You’ll possibly find it funny that I didn’t know that Adam Gilchrist was a famous cricketer (read the full story below). I had little interest in cricket and I hardly knew any Indian or Australian players except the most famous once. That created no problems for me other than funny remarks from colleagues that I didn’t know about the game that my own countries (India’s and Australia) were so passionate about.
How successful someone is in their career is clearly seen by the passion they show about it. Passionate people deal with challenges more easily than those who do something just for the sake of it.
But what if you are not passionate about something and it’s just an interest? Well, the good news is that you can develop an interest and become better. Although in this post I will focus more on how passion helps you grow in your career.
Let me start with a story first!
Few years ago I received a phone call from an acquaintance who told me that he had a breakfast invitation for me with Adam Gilchrist.
“Well, a breakfast sounds great. But who is Adam Gilchrist and what does he do?”, I replied to my connection.
There was a pause on the other end of the line. The silence broke and the person on the line informed me with a disappointing tone that Adam was a famous Australian cricketer. Then he asked me whether I watched any cricket.
In fact I never had any interest in cricket. And therefore, I politely declined that invitation. I knew that if I had attended, people would have talked about cricket and my contribution (or the lack of that) could have got a bit awkward for Mr. Gilchrist and others.
That story ended there. However, the theme didn’t seem to.
Later in the year I attended a training on Agile processes organised by my employer. During lunch I started chatting with the trainer.
Being a practitioner, mostly you talk about your common area of expertise. So I asked the trainer, “Melbourne has many good Agile meetups going. Do you attend any?”
The trainer replied that he was often busy and doesn’t get time for attending meetups and events. Fair enough!
In order to not sounding rude, I acknowledged that response with a neutral statement and said that there was a conference coming where few famous Agile practitioners were speaking. Of course, I mentioned few names which our trainer didn’t seem to recognise. And at the next moment, he disappeared in the oblivion.
Actually, he didn’t return to continue the conversation and avoided any other discussion where any such references were used. I have a feeling that he only knew what the training material referred to.
The first scenario above demonstrates my ignorance about about the game of cricket and a well known player. Since I never had any interest in cricket, not recognizing Adam Gilchrist is hopefully pardonable.
I believe that it is okay not to know someone from a field that has little or no impact on you or your profession. But I think it is not okay to not know people who have made significant impact on the particular craft that you belong to.
I would be surprised to meet those physicists who don’t know Richard Feynman or Stephen Hawking or Neil Tyson. How would you feel if you ask an aspiring (Hollywood) actor what she thinks of George Clooney and she shows her ignorance about George Clooney’s existence? I would be surprised too, even shocked!
Although it seems to me that it is only the tech industry that appears to be losing it.
I come across programmers writing applications in Ruby on Rails but never thought of knowing the origin of its creation. I come across multitude of testers who never know anything about testing beyond writing test scripts.
Does it really matter?
Not knowing the originators or those who have spent years practicing and developing the craft you work in may not affect you in your job, if it is only a job for you that pays a wage that pays your bills. That is, you are in a 9-5 job and don’t really care as long as it is provides ‘job safety’ and pays on time.
Where it might affect your growth is in the community and at employers who are passionate about their crafts. Why? Because that shows that you are not passionate enough.
Technology has made this world much smaller than you may think. It is far more easier to know about individuals and their skills.
Don’t let lack of interest be your enemy for your next job..!