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« Most important business relations are personal ones. | Main | A Day In The Life Of Evergreen Pears »

January 19, 2018


FR Team (Comments in the original publication) Reposted

OK, so on this Reflection, I am going to take the Contrarian View (never done that before!). If we changed Jimmy Chin's profession to an ethical stock trader who lived simply, but did nothing other than trade stock and accumulate huge sums of money because of his passion, would we think of him the same?
Recall the Gospel story about the landowner who gave each of his three servants money before going on a trip. Upon returning, he found two took the money and did something with it, while the third did nothing (buried it in the ground). He took from the third and gave it to the other two. In life, we are all given various talents and are expected to do something with them and I would go so far as to say to help our fellow man and to make the world a better place and not just use the world for our own personal pleasure. In this case, the photographs bring awareness of the planet and urge protection of the environment, but without the photographs, just pursuing the passion, in my opinion, is selfish.
Posted by: Mark Dennen | January 11, 2013 at 05:35 AM

Long time no see, my friend. I hope everything goes well with you and thank you for this reflection, I really like it!
I just went to Thailand and Cambodia for one week in the new year holiday and made many friends along the trip. One of the things that impressed me is that one couple from Japan, they quit their job in Japan and go on global travel for 1 year starting from south east Asia. They will finally arrive in New Zealand where they have applied the visa for working/travelling freely. The guy does not know what’s coming to him and whether he can find a good job to make living after arrive New Zealand, although they have a plan I am sure. Like the movie said ‘Life is like a box of chocolate’, we cannot foresee everything that going to happen, but what lead us to take action is the inner passion and dream, instead of sitting there and keep thinking, because sometimes when you think toooo much, you’ll get negative answer and convince yourself not to take the action, letting the chance just pass away.
Posted by: JD | January 11, 2013 at 07:49 AM

Thanks.. Another great story….and gets us thinking…
Posted by: Malay Man | January 11, 2013 at 07:59 AM

Success is personal, or at least I'd like to see it that way for myself. Only I should be able to determine whether my life is a success or failure. Others may place judgment, but ultimately in the end, I own the impact that determines my happiness. Let others dictate for you and success may never be achieved.
Initially, when I hear of someone living their dream, I feel a tinge of envy. I'm not sure I can wrap up my work experience as neatly as Jimmy Chin's, a love so great where work is no longer work. But then, I look at my life and I see that what I may not experience in one area, I explore and live adventurously in others. It is my experiences as a whole that bring me greatest happiness.
This isn't to say that Jimmy Chin doesn't have other areas outside of his highlighted success, I'm sure he does, but depending on who I'm with the view of who I am and my successes vary. Luckily for me, I get to pull all that together as the whole me - my total success.
"Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get." - Dale Carnegie
Posted by: elisabeth | January 11, 2013 at 08:15 AM

I loved this one and Mark’s comment. Indeed two sides of the story
Posted by: best friend | January 11, 2013 at 08:23 AM

This is a very important life lesson, especially for our children.
As always, thanks for sharing.
Posted by: BHSC | January 11, 2013 at 08:51 AM

I have to reiterate Mark Dennen's point of view on this one. I attended a Jesuit high school, and the Brothers made us write the same thing at the top of every assignment we did for 4 years: "AMDG", short for Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam, Latin for "To the Greater Glory of God." It was a several-times-per-day reminder that every single thing we do, every day for our entire lives, is to glorify the one who created us and gave us life.
Supposed Jimmy Chin's passion had been to sample a different kind of beer every day? Just because he liked nature doesn't change the fact that the life he chose was fundamentally self-serving. If everyone did that, society would cease to exist.
Posted by: Thomas | January 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

The reflection is powerful…
What if Jimmy were not a Nat Geo photographer. Would we call him a bum?
Posted by: LC | January 11, 2013 at 01:29 PM

