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Before I declared English as my major in college, I took a few business classes. And even though I didn't stick with business, in those courses I learned some crucial lessons I'd use my entire life. Perhaps the most important thing I learned in all of my college courses was an formula for success, taught to me by one of my favorite professors,Norm Nemrow.
Students clamored to get into Professor Nemrow's courses because he was passionate, fun, challenging and innovative. He was the sort of professor that could bring out the best in students and make them give their best because the students wanted to.
One day, Norm was looking around the auditorium at hundreds of young business students and said, something that would change my life. He said, “If you are here simply to learn how to make yourself rich then I would invite you to stand up and find your way out the door. You do not belong in this class. And that goes for being a doctor or lawyer or anything else. If you seek after a career just because you think you’ll be liked or seem more import because of it, then welcome to the beginning of misery. Instead, find a career based on something you love to do, even if it’s not the most lucrative profession because success revolves around this simple formula: Interest breeds excellence and excellence breeds opportunities.”
For me, more than mastering the use of gerunds and recognizing dangling modifiers like grammatical pariahs, this formula for success for success has been a polar star for me in my life.
If you wonder what an English major does as a profession, you're looking at it. I teach and write about yoga for living. Growing up, I worried that I'd always have to acquiesce to "the man" and punch a clock in some soulless enterprise, void of creativity, wellness, and personality.
But following Professor Nemrow's advice, while still in college, I became very interested in yoga, developed a level of excellence in the subject, and consequently have developed a fruitful career for myself, spanning more than 15 years, doing something I absolutely love, and with more opportunities than I can cash in on.
I suppose this is really what we are trying to learn in yoga, to learn to listen to our hearts and have the courage to organize our lives based on what we discover as our real priorities.
If you’ve ever been through a very challenging experience, gone through an injury or illness, had someone close to you die, even competed in a challenging race or something, you’ve probably had that experience where all the bullshit is burned away and what really matters in life is left gleaming like a seam of gold in the mountain.
Yoga can offer the same clarity, but through a presence that is practiced over time rather than a quick slap in the face (though if you’ve ever been to Hot Yoga your opinion might differ). Yoga can also give us the courage to help us direct our lives in the way that is meant for us.
May we all gain the clarity to see what really matters in our lives so that we might employ this same formula for success: interest breeds excellence and excellence breeds opportunities.
And may we have the courage to follow our dreams.
How you followed your dreams and found opportunities in the process? I'd love to hear your stories. Please leave a comment and share this post.