Guest AuthorRaja Jamalamadaka

Everything happens for a reason – live it, learn from it. Someday, everything will make sense

By | Raja Jamalamadaka | Industry speaker | Neuroscience coach | Marshall Goldsmith awardee | Author | LinkedIn Top voice | IIT | Harvard

Philip had just been passed over for a promotion to the CEO role. I had known him for three decades – right from my school days – and he was one of my best friends. He invited me – and few of his close professional friends for dinner. Anticipating frustration, anger and self-pity, I went prepared to boost his confidence – armed with anecdotes from my business experience.

Upon reaching his house, I saw an unexpected picture. Contrary to what I had expected, Philip looked very cheerful and genuinely happy. There was almost no talk about the (loss of) promotion. I reasoned Philip might have wanted to behave maturely – especially since he was known to be a gentlemanly person.

After the other guests left, I broached the topic. 

“It was disturbing. After all, who wants to lose a CEO title?”.

“Will you talk to the HR Head?” I asked.

“Yes” after a short pause, he added “to thank them.”

A but stunned, I asked him to explain himself.

“Let me tell you a few stories from my life. During my academic days, I wanted to be a computer engineer – it was the hottest academic course then. However, I didn’t get good grades – and I had to settle for a civil engineering degree. Back then, I was frustrated but in hindsight, it was the best thing that happened to me. I met my spouse there – she was my project partner in the civil engineering program. Given the fulfilling marital life I have experienced so far, it didn’t take long for me to realize that while the doors to the computer degree had closed, a new door to a life-long “fulfilling spousal relationship” had opened up.

Years later, my visa application to the US was rejected. That seemed to close the door on my Silicon Valley dreams – I longed to work for a marquee Silicon Valley technology firm. Disturbed albeit a bit wiser now, I wondered what benefit could this experience bring to my life. I continued working in India – the work didnt appear exciting at first. Since the technology industry in India – compared to the US – presented people management opportunities early in career, I rose through the ranks fairly quickly. In a few years, I rose to the Chief Operating Officer level even as most of my friends in the US were still mid-level programmers. The real benefit was enlightening – I realized that my true passion was people management and mentorship, not at all in deep technology. I doubt I would have realized this if I hadn’t gotten exposure to both technology programing and leadership roles – something that staying back in India afforded. As surprising as this might sound, the closure of Silicon Valley door opened the door to my “professional passion”

Some years later, I didn’t clear the job interview for a demanding CEO role at a competitor firm that promised 250% higher compensation but demanded a fair bit of travel. By now, I was confident something good was about to happen from this failure. A year later, we had our second child – and my wife benefitted enormously from the work-life balance that my job afforded. I soon realized that while the door to monetary riches had closed, another door to family riches had opened up.

These examples coupled with a several smaller episodes in my daily life convinced me that when one door closes, another opens up – you just need to keep looking for it with a positive mindset.”

“Why do you want to thank the HR Head?”

“Speaking to the HR Head helped me realize that I – despite wallowing in self-pity and crying politics from rooftops – had been in a comfort zone the last few years and wasn’t ready for the CEO role. This feedback drove me out of my comfort zone and energized me more than ever – research shows 80% of people never move out of their comfort zone. While the door to the role of a CEO has closed, the doors to the riches of life that come from escaping the comfort zone had opened up.”

I wasn’t convinced yet. “What’s special about your examples – Aren’t these serendipities? Don’t a lot of people experience something similar in their lives?”

“The difference is in the attitude and mindset.

 “When one door closesanother opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. Opportunities don’t knock on negative minds.”

“This does make some sense, but not fully”, I thought. Hanging on the wall was a placard that read –

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Raja Jamalamadaka is a Harvard educated TEDx and corporate speaker, entrepreneur, mentor to startup founders, and winner of “Marshall Goldsmith award for coaching excellence” for being top 100 coach to senior industry executives. He was adjudged a LinkedIn Top Voice 2018 for being one of the platform’s most insightful and engaging writers. His primary area of research is neurosciences – functioning of the brain and its links to leadership attributes like productivity, confidence, positivity, decision making and organization culture. If you liked this article, you might like some of his earlier articles here:

Be productive, not just active.

Your career is marathon, not a sprint. Here’s how to run it like a marathoner

Customer Service is an attitude, not a department

The importance of mentorship

How to use your brain effectively and be your creative best?

How to work 8 hours and accomplish more than 16 hours of work?

How I solved my phone addiction challenge ?

What is leadership?

How to overcome stage fear

How to be in the Right Place at the Right Time

How to use your brain effectively for success

How to stay relevant in a dynamic job market

How to sustain professional success

How to be Happy in Life

How to become an effective communicator 

Republished with permission and originally published at Raja Jamalamadaka’s LinkedIn

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