I am happy that this FR has brought a good discussion. I think the point is well said by Elisabeth that success is defined by the individual in spite of the traditional acceptance of it. I brought up Jimmy Chin and his success because it presented two extremes - from living out of a car to the success from his photographs.
The photographs (and this only my opinion) are not what has made him a success, it's the way he lived to get there. The same applies to anyone that pursues their passion whether that's starting a company, helping others, making a ton of money or even beer tasting. The thing from pursuing a life you desire is that you inspire others to do the same. But unfortunately what also comes is a scrutinizing and moral judgments passed.
Had Jimmy Chin not gotten any photographs published is he a selfish individual? I'd like to think that by pursuing his passion he would meet others along the way and he would inspire others even on that small scale. And internally if he were happy with it, who are we to place value or judgement on him? Biblically, Jesus pursued a position very different and apparently self-serving to the norms of the time. Judgment was placed and maybe that's where the problem lies - in assessing another person's worth against our own or other external measures of success.
That's why someone can make a lot of money and attain status but still feel unfulfilled. The same goes for everyone regardless of their position. You first must be alive, passionate, and energized before you can truly inspire others to do the same. To me the definition of success is a lot like love. You have to find it within yourself first before you can give it to others. And in my view that is the greatest way we can serve God and those around us.
Posted by: Rajiv | January 11, 2013 at 01:34 PM

“You have to learn to follow your heart. You can’t let other people pressure you into being something that you’re not. If you want God’s favor in your life, you must be the person He made you to be, not the person your boss wants you to be, not even the person your parents or your husband wants you to be. You can’t let outside expectations keep you from following your own heart.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
Posted by: JO fan | January 11, 2013 at 09:44 PM

The best way to serve God is to find your light and spread to others. isn't that what jimmy Chin did?
Posted by: Soul Searching | January 11, 2013 at 09:53 PM

It all depends on individual...nothing right or wrong...
Posted by: SH | January 12, 2013 at 07:19 AM

Perhaps the implication is that we might not be able to recognize Jimmy's greatness as a youth (before he made it big) because he did not follow the expected path. Yet he became successful. True, but we invoke the survivor's bias: we only choose to speak of Jimmy because he did become successful in the public eye.
If we say that Jimmy Chin is successful because he achieved fame via prize-winning photographs, then are we judging Jimmy Chin in terms of our own concept of success. If we worry that Jimmy, as a youth following his passion, is going to turn out to be a bum, that is also our judgment of Jimmy in terms of our own values.
Speaking in terms of the values of "serving God" may further be the bias of our society or religion.
Unfortunately that is what we naturally do, as individuals and as a society.
Jimmy became successful (in the eyes of greater society) because of his works, and we may rightly be impressed by the fact that his success is one of genuine, self-driven passion. But only Jimmy himself can say if he is happy with his life and his works. We have to define for ourselves what is quality of life.
I am reminded of an old story of a wise monk to whom came a man in need. The man wanted to know how to spend his days most effectively. The monk tried lectures and speeches, but the man would only fall asleep. Finally the monk took out his brush and wrote just 8 characters, which are translated as,
"No day returns again; A bit of time is worth a ton of jade."
Posted by: micro CEO | January 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM

