Periodically I pause for reflection. I look back over the years and try to fathom my achievements, tally my failures and come to some kind of reckoning. Each time I do this, I start by wondering “what could have been” … it makes me think through the alternative choices that I would have had to make to succeed in another life/career path.
One of my early career non-choices was in academia. I was, for a while, rather enamoured with teaching and research — and had the opportunity to meet and work with some inspiring and genuinely funny people. One such person, Jennifer Barry spent many years after study working in arts administration. With a sharp mind and a razor wit, she would work through the many challenges that come with theatre production, managing the creative AND the business elements all on a miniscule budget. There were late nights, early mornings, pressures of all shapes and sizes. There were demands for more, demands for less and a need to balance the expectations of friends, family, colleagues, boards and even government bodies. Her dedication was enormous. But it was a dedication that also required significant sacrifices — for this was no ordinary job. And the Company could certainly never have paid Jennifer an hourly salary.
In a similar vein, Steven Collin’s post on creative sacrifice reminds us that dedication and sacrifice go hand in glove.
For those who work in a creative field (and let’s face it, we all do), the personal distinction between what should be called work and what is “life” is decidedly fuzzy. As Jennifer continually demonstrated and as Stephen argues, dedication goes beyond the mere requirements — there is a deeper commitment — to outcomes.
You see, ideas are easy, and talk is cheap. Dedication, however, drives us towards the achievement of a goal. It makes us question the manner in which we “invest” our time and energy, and asks us to reprioritise — sometimes harshly. Look around you — there will be people who may have talent. Others with “vision”. But the only thing that counts is the end result. And when you stand back in a year’s time and reflect on what has come and gone, all the petty barbs and daily niceties will have evaporated from your mind. You will only mark your triumphs or failures. And each are valuable in their own way.