This question about making an operations management or maintenance management career choice has a deeper meaning

A work career is a lifetime commitment and needs careful consideration. The best career choice is to go with your Passion. But if you do not have your Passion what can you do?

I was lucky to get this email. It led to writing my thoughts down on a subject which made a big difference to my career and has now found a place close to my heart—How great do you want to be at what you do?



Dear Mike,

I would like to ask something to you? If I decided to have a career in the operation or maintenance department of a company, what kind of book should I read and master? What kind of training should I follow and master? What kind of practice should I do? Finally WHAT KIND OF PATH SHOULD I WALK?

Because in my imagination, I want to become the best in my career. There is not unlimited paths for me to walk. Could you guide me to reach that best result.

Thanks a lot,




Dear Tikuk,

You are asking for answers to one of life’s great questions — ‘what path should I walk?’ What am I here to do?

When I asked those questions of myself many years ago I eventually found the books written by the late James Rohn. He was a motivational speaker and his thoughts and views meant a great deal to me. They gave me comfort to know that I was just passing through a natural stage in life. I cannot say better what Jim Rohn has already said. I recommend that you read as many of his books as you can.

What I can do is to add my experience and understanding to what Jim wrote.

First realise that you are already fulfilling your purpose. Do not worry that you do not yet know what that is. You are here to complete your Path and you are on it right now. So continue forward. Clearly, one Purpose was for you to ask me these questions. Once I realised that I was always on my Path my life became simpler. I look back now over what I did during the past decades. In the earlier times I too was confused and terribly uncertain. Now it all makes sense; what I did and what happened to me was a perfect fit with my Purpose and Passion. (See ADDENDUM for corrections)

I was in my late 40’s when I found my Passion for reliability creation. Up until then I did not know what I was here to do. I married, went to university, brought up children and had a career during those years of ignorance. I realise now that they were all correct and good things to do, even though all the while I searched for my life’s Reason. Live your life forwards. The rest will come to you when it should.

There are some tell-tale signs if you are doing your Passion. One is that time means nothing when you are fulfilling your Purpose. When you have to stop doing ‘it’ you are annoyed to have to leave it for another time. A second sign is that you get angry inside when you see ‘it’ not being done properly; when others do not respect the great importance of ‘it’. The third sign is you will become an expert in doing ‘it’ and never regret a second of the effort it took you to become that good. There will be a hunger in you to know more and to do better. Finally, it does not matter greatly what you do during your Time of Searching, when you find your Purpose you will be ready to travel whatever path that ‘it’ will take you.

If you like the idea of an operations career or a maintenance career then move that way. You are always on the Path to your life Purpose. Become very good at each of the work roles you fulfil. You have already understood the importance of being the best at what you do. That is a true and correct view of life.

Whether it be operations or maintenance you decide to do, learn all that it takes to be the best. There is even a rule as to how long that will take you—it needs 10,000 hours focused on a specific discipline to become expert in it. I pity those people that believe work in the future will require regular job changes and multiple careers. There are not that may 10,000 hour lots available in one life. Those people that do not stick at a thing will be useless at many things. It is not how you have a happy and fulfilled life. They will wonder often why their life is so average. Maybe their purpose is to educate the rest of us about what is important to focus on in our own lives.

Your questions are good indicators that your life is on the right Path. In many ways you answered your own question as to ‘what path to walk?’—you want to be best in the career you choose. To me, the answer to that question is clear—work hard at becoming great at what ever you do, and learn fast, then life’s Purpose can find you sooner. Everything on your Path will happen as a result of the road already travelled and it cannot happen before you are ready.

The question on, ‘What kind of book should I read and master?’ also has a clear answer for a career—read them all; read every thing that you can get your hands on until you understand.

The answer to the remaining questions, ‘What kind of training should I follow and master?’ and ‘What kind of practice should I do?’ naturally follow from making your career choice—learn it all, and practise until you can create in your life what your Passion wants to see happen.

Tikuk, I am glad that our Paths crossed. I hope that you get insight from Jim Rohn’s books. I hope that my thoughts written above have given you some guidance.

Which ever career path you decide to take is a good choice. Let your Passion infuse it and you will make it a great career. Stay with each career choice until you are an expert in it. Every job is important. When you do your job brilliantly it will bring great value to you and to the people whose Path you cross.


All the best to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


ADDENDUM: The assertion of my past being a ‘perfect fit with my Purpose’ is wrong and misleading. I left the paragraph as you read it so you become aware of the fallacy it is. The implication that I am (or you are) simply following fate is a total misconception. To say in hindsight everything was pre-ordained is the trap I fell into. That is exactly as it would seem when looking back at the alignment of past events in every life. Where I am (and where you are) now is the result of all past events, decisions and subsequent actions. In hindsight it would appear to you that you ‘were guided’ to this place and what you did before was the preordained path you must be on. A hindsight view of alignment in past events is not proof of destiny at work.

The human mind looks for reasons and justifications for why things are as they are. We will even accept mysticism as proof of a cause. The evidence I used to prove my life had Purpose was that I followed a Path that gave me what I think is a meaningful life. To claim I was on a pre-set Path that I could not see until I had walked the entire length of it and looked back along it is mysticism. The truth is we make choices and they lead to outcomes, then we make more choices that have their own outcomes. At every point in time we are where our choices and ignorance took us. We create our own Path, which looks like it was predetermined when we look back along it—fate is not the cause of where we find ourselves in life, but it can look like it is.

The choices you make (or do not make), the accuracy of your understanding, and the actions you take is how your Path is directed. What you like to do, and what you become good at doing, explain a lot about the Path you follow. What is really important for your career is to make the right lifetime choices and to become great at what you do.