A note from a longtime friend Vivek Dutta that we found worth sharing.....
"Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece on Jimmy Chin. Very true!!! Every one of us have some talent hidden within us and our parents often are not aware of that. Ideally we should follow our heart and create our own destiny.
I am sharing below another ‘true story’ that I also received this morning. I think it is looking at “Success” from another perspective in comparison to Alexandre Dumas.
Hope you like it."
It was a Sports Stadium.
Eight Children were standing on the track to participate in a running event.
* Ready! * Steady! * Bang !!!
With the sound of Toy pistol,
All eight girls started running. Hardly had they covered ten to fifteen steps,
when one of the smaller girls slipped and fell down. Due to bruises and pain she started crying.
When the other seven girls heard the little girl cry they stopped running, stood for a while and turned back.
Seeing the girl on the track they all ran to help.
One among them bent down, picked her up and kissed her gently
And inquired as to how she was..
They then lifted the fallen girl pacifying her. Two of them held her firmly while all seven joined hands together and walked together towards the winning post........ ..
There was pin drop silence at the spectator's stand.
Officials were stumped.
Slow claps multiplied to thousands as the spectators stood up in salutation.
Most eyes were filled with tears. And perhaps even God's!
YES.!! This happened in Hyderabad recently!
The sport was being conducted by National Institute of Mental Health.
All these special girls had come to participate in this event
They were spastic children.
Yes, they were Mentally Challenged.
What did they teach the WORLD.?
• Teamwork.?
• Humanity.?
• Equality among all.??
Successful people help those who are not as successful and need help; to them it is success!
This is really a great message...
Posted by: Vivek Dutta (posted by FR team) | January 12, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Great stories. They all illustrate the humanities within us; they are what make us human, human.
Follow the heart is also a human quality. Vivek spent 3 months travelling the world after retiring from TI. Anand took off to relax for a year after a great run at Altera and Farday. I took off for 3 months after 3 years at National. We all followed our hearts at least once to discover ourselves. I am sure we are glad that we did it when our journey end.
Posted by: Louis | January 12, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Dear Vivek Dutta and other FR readers:
Please note that this story of "mentally challenged" children in a running race is both inaccurate and highly misleading, suggesting stereotypes that may sound positive, but are on the whole may be viewed as condescending to people with developmental conditions.
Read the facts at link below, and please be careful to confirm the veracity of stories like this. No harm done, but just saying we should be careful about what hearsay we post. In life as in work. .
Posted by: Concerned parent | January 13, 2013 at 02:24 AM

I have to admit: as a parent, this is the worst possible nightmare. Imagine that YOUR son has mistaken his hobby for a career and has no plans to support his living with any income. In addition, he is risking his life on each climb, and, surely, the climbing routes would become more challenging as he advances in climbing technique.
On the positive side, Jimmy is doing what he loves to do. So, if he has no family to take care of, or no other obligations in this world, - why not to continue to do what he loves doing – as long as he can survive on his own. After all, very few number of Contrarians, -like he is, - can even become successful in their contrarian way of life.
When of I success comes and brings certain income along-he can even start a family!
And by the way, becoming the most popular bachelor is not a career.
Posted by: alex | January 13, 2013 at 01:58 PM

I have never believed that "follow your passion" excuses you from some fundamental boundary conditions based on your status as a child of God. You do not live to please others or meet their standards, you live to glorify God and to show appreciation for the gift of life He has given you. This means you have an obligation to give back, to serve, to love God above all and to love others as you love yourself.
The most telling point in the story is when Jimmy sells his first picture. His instinctive reaction is NOT "I now have a way to share my passion with hundreds or thousands or millions of others and inspire them," it is rather, "I now have a tiny amount of income and can continue to pursue my solitary and self-indulgent life indefinitely." His view of the world only extends to himself.
My view is that your life is a gift from your creator, and that you are in service to Him by your service to others.
Merriam-Webster says that Hedonism is "the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life." By this definition, Jimmy is a hedonist. God knows there always have been and always will be hedonists in the world, and by definition they don't care what I think of them. But I submit to you that there are millions of other Jimmy Chins out there, that most of them don't get lucky enough to get a photography contract, that they finally get too old to "pursue their passion," and since they have no family and no savings to sustain them, they become a burden on the very society they turned their backs on and refused to contribute to.
I have no tolerance for selfishness, and "pursuing your passion" is a lame excuse for such behavior.
Posted by: Thomas | January 13, 2013 at 09:26 PM

This is my first response to a Friday Reflection; I feel compelled to write because I can only see selfishness in Jimmy Chin and I don't think he should be held up as a good example.
Mountain climbing is a sport, a hobby, a way to enjoy nature and challenge yourself physically. It is entirely possible to have a life that is a contribution to society AND to participate in this hobby.
Jimmy got lucky - he is able to sell his photographs. To the question, "Would he be considered a bum if he didn't sell his photos?" I say yes.
I am lucky that my passions are raising my children, being a supportive wife, and community service. I am able to be active in my community and I know I touch people in positive ways. I am raising my kids to be passionate about service on a local and global level, to be goal-oriented, to make a difference in the world, to have fun, to get jobs that fulfill them, and to find healthy relationships that bring them joy. I support my husband in his career and in his other goals.
Two of my children will be leaving for college in the Fall. One wants to spend at least a few years being a missionary. The other wants to be an actor. These two dreams make perfect sense to us as their parents and we want them to soar! As with all of our kids, my husband and I have always told them that they can follow their dreams and we will bankroll them as long as they are doing 3 things: getting a college degree, living clean lifestyles and contributing to their fellow man. If they can't or won't do those three things my husband and I will know that we went wrong in our child-rearing.
Our family's goals are based on our deep faith and the belief that God wants us to do His work on earth, but most agnostics or atheists also recognize the need for making a contribution to society. By the time folks are adults they should have a grasp of how a truly loving and authentic person lives their life. I strongly disagree that folks like Jimmy should be role models simply because they are following their passion. Jimmy should be able to recognize the selfishness of living a life without contributing.
Posted by: Mrs. Thomas | January 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM

Was Buddha a Bum because he left his princehood and worldly things to find the purpose and Truth?
He spent years in forest meditating and searching until Enlightenment. He had no idea when he started what he will find or where he will end up.
Posted by: Ashok | January 14, 2013 at 08:26 PM

Perhaps we can add a few more bums and other selfish "hedonists" to this list:
- Steve Jobs. Dropped out of college and lived in an ashram in India years before starting Apple. Supposedly this bum also dropped a little LSD along the way.
- Vincent Van Gogh. Lived in boarding houses and refused to let his brother, an art dealer, sell his work. Was eventually put into a mental institution where people in the town reportedly spit on him as he took walks.
- Albert Einstein. Was expelled from school and teachers believed he was mentally slow and spent too much time sitting around foolishly day dreaming. His own parents thought he was "subnormal."
- J.K. Rowling. A single mom living on welfare who in the midst of her depression decided to write a book. What was she thinking? This bum actually had the nerve to write a book while sucking public funds?
There are many stories like these and yet these must be the ones that are the "lucky" ones. How dare we even think that there is the possibility of doing something similar?
See the thing is that we can't separate the process from the result. We like to do so and analyze the result, that somehow the outcome is an anomoly. But it's a product of the whole. Steve Jobs needed to drop out and travel before revolutionizing the way we communicate. Van Gogh needed to struggle in order to create his work. And Rowling probably doesn't write the beloved Harry Potter series without needing to escape from her tough day to day struggles.
I'm not a person that even begins to think I know what's right for others or what God wants. All I know is that these people, like Jimmy Chin, have inspired billions with their creations. We get to reap their rewards now because of the selfish actions they took to get there.
I'm not sure where society would be if we all dared to dream. To want something more. To believe in our "selfish" passions. Maybe if we all had the courage to do so there would be even more innovations, ideas, industries, and work created from selfish bums who dared to pursue their own paths. But it says a lot if we personally choose to focus and judge those that had the courage to take their shot, to fail, to keep on going. Those people to me aren't bums, but the very souls that might be able to contribute more than any of us thought possible.
Posted by: Rajiv | January 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM

I know it's a cliche. The way I look at it, the best way to judge the path you take in life is to imagine (in the final analysis) if you would look back on it with regret.
Which path leads to happiness and which path leads to regret? It depends on a person's intrinsic talents and passions.
There are many who would feel that their life would be wasted if they weren't healing the sick, others determined that their life should be spent ensuring there is justice in the world. (I suspect the majority of us would prefer not to have a doctor or a lawyer that cares only about status, cash, or external approval).
To me, a "Bum" would be someone who isn't seeking or acting on their true talents, regardless of whether they are in a Courtroom, a Cubicle or a Ski Slope -- someone who would look back and say, "I could have done so much more with my life..." or even "I wish I had tried..."
Posted by: Fred | January 15, 2013 at 09:23 AM

