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Passion and Drive: The Key to an IMU Alumnus’ Success

26 Apr 2021

driven /ˈdrɪvn/ Learn to pronounce


(of a person) relentlessly compelled by the need to accomplish a goal; very hard-working and ambitious.

What motivates you in life? What drives you? Why piques your curiosity? Have you given yourself an opportunity is reflecting on these questions? It is questions we hear often, yet we never deal with them personally. Why? Too afraid of the answers you may hear? There was an online assessment conducted by LeadershipIQ, to determine the single biggest motivation driver that keeps us happy in our life and jobs.

Using data from more than 20,000 people surveyed, they discovered that there are five major types of motivations that drive us:
Achievement People want to excel and continually reach for a higher level of personal best.
Power Driven people want to take charge and make decisions that impact others.
Affiliation Driven people want to build harmonious relationships and feel accepted by others.
Security Driven people want to maintain continuity, consistency, and predictability.
Adventure Driven people want to seek risk, change, and uncertainty.

To my conclusions out of the five outcomes, at least four of them are from the Driven nature. Let us ignore all the other questions above and let’s focus on the most important question for today – “Are you a driven individual?” Being driven comes in various forms. So, what does it really mean to be driven? Whichever definition you prefer, driven individuals demonstrate a consistent set of personality traits. They are passionate, focused on learning, and competitive. They are also doers – passion and learning alone give us the dreamers and spectators, hard work is needed to bring success. In a Psychology Today article, Mary C. Lamia said, “being successful provides rewards, and the stimulation intrinsic to being driven can result in the self-perpetuating nature of such behavior.”

Allow me to share with you a story of a boy called Manoj. Manoj was supposed to go to India to do his dentistry however before he could take the next step, a streak of luck came by and he was accepted in IMU. Why am I calling this a streak of luck? Stay tuned and you would figure it out. For Manoj IMU was his playground, he met one of his greatest friends there. Just imagine five years in a dentistry programme with the same bunch day in day out, who would not cherish that am I right? Hence, they are stuck for life.

For every story, there is always a beginning and for Manoj, it began in high school to be exact when he was sixteen years old. Manoj requested from his dad a DSLR Camera for his sixteenth birthday – mainly was to explore and to take few headshots of his friend for Facebook. His photography journey which started with headshots eventually led him to Prom nights – his very first paid job. His dad would pick him up and send him to his locations for prom shoots, then evolved to family and couple portraits.

He had the most fun shooting prom nights, that too with only one camera. He had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and expand his network. So here is a twist, Manoj’s first lucky streak was when his dad decided to get him his first DSLR, the second lucky streak is the fact that his dad is also into photography. Manoj cultivates his love for photography from a very young age. During family holidays back then, Manoj was given a huge responsibility in ensuring the cameras were charged and loaded. Loaded with film as digital were not a huge deal then. Manoj was also in charge of taking shots from time to time along with his father. They would drive around KL just to get some shots, even Cameron Highlands too for the landscapes.

IMU Alumnus shares his journey of juggling his careers as photographer and a dentist.

One fine day they were having dinner at home on a weekday and his dad gifted him new lenses for doing well in his exams. Later that night, his dad drove him to KLCC just to shoot the KLCC fountain. He gained knowledge on exposure, lighting, ISO, and other photography-related technicalities from his father. “My mother is very supportive, I will be super tired and when I am home, she will have already prepared my dinner or breakfast in the morning for another shoot.” Very close-knitted family. A photographer can make a different living. Sister is a doctor who lives in Kedah with her husband and she would be his model.

