes, there is lot to work on … I have to repeat here that the challenge is for the Managers to take up … how can the give shine to these rough diamonds?

      As for yourself … its tough to hit a shifting target! Zero in on something fast. We’ll talk about it. Best wishes.

  9. subbu
    March 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Good write up.understanding these Gen Y’s can be a science itself.I do interact with a lot of these young things these days.Do theyhave fire in them? Yes i do think they have.Often are not channelled in the right direction.I think they need to be mentored by someone on a continous basis.

    • JayadevM
      March 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm


      I agree! Thank you for sharing that insight.

      I think Managers need to be better prepared to show the young set the way.

      Thank you for the appreciation.

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