If I look at each of Jimmy Chin's experiences as isolated snapshots in time, then I can see how success can be viewed from two or more sides.
If as Louis suggests, I look at Jimmy Chin's experiences as a journey of connected events over a lifetime, then as Rajiv suggests, I can view success by looking at the product as a whole. Even then, my view is based on the lens through which I see the world. And my lens is a product of my personal life experiences at any given point in time.
I like to think that we are each born with an innate desire to achieve greatness. I also observe that greatness itself can be represented in multiple ways (Yahweh, God, Allah, Brahman, etc.) and that role models can be identified as case studies to help us achieve greatness (prophets, apostles, saints, mahatmas, etc.).
A limitation of our human existence is that we are always living in the here and now and that we can only connect our experiences going backwards to understand how we arrived at the here and now. Our journey towards greatness is a personal one and is a function of the circumstances of our birth, our childhood upbringing, and our choices throughout adulthood.
I should not consider myself a judge of any one person's choices or experiences though this can be very difficult when there is physical or mental harm to myself or others. I should only do an assessment to see how I can improve my personal journey towards greatness.
Posted by: California Guy | January 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Now this hit a nerve. Please Not Steve Jobs again
My younger son throws Mr. Jobs at me on a regular basis. He believes college is Overated and overpriced. He would rather enlist and/or join a Business environment- and learn "real life" skills than listen to some professors. He would rather work for himself than for anyone else. I would not dare to share with him Jimmy Chin's story.
Follow your passion- Sounds grand- but as a mom- am I ready to let him do it? What happens if friendly fire snuffs him out prematurely? what happens if "lack of a college degree" robs him of opportunities? Have I failed as a parent? Shouldn't I have known better than an 18 year old? So then who is culpable- if he does not achieve everything that he could have with his "potential" had he followed the tested and tried path?
But then I am the same parent that did not put the Fear of anything in my sons' heads. I allowed him to risk his life- when I allowed him to get a Motorcycle license, and I got him the MC. Then why am I chickening out now? My mother allowed me to come to a foriegn country for Grad school- going against all her in laws- who wanted to marry me off to some "suitable" guy. Was her risk taking justified- because- she was allowing me to follow my dream of further education and hence a perceived guaranteed bright future? Am I afraid of letting my son "not do college" because on this path there are no guarantees?
How do you chose which passion/conviction to follow or let follow? When is the "right" time to follow your passions? What are the pre requistes? Mostly I want to know- What should be a parent's role in this or should they be?
Posted by: Passionate and conflicted mom | January 15, 2013 at 05:36 PM

One of the most widely read book,The Alchemist is translated in 65 languages with 30 million copies sold. When Paulo Coelho, the author of this book told his parents that he wanted to be a writer...his mother responded "My dear, your father is an engineer. He's a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?" After researching, Coelho concluded that a writer "always wears glasses and never combs his hair" and has a "duty and an obligation never to be understood by his own generation," amongst other things.At 16, Coelho's introversion and opposition to following a traditional path led to his parents committing him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20.Coelho later remarked that "It wasn't that they wanted to hurt me, but they didn't know what to do... They did not do that to destroy me, they did that to save me." At his parents' wishes, Coelho enrolled in law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer. One year later, he dropped out and lived life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe. Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics for Elis Regina, Rita Lee, and Brazilian icon Raul Seixas. Composing with Raul led to Paulo being associated with magic and occultism, due to the content of some songs.In 1974, Coelho was arrested for "subversive" activities by the ruling military government, who had taken power ten years earlier and viewed his lyrics as left-wing and dangerous.Coelho also worked as an actor, journalist, and theatre director before pursuing his writing career. (source his biography and Wikipedia)
The Alcehmist was published in 1993 and the rest is history.
Here is one of the key messages from The Alchemist summarized by Anna Hasapi: 'those who do not have the courage to follow their " Personal Myth", are doomed to a life of emptiness, misery, and unfulfillment. Fear of failure seems to be the greatest obstacle to happiness.
It is interesting to see that Coelho presents the person who denies to follow his dream as the person who denies to see God, and that "every happy person carries God within him". However, only few people choose to follow the road that has been made for them, and find God while searching for their destiny, and their mission on earth.'
Posted by: alfredo | January 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

