As a person who turned a little hobby into an exciting career pursuit, I genuinely believe in looking at usual things and using them to learn valuable lessons. One never knows where an important issue is going to come up: whether on the train, one takes to work, in a regular activity one does every day, or in one’s kitchen.
The kitchen example is especially suitable for my situation since my cooking career began as a hobby when at the age of 8 I made my first bun in my Aunt’s bakery. Going to school, I decided to make a little money by cooking part-time, but did not stop at that: after college, I started as a culinary apprentice at Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto, where I was quickly promoted to stewarding supervisor and am now being considered for an assistant comptroller training program.
My professional expertise did not only come from training directly related to culinary art such as Culinary Management program. My everyday activities invariably included making mental models that can be constructed in the most straightforward examples. Out-of-work experience has taught me that people first use their eyesight to appreciate food, then try it with their tongues if the sight is excellent. This concept had made me a more skillful communicator than before and helped me to realize what people need and how they assess everyday situations. It has also taught me that I need to be something more than a professional, a personality that combines diverse interests to arrive at a rounded perception of the world.
One way I used to communicate this perspective to other people is through music. Playing accordion for 14 years in settings including Montreal nursing homes, an ensemble raising money for The Montreal Children’s hospital, and Make a wish foundation, I felt a genuine bond to my listeners who could share the feelings I put in my performance. The nobility of the cause was a principal attraction of this pursuit as the sight of the weak, indigent and disabled has never left me indifferent.
This feeling motivated me to participate in “cooking in tough for time” initiative designed to make people appreciate the advantages they had in life as compared to others. Such events help a person put one’s situation in perspective to the deplorable condition of other people. One begins to value advantages one has had and to focus less on difficulties and challenges that invariably exist in every person’s life.
My life was indeed full of opportunities, and I am happy to know I used many of them. Given a chance to engage in any sport I liked, I was on hockey and water polo teams for seven years, training my body and strengthening my willpower and team skills. In a team environment, making things happen takes an understanding that a group’s success is more important than an individual’s, and a person will be valued proportionately to the input in the team’s progress. In my sports practice, there came an understanding that winning cannot be the merit of one person, it is a group effort, and this is the primary focus of any team activity. Learning to accept criticism and to use it to improve was not easy, but I found that if one lets go of irrational feelings, winning over one’s weakness can become the primary triumph.
The sport was instrumental in expanding my communicative abilities and team skills, and traveling was an excellent opportunity for broadening my world outlook. Having been all over Europe and South America, in South Korea, Japan, and India, I found an expanded understanding of other cultures, learned five foreign languages and got rid of some prejudices. A pivotal moment in my life came when I was standing at the train station in Calcutta, having just lost my wallet and feeling so sorry for myself that I was ready to cry. When I saw a sick three-year-old in India singing a cheerful song and feeling so indifferent to life’s hardships that were undoubtedly ahead of him, this changed my perception of my fate forever: never again did I feel sorry for myself ever still. I realized then that I have both potential and opportunities to achieve a fulfilling, satisfying life, and always tried to make good use of both.
Realization of one’s abilities takes both determination and a healthy body, and I gained both through yoga and exercise. A sound mind is in a sound shape, and this combination of mental and physical activity helped me to obtain both. I lost 60 pounds by changing my habits and increasing exercise load, and yoga helped me to keep a fantastic shape ever since. It was not easy to change my lifestyle, but I learned that doing simple things today enables one to accomplish more critical things tomorrow and that I have to reach a destination even it seems complicated.
A variety of hobbies, experiences, and interests have helped me to develop many important character traits and taught me lessons that I will never forget. To me, these things were not less important than professional achievements; they were merely a way to look at life from a different angle, adding to the multi-faceted picture of the modern world.
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