May 23, 2011

Kings, Jacks and Noblemen: Part 3

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So for those of you who think all this racehorse mumbo-jumbo sounds a little egotistical and pedantic ( I sense a nobleman vibe here by the way; Just thought you should know), I haven't just decided to become a Jack and then champion their cause and applaud their apparent 'failures'.

I've done my time.

I'm talking from the experience of my journey of self-discovery. *I'm not saying that this racehorse theory is the way it is. As maturity and experience invade my thought process over the next few years, I might join you and laugh at how ludicrous this 'theory' actually sounds. (Read disclaimer above). 

So at the risk of boring you I'm going to give you a quick low down on the situation as it stands.

I was a prospective King like every other person who got good grades at high school. Everyone expected me to be a hot-shot banker or CEO at some firm. And that’s what I expected of myself. I knew nothing else, except commerce and finance. So I headed out of high school, eyes focused on the finish line. Graduated from one of the best colleges in India in Economics and then got a Master's degree from a prestigious university in the UK. And then secured the cherry on the cake, as it were, when I got a job at a big Swiss bank in London.

As is always the case with the finish line, life was good - on the outside. I had confetti in my hair, I had champagne in my glass. I was the celebrity of my family. I had fame, glory and the 'good life'.

But then I did the inconceivable.

I peeked.

I peeked outside my blinkers.

And it wasn't pretty. Because it set me thinking. And thinking, is the root of all problems.

Thinking leads to analysis. And analysis leads to revelations. And revelations lead to more thinking. Up to the point where you have enough revelations in your kitty (yes, I said kitty) to take a life-changing, future-defining, irrevocable decision.

This finish line isn't for me.      

I would have asked for a drum roll for the line above. But the truth is, that even though this decision is a Herculean leap into self discovery - it also set me on the most slippery and uncertain road in my life. A road, where the people who revered me earlier, were now chiding me. Those who envied me earlier, celebrated my fall from glory. 

And all I had was the knowledge of the truth that - That finish line wasn't for me.

The good news is that you eventually get used to the criticism and condemnation. You even get used to the finger-pointing and snickering. It's always there but Jacks develop 'Hippo skin'. Or seal skin, if you prefer.

 I don't mean that Jacks store fat. Then, I would have said they develop a camel hump.  

Seal skin is different. It has a thick layer of blubber under it which conserves body heat while foraging in cold waters; it insulates them.

That's all. Don’t worry, I haven't moved from a racehorse analogy on to a seal analogy.

I'm done with wildlife.

For the moment.

Once I had developed immunity from societal admonition, I then proceeded to draw my own finish line. So I got back to what I started with.

What would make me happy? 

I thought it was safe to assume that it wasn't a glamorous banking job in London. But that was all I knew. So I explored. Long story short I almost started a restaurant, went to chef school, dabbled in fashion design, poured myself onto books on sketching, studied technical analysis, forayed into product design, created a catalogue of the home accessories I designed, read a whole lot more than I used to, started writing, dabbled with spirituality and meditation.

After all that, I was exhausted. Obviously. I never said Jacks were super-human.

Okay, I'm sorry. That was a weak narcissistic moment. I am a part of a support group, if you're wondering.

You know that you're done exploring when you don't have a burning desire to explore anymore. Although most Jacks have a latent craving for new information of any kind- the marginal satisfaction of this new knowledge will be less than the marginal satisfaction of consolidating on the old. So, I'm faced with the following list of what I like to do:

Now, as weak as it sounds, I'm not an ambitious person. Whether that in itself is a good thing or not, is another story. (Watch this space for more… or make a run for it, NOW).

But when I look at each of the things I want to do, and then honestly ask myself if:
  1. I want to be Buddha?
  2. I want to be a professor at Oxford university?
  3. I want to be a designer at IKEA or Armani?
  4. I want to win the Pulitzer prize in Literature?
  5. I want to be like Gordon Ramsey?

I see my fist shaped heart, grimace in disapproval.


I love the financial markets. It, to me, is the most alive, man-made, place on earth. Trading tells you the stuff about yourself that your mom wouldn't know of. It reveals yourself to you, all your virtues and vices. Its an incredible disciplining tool and is packed full of life lessons- for those who are receptive enough.

Would I like to be featured in Jack Schwagger's new Market Wizards book?

Hm, that  would  be nice. It's not my finish line, though.

My finish line is that I earn a living, doing something that I love. And it gives me enough time to do everything else that I love.

Will it get me the Jimmy Choo bags or fancy cars? I'm not sure I want them.

I want to be happy. And trading will do just that.

Yeah, for those who are wondering how all that exploring brought a London banker to the conclusion that she wants to trade in the financial markets- the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Yes, I'm aware I used that in the wrong context. Thank you very much for asking.

The point is not what you do, but why you do it. The point is not to reach the finish line, it is to reach your finish line. The point isn't that everyone thinks you're happy, the point is that you ARE happy.

An excerpt from an article written by Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen:
'Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live everyday so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.'

The real disclaimer:
This theory is limited in scope to the current generation, more so, the group I call 'the children of abundance'.

I believe that it is a luxury to choose my own finish line. A luxury to explore everything that I did. A luxury to choose happiness, not survival. The previous generation wasn't this fortunate. They were all faced with one finish line, that they had no choice but to reach.

To provide for their family to the best of their ability. 

I think it's safe to say that they have reached this and gone far beyond. And it is because of them that this theory exists at all.

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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.