To live your purpose, reinvent yourself often
- Sen has multiple interests but unlike most others, she has never allowed those interests to be buried for too long
- Sen does not think of her life in the boxes that I discuss as part of 'unpacking'
Mojo is the quality that fills us with energy, makes us more attractive to people and creates a virtuous cycle that makes us successful. When you find your mojo, you are in that wonderful space where everything about you is in sync. You operate from a deep understanding of self, follow your passion and believe you are working towards your purpose. A pretty tall order you may say and wonder whether it is possible at all.
Let me share with you an example of a person who has turned a lot of conventional wisdom on its head and has been exploring, finding and rediscovering her mojo, each time in a different place, through the years.
Pritha Sen, 58, who holds a post graduate degree in history, like many other educated women in the pre-liberalization days became a school teacher. Students loved her, her classes were in demand, yet she found something missing. She decided to explore beyond and trained to teach children with special needs and achieved some firsts in that profession. Circumstances beyond her control put an end to that career but she was not dejected. Instead, quite serendipitously, she got into journalism, discovering much that was happening in the world. Empathetic and equity-driven, it was no surprise then that she made a huge success of an award-winning page she launched on the social sector. That was when she decided to quit and join the development sector as a consultant specializing in documentation, evaluations and trainings. Clients agreed that her work was top quality.
Travelling for work took her to the remotest corners of the country and she explored the history, culture and food (an abiding interest since childhood) of these places. Soon she found the next level of her work, one that is the current buzzword in the social sector lexicon—sustainable livelihoods. She looked closer and found a gold mine in local foods, their histories and age-old recipes that told her about the communities she worked with and the ignored indigenous wisdom on nutrition. She recognized the next important milestone in her life and plunged into it to become part of a movement that is sweeping the globe—returning to one’s roots and identity with healthy regional cuisine. Writing on food developed as an aside and Sen had soon built a reputation as an authority and food historian. Today, apart from working with everything else she has in the past, she has been one of the forces behind the resounding success of a restaurant brand in two of the most competitive food markets in the country.
This may sound like the story of a confused person. If that were the case, Sen would not have been able to create so many successes.
Let’s unpack these a little more.
Sen is truly dancing in her mojo when she sets up new challenges for herself. She is not one who enjoys the task of routinely managing an established venture. She understands and accepts this aspect of her personality. Combined with the need to be the best at what she does, she has to stretch every time to rebuild her knowledge and skills, drawing heavily on the learnings from her previous experiences. She cannot be one without the other to create better versions of herself each time. One that is rooted in the sum of her past and the addition of the new. We know many among us who get bored without fresh challenges but still remain glued to the old and therefore, lose their mojo. They would be well advised to explore and find new challenges.
Sen has multiple interests but unlike most others, she has never allowed those interests to be buried for too long.
Social equity is a deeply held belief for her. And she weaves that into almost everything she does. Like teaching children with special needs or bringing the social sector into focus in mainstream media or hiring young talented cooks from small town, who need backing to make it big. Purpose is seamlessly built into all that she does.
Sen does not think of her life in the boxes that I discuss as part of “unpacking". She lives it in the questions that she asks herself when she experiences a persistent flagging in her interest and in making those difficult choices. She keeps finding her mojo every time she begins to lose it (and she does this because she is not afraid to reinvent herself.
You can too. It’s not always that you must have just one goal or that your purpose in life will become clear in the beginning. Push your limits, and like Sen, who found herself evolving with every change, you too may find what you are looking for.
Find Your Mojo is a series that maps the journey of people who seek out a new purpose in their lives
Sanjeev Roy is the founder of Bullzi Inc and runs Reflections—a programme for leaders to reinvent and recharge themselves