Doing the same job day after day can sometimes begin to feel routine and unchallenging. It makes you wonder what you can do to keep yourself inspired and enthused.
I was in India last week to attend a spiritual camp with my guru, Swami Tejomayananda at the Chinmaya Vibhooti retreat centre, three hours outside of Mumbai.
Somnath Dighe, 34, an enthusiastic man who provides a private taxi service, drove me from Mumbai to the retreat centre and back.
We hit it off right away. In the six hours we spent together, Somnath and I chatted like old friends. I was struck by his passion for his work.
Through our conversation I learned what it takes to be inspired by your work…
Choose a field of work that inspires you
First and foremost, you must choose work that inspires you. Work that inspires you is in alignment with your innate tendencies.
Cars inspired Somnath and he loved the idea of driving from a young age. He began working as a taxi driver for a local cab company just before his seventeenth birthday.
Most people look for work that seems pleasant, or that will give them the material gains that they seek.
However, if your work doesn’t inspire you, you will get tired or bored easily. It will start to feel like a strain.
Although providing taxi services may not sound inspiring to you, it’s certainly a job that inspires Somnath. He told me that he is thrilled that he is being paid to do what he loves.
So, it’s not the type of work but how much it inspires you that counts.
Do your work readily and cheerfully
He drove the taxi for two years before joining a tour company driving one of their cars ferrying tourists around.
His readiness to help, honesty and cheerful attitude attracted many clients who asked specifically for him, and who also recommended him to their friends and family members.
After nine years, he had earned enough contacts and money to buy off the car that he was driving from the tour company. He then started providing his own private taxi services.
Soon his business grew, and he sold the car he had and bought a used SUV (sports utility vehicle) that now has nearly 450,000 km on it! He keeps it for short trips and just recently bought a brand new SUV. I happened to be his first client in his new car. So he was super excited and told me all about his journey of more than seventeen years.
Be willing to do whatever it takes
Life wasn’t easy for Somnath. His father died when he was seven years old. His older brother, who was only fourteen at the time, took on a part time job as a labourer laying down stones in the construction of roads. In India, much of this type of work is still done by manual labourers.
As Somnath grew older, he looked up to his brother as a father figure and role model who taught him his work ethic.
He told Somnath that he should be proud and grateful for any type of work that he was called to do—even if it meant cleaning clogged city gutters. And, in doing any work, he should give his full one hundred percent.
He told him that there is no shame in doing an honest job, no matter how lowly or menial. As long as he was willing to do any type of work, he would never go hungry.
And so, Somnath gives his all to his work. He told me he has no problem helping his clients in any way he can. He happily carries and loads bags and luggage, gives them useful tips and suggestions about where to go, what to do and see, and the best times to drive to avoid traffic.
He makes an effort to remember landmarks and city facts to help the people that he serves. I actually had to take a regular taxi into downtown Mumbai and used Somnath’s clear directions to guide the driver who seemed to be a little lost.
The best part about Somnath’s attitude is that he doesn’t help because he wants to keep his customers or grow his business, but because he genuinely loves his work and enjoys helping people.
Focus on the positive aspects of every challenge
I was surprised and laughed when Somnath told me that he actually enjoys driving when there’s traffic. In India, when caught in a jam in the crowded city streets, motorists often don’t stay in their lanes, weave in and out of traffic, and butt into each other’s way to get ahead. It’s truly the survival of the fittest—and Somnath loves figuring out how to overcome the obstacles in his way.
I can imagine others, who having to regularly face similar situations would get angry and frustrated. But even after seventeen years of driving, Somnath’s upbeat attitude helps him see the challenging aspects of his work in a positive way.
The people who choose to love all aspects of their work are the happiest.
Convert your work into worship
At Chinmaya Vibhooti I heard Swami Tejomayananda speak about a topic that he often talks about—how to transform work into worship and thereby a means to grow spiritually.
I shared the teachings with Somnath.
I told him that even though the quality of his work is superb and his positive attitude is commendable, he could make a small tweak in his attitude that would convert his work into a spiritual practice. He needn’t go to the temple to pray or do anything special.
He was excited to know how.
I asked him to see himself as an instrument of service, and God in the people whom he serves. Recognizing the divine hand in all aspects of his work, he can mentally dedicate all his actions to God. That would be his way of worshipping God.
Somnath immediately thought that was great wisdom that he could easily apply in his life. He was grateful for the teachings.
The divine provides endless inspiration
If we can live our lives and do the work that we do remembering God and dedicating all our actions to Him, we will never be depressed, unhappy or unfulfilled.
This is because as an instrument of the divine, you would not want to claim any credit or rewards for yourself. There would be no sense of ego, attachment or fixation on the results of work.
The divine would be your endless supply of inspiration and your work itself would be its own reward.
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