Something my editor said the other day has been on my mind.

He said, ‘Whatever you do, if you don’t have a fire in your belly, you will never be able to achieve anything.’

Now, I’ve been working for so long, that I realise that many a time, what I do is more mechanical than actually something that is done out of deep thought.

So I’ve got to wonder about what he said. Frankly, I can’t quite remember if I’ve had that kind of ‘fire’ in recent times. There have points in my life where I have wanted to achieve something badly; felt flashes of that fire. But lately, I haven’t had glimpsed much of it it myself. Is it age? Is it just laziness and the comfort of being in a snug place? One has to wonder.

It’s worrying because, what you need to survive in a field like mine, is a sense of competition and the needs to always be on top of things. To try and want to be the best. To always have a keen sense of where you’re going, what you’re doing and enough passion to take you through.

Do I have ‘it’ in me? Do I want ‘it’ badly enough? I’ve been thinking about what he said, and I haven’t come up with any answers yet.

8 thoughts on “Do you have it in you?

  1. One of my ex-bosses used to tell me, that one must never work like some guy working for daily wages … where one finishes what was assigned and then shows up for more instructions/work. He probably meant that there must be the big picture in the mind and a sense of strategy and flow.

    I get plenty of that when I organize big get-togethers, workshops, events etc. Somehow not so much when it comes to “work” work.

  2. I’ve been thinking about what he said, and I haven’t come up with any answers yet.

    Actually, that should worry you more.

    That you haven’t come up with any answers yet.

  3. Hmm.. I have seen this a lot in people who are like a few hops ahead of me in the profession — something what is famously known as growing up to be incompetent. Not in absolute terms, but in relative terms, when somewhere past 30 you slacken up and do just enough to protect your own turf. But it is nothing compared to what it used to be like.

    I do not think there is any work out there that involves deep thought day in and day out, most often if you look at it even something like hacking Linux kernel code involves a lot of mundane, systematic or even mechanical coding.

    From what I have seen in my very short stint in the media circus, if you cannot keep up with retooling yourself with what is relevant and new in the field or if you have more or less reached the end of the learning curve as far pure journo skills go, you have to focus on moving up a notch and try to manage people and resources.

    Where I am right now would not normally qualify as a comfort zone, but as far getting by goes, it is the case, though the consistency, quality and quantity of work that is pushed through is considerable. Still, by my own standards I can do a lot better. Which is where all the fascination with tech etc comes.

    You cannot expect to have the drive consistently in just one field 365 days a year. The trick is to have a few back ups to fall back on and to then connect the dots and make the back ups relevant to the main case.

  4. Shyamal: I am wondering, from what you said, how much of the responsibility lies with you? Should your workplace also throw up enough challenges to keep you fired? Or is it totally upto you to create interesting and challenging projects?

  5. Thanks Amit! Feels kind of strange. Am still getting used to my new look and wardrobe! But, change is necessary every so once in a while 🙂

    Madman: Believe me, it does worry me! A lot.

    Codey: I guess you’re right about not expecting the drive to be there 365 days a year. And I guess it’s also a question that most of us ask ourselves. In a sense, I think its healthy to take some time once in a while to check where you’re going. And whether you like where you’re going. And if you have it in you to keep up along that path. So I guess, what he said was good for me in that I haven’t thought along those lines for a while and now I know the time has come for me to look deeper for the answers.

  6. Anita,

    I really think it is up to individuals to make a difference. Most often, workplaces are never really challenging beyond the first couple of months. In many cases work itself gets pretty humdrum. Things always work well. Can they work better? That’s something that every individual has to work on.

    It is very important to have good “seniors” at the workplace. People who can inspire you and be your role models.

    Two very good things about this ex-boss of mine…

    * Whenever he gave me an instruction, he would ask me if I agreed with him. Always. He wanted me to think for myself and question his way of thinking if I disagreed.

    * If anyone ever completed some work and asked him to check if things were right, he would be displeased. His funda was that if he had to finally look at the problem, he wouldn’t have assigned it to someone else in the first place.

    Both these techniques, went towards inculcating in his subordinates, a sense of ownership.

    Now ownership isn’t a “strict requirement” in most jobs, and the job always gets done even if we all remain the “blue collar” employees. So we don’t really feel that the workplace demands anything extra.

  7. Hey Anita! First, congrats on the new space! Looks and reads wonderful.

    Completely agree with your boss about the fire in the belly bit, however cliched it may sound. A job’s not worth doing if it’s not worth doing for free. And you’d only slave over doing something for free (and perfect it in the best way you can) if there’s that damned fire kicking in the inside. Completely agree with the fact that there is a lot of organizational responsibility to create environments that fuel passion but all the fuel in the world would be useless without the spark (cliche again!!).

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