Hold on! I know what you must be thinking, what is having a driven life got to do with a boy who has all the support and exposure from his family on photography. Be patient, you will know soon. Where were we, ah yes high school? Upon completing high school Manoj continued his education journey with HELP to do his A-level and there he met his third lucky streak – a friend called Joshua Yap. Joshua Yap was the soul who brought him into the wedding photography industry. It was a leap for Manoj as he was able to get into that world. Weddings are the ultimate level up for a photographer. He was supporting and assisting Joshua for some wedding shoots, at that moment Manoj felt that this is it and this is what he wants to do. After helping Joshua a few times, he started sharing his photos on his Instagram which led him to other projects. Simultaneously, he was focusing on his studies and ensuring he did not lose track of that. When did IMU come into the picture? Here is the deal, no kids will put their ambition as a dentist as it was not the famous type of profession. It has always been the doctors, lawyers, accountants, and engineers. After completing his A-levels, he decided to take up dentistry. Simply because back then dentistry used to have a branding as a lucrative profession with great work-life balance, it would be a beautiful match for Manoj as he would be able to focus on his photography as well. In IMU, besides his friends, one of his greatest achievements was when he created a Dental Magazine – Teeth Talk. He was out one day with his Dean when he mentioned that they should do something different and that is when the idea struck and he dragged all his best friends and they supported one another to complete this magazine.

Mun Keat – Who is this creature that is so dear to Manoj?

Manoj met Mun Keat during his fourth year. Every time before a wedding shoot, Manoj would always look for inspiration online. There were more than 1000 photos and he kept getting attracted to a particular photographer and it was directed to Mun Keat. What else, Manoj Facebook messaged him and asked if he could be a part of his team.

He endured all the different types of challenges that Mun Keat threw at him and he was chosen to be a part of Mun Keat’s team – what an honor! It was Mun Keat who made Manoj the photographer he is today. He allows Manoj to have his own business despite being in his team and he does not limit his potential. Manoj stood by him ultimately out of respect and admiration. Mun Keat guides Manoj no matter how crazy his schedule is.

An important learning from here is, no matter how lucky you are but without dedication and hard work no luck will come your way easily.

It is merely the drive you want to have in your life for the things that you love. So here is the downside for Manoj upon graduation, as much as the market was selling dentistry as a lucrative job with a good work-life balance, that was not the case. Did it stop him from pursuing his passion for photography? Let us see!

“As a business owner, we photographers will look at a wedding as a profit-making session. I still find the passion to shoot despite getting tired from time to time due to my day job. I try not to overbook myself and burn out.” shares Manoj.

The journey of juggling life as a dentist and a photographer, the expectations are high, and a lot of stress management had to be handled. There are days he would finish late after a night shoot and the next morning up for work as usual. As much as his father played a huge role in his early days, his mother played a bigger role later by ensuring dinner meals are prepped for him when he gets home as there were days, he had no time to have a proper meal. Why is it a bigger role, we all are aware food is humans’ best companion other than our pets. Why go through this much trouble when it’s difficult to juggle both worlds? Well, to be honest, nothing can stop you from fulfilling your soul with something you are passionate about. It may sound tiring to us, but it fuels them in many ways.

There were few difficult decisions Manoj had to make as most weddings were during the weekends. Manoj had to turn down a few on various occasions. He had to take the next big step, he submitted his resume to most private clinics that he is aware of, but it got rejected because he stated that he was not able to work on weekends.

Fortunately, he was able to join a clinic that was able to provide him 5-day week work rotation and Saturday. This in a way eased in the weekend life as a dentist with his wedding projects as well. Even though the worlds are very different, but they are similar. He is able to cross apply all his learned skills and make the best of both worlds – dentistry and photography. It overlaps for starters, the communications part wherein photography is between the couple, how he needs to identify their needs and wants. Meanwhile, in dentistry, it is with his patients. To him it is always the service that gives good memory, fitting in the missing piece and creating a safe space. There is always a link in everything we do in life if we see it close enough.

Pro Tip by Manoj:
Balance your time – “I do not balance my time” shares Manoj. Do not try to please everyone. Take it one step at a time. For a long time, he was not able to have enough time for himself and it was tough. Hence, he went for the prioritization approach. “There are certain weekends of the year I do not take any bookings just to recharge and be with family. For example, I do not shoot the week before Deepavali or any other family functions.” shares Manoj. He missed out on a lot of occasions in life due to dual life and he decided to enjoy life as we all should.

So, he will focus on those that are important and flow with them accordingly. It was his girlfriend who taught him to enjoy life and enjoy each moment. Why stress out on things and miss out on the opportunity to smell joy. Nowadays, he updates his couples on the photo delivery and his patient’s procedure with full focus.

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