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Your rice has already been cooked
By Joan Marques

ďIt takes long to see that the light you are seeking is in your own lantern. Your rice has already been cooked.Ē

The above-posted statement was conveyed to me by one of my three local mentors on a meeting I had with all three of them the other day. No, it was not about kitchen recipes or energy providers. It was about life. The mentor who expressed this statement -- some call him ďSatĒ -- told me he had come to know this statement as an old Eastern proverb. That may explain the rice in it, he added wittily.

So how did this topic come about anyway? Well, finding myself on crossroads once again, I felt the need for some direction regarding the way I needed to continue my stroll through professional life. I recalled Tom Petersí counsel about updating your Rolodex and keeping in touch with your mentors for guidance at critical times, and I started working on it.

The meeting with my mentors was an interesting one. I presented my latest project, a spirituality-at-work related e-zine that I had just developed, and received the feedback that I solicited. Oh yes, the comments were very positive. However, in these turbulent times where lay-offs are more rule than exception, and where insecurity seems to be more of a steady state of mind than a sporadic occurrence, every advice, no matter how positively and eloquently given, seems too far away in the future for implementation. These are the times when the only thing that counts is immediate action. Or at least, thatís how you feel about it when panic starts ruling you.

And then, around the corner, comes this mentor with his heartening proclamation that itís no use losing sleep over too many issues at the same time. ďSatĒ said to me, ďThere are only so many issues one can lose sleep over, you know. One should do everything in his or her power to get ahead. And no stone should be left unturned. But after youíve done everything, you have to relax and wait.Ē

A pretty tough one to execute, I know. And I still feel that I should be running every time I try to sit back and catch my breath. But Sat is right.

So, letís try to summarize here what I learned from my meeting with the mentors. You never know if one or more of these advises might hit home for you in your current life stage.

∑ Itís good to stay in touch with the people that enrich your spirit. Everyone knows someone that inspires him or her. So do you, right? Contact that person, even if only a few times a year. But keep the communication flow alive.

∑ In times of crisis, but actually even more in times when things seem smooth, you should stay alert and continue to practice all your outstanding skills. Multi-applicability is what sells best these days.

∑ Never discard an idea you have. You may not find a suitable application for it now, but you never know when it can become practical!

∑ Perceive every career slap in your face as a lesson you have to learn on your way to top professionalism. The hurdles you meet will enable you to later instruct others how to avoid or manage them.

∑ Accept a kind hand reached out to you. That hand usually belongs to someone who once accepted another helping hand as well!

∑ Donít give up trying, but donít stress too much over anything either. The art is to stay in control of the situation, even if you donít know where you will be next week or next month. No one knows that anyway. Not even the ones in the most secure positions!

It is especially this last message that ties in excellently with Satís Eastern citation. Whether you believe in predestination or not, things will happen to you when, how, and where they are supposed to. As long as you refrain yourself from becoming apathetic and letting everything slide you by, you will end up all right.

The biggest source of power and wisdom resides in yourself, and it is this wisdom within you that will lead you to where you belong. It just takes long to see that the light you are seeking is in your own lantern. But your rice has already been cooked.

Joan Marques, holds an MBA, is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, and a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web site at www.joanmarques.com

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