How do you spot a winner when you see one? Well, there are two kinds of people on earth. Ones who make it big. Others who aspire to be one, but never make it. The difference doesn’t lie in the land they were born, what they looked like, whether they were straight or gay, or have had quality education or not – the difference quintessentially lies in ‘vision‘, a ‘burning desire to change the world‘ and that X-factor, I call ‘passion‘.
During my very brief time of living abroad – whilst meeting and interacting with lots of highly talented and remarkably smart people (who used to make me feel dumb, in fact) – the chief differentiator was always ‘a clear vision’ of where he/she wishes to be. Not the role in hand and day-to-day activities, which are extremely important as well, but one stark differentiator of ‘extraordinarily smart’ people and average people I have worked with is – when a question is asked – e.g. “so – what do you think – this UI change – how will it positively affect our registration process?” or “the back-end CMS changes as we discussed, what impact will it have on end-user experience?” etc; exceptional people not only have the direct answers but go beyond and have the broader picture as well (besides the essential finer points). Thus, to a question – “So – What do you think – this UI change – how will it positively affect our registration process?“ – the answers would be as follows:
average people: “Well, the UI change as the lead developer showcased, definitely looks good. Am fine with it. Looks like will work well; of course, we need to figure out the entire workflow, functional requirements specifications for the workflow and so on. Overall, looks good!”
outstanding people: “Well, the UI change as the lead developer showcased, definitely looks good. Besides the workflow which still needs to be looked into, I would suggest using AJAX – JQuery API for this, so as to minimize number of calls to server; also, we should look into the existing .js scripts so as to replace so many of them with a few more optimized ones, and also, fine tune the back-end db to execute the existing PERL scripts that we need to run still. Since we’re optimizing the front-end, I would also strongly suggest replacing the 100+ images on site with a single CSS Sprite. All of this taken together, am sure, would decrease the current load time from, 10 seconds right now to less than 4 seconds. and then we can fine tune further. All of this taken together will give an excellent user-experience since registration process will be faster and completely hassle-free!”.
The difference is not showcased in the knowledge – but in the positive feedback and overall picture of the scenario.
Which brings us to the question – when does one look at the bigger picture? My answer to this is always simple – if you wish to control your life, and contribute positively into anything you are currently working on, unless you are dead bored with your job and life; then always start looking at the bigger picture along with focussing on the finer details.
Unique example is Steve Jobs. 100 new product ideas which are generated at different levels in Apple when brought to him every week – Steve destroys most of these ideas at their very inception only. That’s because he has a terrific god-gifted knack of knowing what might work and what wouldn’t work for sure in the Silicon Valley. But he has a terrific eye for details as well. Vic getting a call on Sunday because the shade of yellow on 2nd ‘o’ in Google didn’t look right on an iPhone 3G is an iconic story. Thus, grasp of both – the bigger picture and finer details is necessary if you wish to make it big some day.
By big – I mean – being happy of being able to contribute something positive in a product or service that changed the world, and definitely being happy monetarily and physically as well.
And final virtue is passion. A research done in 2010 said – Indians are the most passionate about their jobs. So, if you’ve found your calling, then that’s it. If you haven’t, don’t waste your time, energy and more preciously your life on something that doesn’t make you feel good. Make an effort, and make a change. If required – learn a new programming language, learn a new spoken language, make friends, make a change. Take a risk. Find out what makes you get up in the middle of the night wanting to get ready and go to work? What makes you feel so happy – you wouldn’t even trade places with God himself? The day you feel that, and feel you have found it, well, you’ve found it all.
I wouldn’t dare to paraphrase Steve himself, but as he said in the Stanford University Commencement Ceremony 2005 – “I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
The key takeaways from this small para are worth in millions:
> Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.: Your boss shouts at you every day, your previous 2 organizations went bankrupt, you were laid off 2 times, your dad passed away when you were having the worst of times. As Jesus says in the Bible – ‘Even in the deepest of your doubts, never give up! Thou shalt not lose faith‘. I worked for a company in India which was started in a small rented house, and today is a 200-Crore company after it went public. The owner & CEO to whom I reported every day, once told me – this was his 5th start-up which succeeded. 4 previous ones had failed. So, never lose faith – even in the worst of adversity. –> A definite sign I look for in people when I wish to hire someone. Cause when the chips are down, you want someone who will still have a smile on his/her face.
> You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.: For many, work is a “job” which pays their bills. For some (thanks to God), work is fun, so technically, they work 24/7. Thus, if you’re in need of this calling, you better give it a thought. –> Another definite sign I look for. Winners have it always. They are so excited about their work and life, its always intertwined.
> If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.: It doesn’t mean Steve is asking you to change jobs every 6 months or so. It means – ask yourself – whether the particular ‘small project’ or ‘process’ or ‘code development’ or ‘UI enhancement’ or ‘social media marketing campaign’ – you’re currently working on; what challenges you face and how to overcome them. Look for opportunities in your work, which besides giving you enjoyment, makes a positive contribution to the bottom-line of the company. Your boss may be too lazy to notice that for a while, but as it so happens, he and higher management will come to see the difference you’ve made. So keep looking for that X-factor in your work, ‘passion‘. –> Another definite sign of winners. They are never ever ever ever ever ever ever happy with the status quo. They want to make changes to it, and do/create/design/code/conceptualize something, which is better.
> As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.: Winners are never bored. They are always busy – doing things. And improving on the status quo. Relaxed ones who are happy always are the dangers to the work place. So once you have found the calling, you shall see that every thing falls in place.
Added to these qualities are – ‘one’s belief in his/her abilities’ + ‘creativity’ + ‘having appetite for taking risks’. If someone has this – doesn’t matter how many bad experiences you’ve had in the past and what language you speak – you’ll find what you love. And hold on to it.
As a conclusion, presenting 2 pics – one of Steve & Woz at Steve’s mum’s garage in 1975 cause they didn’t have enough money to get an office for the initial years. 2nd one – one of the last pics of Steve before stepping down from the most valuable company of earth, Apple Inc, 2011.