"Corporate Sanyaas"​ - A step towards achieving the purpose of your life

"Corporate Sanyaas"​ - A step towards achieving the purpose of your life

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By Arvind Kamath

Advisor to Social Startups, Education Technology leader, Sociopreneur, Leadership & Career Coach


The word "Sanyaas" has its origin in Sanskrit, which means a stage in life where a man renounces worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicates his life to spiritual pursuits. When "moksha" and "karma" can find their way to the Oxford dictionary, will "sanyaas" be left far behind ?


I have coined the phrase "Corporate Sanyaas", which means a stage in your career when you have decided to renounce the corporate world. Though in my case this stage arrived after spending about 25 years in the corporate world, don't be surprised to meet youngsters taking this step after spending just a few years in the "corporate" world. The older generation had perhaps more patience.


The corporate world gives you a secured life but one that is dictated by the organisation goals, not giving you enough freedom to pursue a plan or an idea of your own. As you grow in the organisation, there is a sharp decline on the learning front with more reliance on others to help you with the tasks. In fact the chances of being replaced is much higher as the risks are low. You may even come across someone managing you, when that person has no clue on the domain he/she is leading. During such moments, the thought of "corporate sanyaas" starts kicking in ..... to do something different in life and to achieve something you always wanted to but could never attempt, thanks to the organisational limitations and boundaries.


The age old meaning of "sanyaas" meant the person leaving the materialistic world, seeking something for himself, which could be knowledge or salvation. The modern day meaning of "sanyaas" is taking up something that not just makes you happy but benefits the society, as well. The benefit could be something that helps a social cause or something that makes you the "change", that you wished to see in the world. I found my calling in 2015, during my stint with IBM, when I decided to take "corporate sanyaas" to become a sociopreneur.


Some of my friends and acquaintances, who wanted to follow my footsteps, sought my advice and I could only offer them these 5 tips:


1) Never time your exit from the corporate world. You may set a timeframe, which may never be honoured. Instead the whole thing happens instinctively and all of a sudden and sometimes backed by a trigger. I have come across friends who had planned to exit after 2 or 3 years and are still stuck in their routine world even after 5 years.


2) First be convinced of your decision to take "corporate sanyaas" and only then you can convince your family members. If you have taken the step half heartedly due to some compulsion, you will never be able to convince your spouse or your parents


3) For many, taking the plunge means breaking two of the biggest shackles - "EMI" and "Education of their dependents". This could become a never ending cycle since EMIs will continue as long as we add more assets or material belongings and waiting for the child to complete his/her education could slowly extend to the child also getting into employment.


4) Since you are taking a plunge into unknown terrain after leading a very cushy life, be ready to make a lot of sacrifices. Not just on the financial front, be ready to sacrifice the long holidays you enjoyed during the corporate stint when you had an army of people supporting you and your absence was perhaps felt more at the lunch table than at work. Be prepared to perform multiple roles with little or perhaps no help at all like the proverbial "Jack of all trades".


5) In the midst of this stage, comes a time when you may get tempted to go back to the safety and comfort of the corporate world while thinking of the luxurious perks you enjoyed then. The ones who succeed in beating the temptation are indeed a real "sanyasi", who is on his way to becoming a true "karma yogi".


As we say "there is no gain without pain", at some point in life one should experience "corporate sanyaas" to get the true and real meaning of life, which perhaps no MBA institute in the world will teach you. It teaches you to value a lot of things which you have perhaps ignored in life and finally discover the true "purpose of your life". A life which is less dependent on others and more about exploring your untapped potential or talent and experiencing the "Joy of Giving" while giving back to society.


About the Author:


Arvind Kamath quit the corporate world in 2015 at the peak of his career, when he was in his mid-40s. He served the Corporate world for more than 25 years, working for organisations like IBM, HP, Infosys, iGate, Ramco, Unisys etc.


Arvind’s passion for social initiatives, focused on education for the under-privileged and creation of livelihood in rural villages, got him associated with Shankar Mahadevan Academy Trust and Happy World Foundation. Currently he is the Managing Trustee of Sharada Educational Trust, that focuses on Rural Education and Women Empowerment in the rural areas.


He earned the Gandhi Fellowship, after attending an intensive program that focused on transformational leadership in the social sector, imbibing the values and principles of Gandhi ji. He can be reached on arvind@sharadatrust.org













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