If a giant panda can become a mighty kung-fu warrior - so could you. Not kung-fu, but whatever. Ballet dancer, arctic explorer or investment banker.
I can already hear you say,"Hey, that happens only in the movies."
Well, yes and no. Here are some definite takeaways from Kung fu Panda, for all those of you struggling with questions of what, where and how to steer your career.
Lesson # 1: If you want something badly enough, you get it somehow.
Po the panda wanted to be a kung-fu warrior really really badly. He followed every kung fu teacher, every battle, every hero there ever was. The chap was a walking Kung Fu Encyclopedia!
And of course, he dreamt about kung fu too.
Ask yourself - do you care something in your life that strongly? If you do - it will be yours one day.
Lesson # 2: It could take a while but you'll get there.
So if you believe Lesson # 1 the question is 'how'? Now sometimes you may get there the straight and easy way. The way to be a kung fu warrior is to train under a great Master, right?
Well, Po got the job another way. He bumbled and tumbled up the mountain and finally literally 'dropped in from the sky'. Master Oogway then pronounced:"He is the one, the great Dragon Warrior". To everybody's surprise!
In real life there aren't enough Oogways who can see a diamond in the coal; a kung fu champion in a blubbering mass of fat.
But how many of you have struggled like the panda to even get to that mountain top where there may be a Master waiting for you?
Lesson # 3: 'A peach tree will blossom into a peach tree. It can't become an apple tree...' - Master Oogway
Why many of us come to grief is we don't know 'who we are'. Are we a peach tree, or a jasmine tree or a cactus? Every one of those is beautiful and useful in its own way. No one is 'superior' to the other.
Yet in life many of us believe that we must all be peach trees. ie MBAs and engineers. The aroma of the jasmine is lost to the world and all we have is peach, peach and more peach (fruity burp!).
Lesson # 4: 'There are no accidents in life...' - Master Shifu
Yup, the fact that you did not make it to IIT or IIM or with that cute chick on the second floor. This was the way it was meant to be.
Think about Steve Jobs being forced to exit his own company in 1985. He went through hell but was forced to think of new ideas, new directions. It led to the creation of Pixar and a whole new kind of animation.
And ultimately, he went back to Apple with iTunes and iPod.
Could he have done all this had he never left Apple? I don't know. But I think greatness is born more out of adversity than in nice hot bathtubs.
Woh Archimedes wala funda bhi theek hai but you can't run naked in the streets anymore. By the time you dress up and get out into the world, you find josh chala gaya.
Lesson # 5: There is no secret ingredient in the secret ingredient soup.
And this is especially relevant at a time when we are all on the quest for the Holy Grail. We believe that joining the right college, the right course or the right company is the secret ingredient which will spice up our soup - our careers, our lives.
The truth is, it's all about what you believe. The moment you join an IIT or an IIM you start believing,"Hey I am really really good". You get the confidence to take on the world, the chutzpah to say,"The world is my oyster".
Clearing these super tough exams is like running a lawnmower through your own mental garden. It crushes the weeds of self doubt and self pity which we've allowed to grow.
Exam or no exam, you can choose to yank out those weeds. Then look the guys who think they know better in the eye and declare,"My soup is as kick-ass as yours."
Lastly, words of wisdom from Master Oogway which apply not just to careers, but any and every walk of life: 'Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery... today is a gift'.
Have you at least undone the wrapping paper of this brand new, beautiful moment? Right here, right now, today??