A Placebo Called Serendipity

Why loving what you do could beget greater success

Abhishek Kothari
3 min readMar 15, 2017

Everybody seems to be searching for the ‘next big thing’ in their lives. Social media, if viewed as a tool to showcase hubris, can accelerate the feelings of being left behind. Behind a lot of happy faces are failures, sacrifices and loneliness. Happiness cannot be obtained by using others success as a yardstick to measure yours. That’s because you dont know the price paid by others for their success.

The allure of entrepreneurship can be quite seductive. The three letters – CEO rule many a subconscious mind. Without a sound backup plan though, there is a thin line between bravery and foolishness. That is not to say following your passion is a foolish endeavor. It is certainly a wise thing to do. However, the importance of a safety net cannot be stressed enough.

On a rather gloomy evening, my close colleague Siddharth was discussing his experience of serving as an employee of an enterprise within the telecom sector in Gujarat – a relatively prosperous state in India. His assumption was that he will have a smooth career with a work life balance to boot.

However, India can have a unique work culture that can be bewildering to many. Sid was in for a surprise. He realized that he could not fit in and had frequent arguments with his boss. His boss assigned him to a department considered the ‘worst’ within the telecom business. To this day, Siddharth recounts the days spent on field in the middle of pouring rain within puddles of brown water to fix broken telephone lines.

However, the on field experience provided him with a strong understanding of grassroots project execution. He learnt more in an adverse work environment than he learnt in the previous six years of his career.

His learnings landed him a stint two years later in a foreign location with all the comforts of a king. Uncannily, Sid is not alone in narrating such stories. Amidst the desperation and helplessness, many individuals swim against the proverbial current to discover new lands of plenty. Their only resource was a resolve to leave their workplace better than when they found it. Quite often, silos within organizations restrict unity and result in redundancy. There is a need to step beyond routine duties and think like an owner / entrepreneur.

This is no way an argument to dissuade entrepreneurs but rather an attempt to highlight an option that is oft overlooked. While the grass may look greener, the demands of entrepreneurship can be unmanageable.

If you believe in a grand plan, sometimes, there is good reason to love what you are doing. Taking a lost cause, braving the odds and transforming a small but problematic part of business can be immensely satisfying. Success is its own siren song. Therefore, there is good reason to step out of your comfort zone and come close to failure.

Too many people think the grass is greener on the other side without having given their all to their job. Going beyond the call of duty to leave your workplace better than when you found it can be serendipitous. And, if you believe in the power of hope, a placebo can be the cure to an unhappy state of mind. A state afflicting many but the wisest of us. If you have taken many medicines and not found a cure, what possible harm could come out of a placebo. Try it.



Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR