Founder of Ergos Mind, Author, Wisdom Coach and Founder of ‘The Purpose Project’
It was a routine check-up with the doctor for my daughter, Jenita. She had a small bump on her head and when she went in for a consultation for a fever, my wife asked the physician about it – just in passing. We didn’t think much of it. We were headed for a holiday to Krabi, Thailand, very shortly and our plans had been detailed out by our three teenage kids. But instead of checking into a hotel in Krabi as we had planned, we ended up checking into a room at the Christian Medical College Hospital (CMC) in Vellore.
It turned out that our 13-year-old had a large growth in the retroperitoneal area – the bump on the forehead was a secondary growth. A biopsy would need to be performed to determine if it was malignant. Not a simple biopsy but a surgery that lasted eight hours. I assumed that once the biopsy was done, she would spent a week recuperating and then we would head back home to Mumbai. But Jenita endured severe post-operative complications – and the projected seven days turned into a 90-day stay in the hospital.
Jenita was in and out of surgeries, in and out of ICU, on and off life support machines.
I’ll never forget the knock on the hospital room door on 21st of June 2016. I was being beckoned to the ICU where Jenita had been taken. I could hear my heart beating as the doctor came from the ICU and looked at me with a serious expression on his face. His words sent a chill down my spine: “Rajiv, she is in septic shock. Be prepared for the worst.”
I remember that walk back to the hospital room to tell my wife the devastating news. How can you possibly tell a mother to prepare for the worst?
But that night Jenita pulled through.
She made it out of the ICU eventually. The rest of the journey wasn’t easy. There were more surgeries, more complications. She had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
But, in that hospital room in CMC, I knew that my life was forever changed. In the midst of the pain and anxiety, I heard the still voice of God speaking to me from within saying: Rajiv don’t waste another minute. Go out and chase after your purpose.
I knew that the only certainty of life is its uncertainty. And, with startling clarity, I knew that I had to live out my purpose.
So I did what many would think unwise or even foolish. I quit my job as a CXO in a large conglomerate, a job which gave me a handsome salary and a corner office, in order to pursue purpose – all because of a call in a hospital room. I knew, without a doubt, that my calling is to speak, inspire and teach. And today that’s exactly what I do.
I believe that out of adversity comes life’s greatest lessons and turning points. Today, I stand on stages and conduct workshops with the intent to inspire people to grasp their purpose and to live life with excellence.
But growing up, I lived far from that ideal. I was the youngest child, the only son, and I was doted on especially by my mother, a doctor in Chennai. My mother was my world. She gave me confidence, she made me believe in the power of my dreams. But on August 2nd, 1984, when I was 9 years old, that world came crashing to an end. I walked into a bedroom at our house to see my mother’s lifeless body hanging from the fan. She had taken her own life.
I barely cried when it happened. I bottled it all up – and that unexpressed grief and loneliness took me from being an outstanding student to becoming a rebel. By the time I was 17 years old, I was drinking regularly. I was getting increasingly angry inside – and there were couple of times I even decided to take my own life. Even though I planned all the details meticulously, my attempts kept failing. I know now that it was only divine intervention.
My anger also fueled my passion to prove the naysayers in my life wrong. I wanted to show them I could beat the odds. So I worked hard. I remember my first job while I was in college – attempting to sell artificial jewelry. I borrowed a cycle from a watchman that I knew so I could get around town – and I made Rs. 50 a week.
But, by God’s grace, He rescued me from my own plans of self-destruction. He blessed me with a good job after college and established my family. I realized that there was a higher power and He had a definite purpose over my life. He didn’t bless me just so I could rub shoulders with big names or grow my bank account. I believe He blessed me so I could live out my divine assignment.
Adversity has been a powerful teacher in my life. Today, I have learned to value the valuables – to put character over reputation, family over fortune, health over wealth and memories over money.
I’ve understood that career is what you’re paid for – but calling is what you’re made for.
Today, as I head this project close to my heart – The Purpose Project – I’m living out my calling to speak, inspire and teach. I’m living out my purpose, on purpose.