I really like the story and all the discussion. Thank you so much!!
But I think we are too serious about “success”. Does “success” really matter? To me, life is all about Taking Responsibility and Enjoy What You Do. When young, we have less responsibility and do whatever we want. We will be constraint and have less degree of freedom as responsibility is increased.
Jimmy is lucky to have full support from his family, so he had the luxury to enjoy his life skiing and climbing. When he expanded his interest to photographing, it’s no more a personal stuff – everyone is eager to show their great works to others. I bet Jimmy enjoy a lot when his pictures were shared and distributed via the global platforms (e.g., National Geographic). He does really well in enjoy what he chose.
Do I want to be like Jimmy Chin? My answer is no. I have responsibility and many other choices. Neither will I encourage my sons to precede the same things (I am still very conservative and would like to hold bigger opportunities to see my grandsons or granddaughters). But if they can show me their unstoppable passion, I definitely will step back and fully support them.
Jimmy won’t be happy without his family support, even he is a “successful” photographer. On the other hand, we will become machines if only responsibility but no fun in the life.
Posted by: Taipei Walker | January 15, 2013 at 10:17 PM

From FR team: First of All Thank You very much Mark Dennen for starting this dialogue, so essential for democratic societies and also for personal learning, clarification and growing.
Following is the note sent by Mark to Anand in response to Anand's note. We have now permission from Mark to publish it.
"Thank you for the note, but having read some of the postings on the reflection, I do not think it best I respond as I was likely get myself in trouble and most likely infuriate some of the the readers.

This idea of "following your passion" at first seems noble, but there are far too many who have followed their passion to the destruction of themselves and many others as collateral damage. For example, a woman desires to be a doctor, studies hard, gets her career, works selflessly all day, is great at her job. One rare night after a horrible day on the job, she goes out, gets drunk, gets pregnant. Now what does she do – follow her passion (get an abortion) or raise the child? Although an extreme case, this type of scenario (good for me or good for others) gets played out about every day in the U.S. and 3,000/day, the child loses to "something else". And how many people have been killed in the name of God? Voltaire's Cadide points of so many times how humans have done things "All for the greater good."

Strictly speaking, in my opinion, we are supposed to be following God's will and not our own. I think the phrase is, "Man was made to labor and birds were made to fly." I don't think it is supposed to be easy and it's not supposed to be "all about us". I saw one response, "whatever one wants, neither right or wrong". I don't believe this for a second. Everything is not subjective – there are obviously things which are right and things which are wrong, although many do not wish to hear it. And I would believe a person with this opinion, when they are wronged, would be the first to point they were wronged and want restitution.

Well, enough of my rant. You have a good day." Mark
Posted by: FR team (Note from Mark Dennen) | January 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

This is a great reflection. Passion can be for anything, who are we to judge anyone based on what they choose is right for them? It's interesting that we deem people selfish if they aren't "contributing" to society. Could that mean a teacher has the right to judge a computer engineer? Because the teacher is giving back, or contributing, to society. They work long hours to earn a salary thats barely liveable in the Bay Area. In their eyes, perhaps that engineer chose a selfish line of work. It's all a matter of perspective and it's not up to us to pass judgement.
For the Passionate and Conflicted Mom - Your concerns are correct and they are concerns of a truly devoted mother who deeply cares for her children's well being. When I was 18 I thought I knew everything, exactly how the world worked. I'm 29 now and have been humbled. I realize every day how little I know. Perhaps your son sees the return on investment for education is not what it used to be. Or maybe the idea of college seems boring because he thinks it's just another four years of high school. For me, college was about discovering who you are and finding new ways of looking at the world. It's where I realized I don't know everything. For some it is an integral step from childhood to adulthood. While others discover that on their own. I admire how you're handling it as you're looking at all sides of the picture. And because of that perhaps you and your son can find a compromise. I wish you the best of luck. You're a good mother.
Posted by: Analisa | January 15, 2013 at 10:46 PM

My thought:
Everyone has right to live his/her own live … it is unfair for us to apply the way we view life onto others. I do not agree with the comment that Jimmy is burning his life or selfish, he did work towards his dream … to him, exploring beauty of the nature, challenging his physical strength could be way more important than having more zero in the bank account or climbing the lonely ladder in the cooperate world. To me, although I do not have the same dream, I do respect the courage Jimmy has in pursuing his dream which may appear as “abnormal” in the view of others.
Life is short, we should not spend much time living others life …
Posted by: Friend from Penang | January 17, 2013 at 08:38 AM

@ Analisa- Thank you for your kind words. It is evident that you have grown into a sensitive, mature individual
It gives me hope.
At the end of the day....
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else. -Winston Churchill
Posted by: Passionate and conflicted mom | January 17, 2013 at 08:46 AM

Great discussions, learn a lot and i enjoy reading them. Thanks.
As a parent, i am very simple. i told my son that i dont measure his success on what his final career and profession is, whether he is a chef, teacher, engineer, lawyer, own his biz...I told him that at the end of the day, the most important thing is he is HAPPY and enjoy what he is doing.
That's what i guess most parents want their children to be right - "Be Happy" especially we all know that life is short (as said by Friend from Penang)!
Are you Happy?
Have a Happy Weekend! :)
Posted by: Student of Yours | January 19, 2013 at 03:21 PM


This is a good reminder and a great story. I am always torn between pursuing my passion and my obligation/responsibility to family. I think most people are in the same situation. If I were single with no family obligations, I would have no hesitancy.

I should have made my decision to pursue my passion prior to starting a family, but many of us do what is expected from society. Go to college, get a real job, start a family, retire, etc… This may be the starting point for much of the conflicts that we find within ourselves.


Great post that invited a lot of discussions. I have to say that Mark has some very good points.

Frankly, this reflection is not very profound. To begin with, Jimmy can’t be a doctor or lawyer upon graduation as he has to go to professional school first. He is left with only one choice. To be a “businessman”, I assume he is not trained in tech. If he has not already lined up before graduation for a business position, it would be very difficult for him to land a high paying “beginning” biz job upon arriving in the Silicon Valley. With the high cost of living here, he has little choices. He has to chose between his passion, climbing and living out of his car or a low paying but boring biz job (or if lucky an exciting but low paying start up job). A lot of idealistic/creative young people in that situation would probably chose their passion.


Lots of interesting points from multiple angles.
At the end of the day, who are we to decide if someone is "successful" or not. :)

In Dilemma

And some of us unfortunately just don’t have a defining “passion” – and do what’s needed, not sure what’s desired…


Nice one. Enjoy what you do _put your heart _mind & soul in what you like to do _ success & money will follow.

Humble Warrior

to each their own on what success means to oneself and how fullfilling it is to them... no national geo call- and this man is still a success to me!

There are different versions of success as well... for getting the national geo photo job, he acclaimed success from peers, success financial, success for the sake of this conversation of people who do not know him, a story that made it this far is incredible... There is also success that is fullfilling to oneself for doing what you love everyday... this man achieved both of these version of success


Wonderful reflection and perhaps people’s perception would have changed since 2013 when it was originally created. Mine has certainly changed.My daughter was given private education throughout and then after did her graduation and masters at LSE. As a parent we had very different hopes for her making her mark in the world out there but she chose academics and seeing her now progressing at a different pace could not have made us any less proud.

The world has changed drastically in last few years. I feel very few people would be able to not worry about anything and follow their passion. But No one can take away the education and humility from you. At some point it pays!!


Thank you for sharing, my friend.. and for always thinking of us with the stories you do share.
Wisdom is a journey, and you help many of us along it path.

Ex Rable Rouser

Great Post, Rajiv. Thanks for initiating all that dialogs.

