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Bitter-sweet lessons from the school of life

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

How to transform into a successful professional -

In simple terms, life is what happens to you after you have left the safe threshold of college life. A large part of one’s youth is spent in zealous efforts to get ahead academically. The dream of every student is to achieve a score that will help propel him or her right into a glittering career path.

The depth of one’s knowledge and examination scores help one get a head-start as far as getting the first job goes. After that, however, every day is a challenge – a challenge that is enriching, exhausting, fascinating, mind-blowing, disheartening and exhilarating, all at the same time.

Here are a few bitter-sweet lessons that will help you stay on top of the game.

Learn from everyone

No knowledge is futile and no information is small. In today’s world information is worth its weight in gold. It helps one speak with authority and confidence. Having insights from multiple sources also improves decision making.

Don't fear Failure

Failure is never the end. One cannot expect a 100% success rate in life. There are numerous cases of failure spawning success but a couple of well-known cases deserve mention. It is a widely known fact that Elon Musk wanted to develop the first privately owned liquid-fuelled booster called Falcon 1. It failed four times (at great commercial cost) before being successfully launched. Similarly, J K Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected twelve times by publishers before she found success. And we know how successful both these initiatives turned out to be. It is best to treat every failure as a learning experience in life and move ahead. Prod on and you shall succeed.


In this ever-changing world, many of the traditional jobs are being automated. Many career options we see today will be defunct in the near future. This also means there will be a wide variety of newer skills that will become relevant. Upskilling with a futuristic view in one’s chosen field can be a make or break for you.

Have a practical rapport with numbers

Not everyone is comfortable with numbers. I am one of those who disliked mathematics in its classical form. But I did, ultimately, make a career out of analytics. That is because, in practice, numbers tell a story as nothing else can do. And they surely don’t lie! Practical and logical knowledge of numbers and analytics gives one a different perspective on situations. Hence, whether you are a researcher, an artist, a chartered accountant, a sales professional or even a writer, it helps to make friends with numbers.

Always see it through

Being dependable opens doors to opportunities. If you are seen as a person who completes a project against all odds, new initiatives drop into your lap. And that enriches your professional career and knowledge splendidly. We all know why Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni were called the Wall and Mr Dependable, don’t we?

Have a hobby

Not everyone is lucky enough to earn a living through an ideal work profile. To keep yourself motivated and find a purpose in life, it is essential to develop a skill or hobby that you enjoy. It gives one a creative outlet and who knows, can be monetized someday too. Going forward, professionals are likely to juggle multiple careers and developing your skill level can be highly G. It could range from music, baking, art, social work and philanthropy, blogging, photography, trekking etc. These can be turned into professions at any time in life. For instance, Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry aged 40 where she went on to become a top designer. Closer home, many people like Shobhaa De, Bhuvan Bam, Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi and Falguni Nayar have made successful career switches out of their interests.

Be humble

As one goes up the professional ladder, one is tempted to take undue pride in the glory and respect the position brings. Many a time it can be a significant barrier to communication with the rest of the team. It can also isolate one socially. Most effective leaders are known to be humble. They are more approachable, get better support and performance from their teams and build better relationships with people.

Give it your 100%

No one is perfect but everyone can be the best version of themselves. Working hard plus working smart will always help you succeed. And don’t forget to celebrate every success, big or small.

Stay true to yourself

Getting ahead in the rat race at the cost of your own health, well-being and self-respect is not worth it at all. A genuine analysis of your strengths and following the path that interests you most is sure to help you achieve practical goals.

Now, armed with these mantras, go forth and conquer the world!


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