Posts tagged work
what defines us

Our careers define us and we define our careers.

Every time I walk into a room I look for the exits. When I'm on a plane I try to visualize how I'll react to the oxygen mask deploying in front of me and I count the number of rows between my seat and the exit. It's part of being in emergency management and response.

My parents, both pharmacists, can easily pick out illnesses and probable treatments. I'm certain my bomb tech buddy sees potential locations for IEDs without even blinking, while my medic friends know exactly where the AED is in every room they enter and never fail to ask about allergies.

So yes, we become our careers, but I maintain that we also define our careers. We leave our mark on every project, program and person we touch. No matter what sector you choose, the impact we all strive for is an ability to take initiative and work the bureaucracy until it bends to our need.

It's what leaves a indelible mark on the job, no matter how large or small. Most people I know hope that their reputation precedes them - that someone knows who they are based on how they've defined their career field. 

A friend and former boss called it,  Getting Shit Done. He would say, GSD are the only initials that matter behind your name. I happen to agree. It's the definition I strive for, every single day.

Salt vs. Fire

I've had quite literally thousands of conversations about passion. And yet very few about desire. And in my recent reading, I ran across this thought by Thomas Keller - American Restaurateur.

"It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire."

Thomas Keller on Passion

And it got me to thinking. We often equate passion and desire as the same thing, but they are clearly not. Perhaps they are of the same lineage. Yet it seems desire is the fire that boils the stew, while passion is simply the salt (just to continue with the kitchen metaphors) that offers valuable flavor.

I think the overriding question - for life, be it personal or professional, is how much are you putting forward and what's the balance? How hot is the fire and how salty is the stew?

Excess of either can destroy something that started out with merit, but only one can feed your soul (hint: it's not the salt).