Here is my two cents, “IMHO”.
Success is in the eyes of the beholders. My daughter used to tell me she flunk her class because she did not get 98% in the exam. A Monta Vista mentality.

Jimmy followed his passion and became “:successful” in whose eyes? Right on LMC!

Vivek, Anand and Louis followed their hearts and did something for themselves. Were they successful or selfish? Certainly had no monetary value (gains) in their cases.

Now about snopes, great resources to check fake news. Perhaps what Vivek quoted was not true, but stories like them abound. “Runners who helped each other after dramatic fall hailed as symbols of Olympic spirit —-August 18, 2016. CBS News”. The point is again, what is success? Do we have to “win” all the time? Then again what is “winning”. Those runners are winners to me.

IMHO, just follow our passion and heart. We only live once, we are all star dust in the last 14.7B years. You can certainly disagree.


This reflection is as a reminder to us, some 5 years after its original posting. Those of us who posted comments previously may now test the continuity of our own thoughts and values after a brief timeslip. In my life, much has changed, but I stand by my original comment.

Let me add yet another anecdote, this time from the story of the Buddha as told by Herman Hesse in his book Siddhartha. I refer to a later scene in which Siddhartha encounters a ferryman named Vasudeva, at a river. Vasudeva takes Siddhartha across, and Siddhartha is struck by the simple, serenity of this ferryman. Vasudeva tells Siddhartha about the importance of listening to the river, and Siddhartha comes to understand that life itself is a river in which all points along the river are connected and past, present, and future are also an illusion. Vasudeva, the humble ferryman, is completely happy and content in his life. He basically gives Siddhartha the key to achieve his own enlightenment, i.e. he takes the Buddha across. But Vasudeva is not the Buddha himself, he is not the one who gains renown or fame. (He doesn't land that job with National Geographic either). Would anyone dare to say that the ferryman is not worthy of respect? Or, would anyone like to argue that although such parables teach important lessons, those lessons are impractical to actually follow in our daily lives?

"Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying, "This for God and this for myself; This for my soul, and this other for my body?"
All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self." -Kahlil Gibran


Wonderful tale!
The bottom line is that it is what you love and choose to do of your free will!


It does show culture difference and thinking difference among different people.


Interesting and a spectacular story of Jimmy Chin. No doubt. But very difficult to evaluate the motive, the struggles, the encouraging break, and what really was happening. Especially after the equally interesting debate.

Probably, even if a person hasn't any idea of what lies ahead or even if things are not pre-planned and charted out in detail, if s/he has the fire to pursue something passionately and destiny eventually favours her/his fire, nothing wrong if circumstances fall into place. Even if the initial motive may not be truly noble, if it does eventually shift there, i don't see any reason to disparage the person simply even if s/he began out of immaturity, selfishness, obsession, whim, compulsion or madness. None of us has been mature right from our teens. All beginnings are not necessarily ubiquitous.

However, if after the success in the relevant pursuit begins to materialise, if I ignore ratifying the beginning simply because I am now too full of myself, i would surely need to look for stains in my image in the mirror.

My response may be taken at a discount though, for I have no experience as a parent!! :)


The point Rajiv makes in his reflection is one my peers and I have discussed for a while - the idea that everything we do has to have some sort of productive, extrinsic value to society, rather than intrinsic fulfillment for ourselves. I agree with the core of the reflection - as people who, for the most part, live under capitalism, we place a lot of value on productivity because we see ourselves as market actors.

I don't think following your passion and helping others have to be mutually exclusive - Johnny could teach photography or climbing to others, and a beer enthusiast might travel the country promoting smaller breweries. It's also difficult to help others if you can't take care of yourself, though one doesn't necessarily need to devote one's entire life to one's passion in order to do so. I do, however, acknowledge that following one's passion is a privilege that requires resources not a lot of people have, especially these days. I happen to be lucky in that I have both the financial means and familial support to pursue my own dreams.

A common concern among creatives in my generation is that pursuing art is a selfish choice when there are other, more pressing matters to attend to, but to quote a friend of mine: If there is no art, what are we fighting for?

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