A friend of mine, Brad, was a very brilliant and accomplished veterinarian with one minor impediment in his career path; he hated his job. Brad lost the passion he once had, and both he and his wife knew what he had to do: quit. Later, Brad tried his hand at professional fishing and selling cars (two very typical Ph.D. career paths) before eventually returning to his veterinary practice, but more importantly, he rediscovered his passion.
Personally, over the past 35 plus years in the environmental business, I’ve seen plenty of examples of passionate and indifferent professionals – the contrasting results are stark.
I was fortunate to work with a colleague early in my career who was passionate about getting the job done, and done right. This led us to escapades such as carrying a 16-foot boat with a motor, samples containers, and equipment over boulders the size of small homes so we could launch into Lake Erie. It was the only way we could get the best possible water samples (with just a small risk to life and limb). Another time we spent the better part of a week, including about 20 weekend hours, in an old, turn of the (last) century sewer in the inner city of Detroit (with cockroaches the size of Volkswagen Beetles) so we could get the right flow measurements for our client.
To no surprise, the passionate way in which we approached simple sample collection led to very loyal clients. This would pay dividends in the coming years as the competition level increased several-fold in the emerging, environmental market.
This increasing competition wasn’t so kind to those budding environmental professionals who approached their jobs with indifference or with a singular focus on the next order. They couldn’t survive the massive changes in the market, and they became obsolete with the next lowest bid. The “value” they brought to the market was low bid. The lesson I learned early on in my career was low bids can easily be bettered, but those who have genuine passion for excellence have a more lasting value.
I still work with that colleague from my youth; he sits down the hall from me. Now I just have many more colleagues in multiple offices who share in this passion for our clients and for getting it right. As for my friend, Brad, last I heard he was still passionately involved in the veterinary sciences and was practicing somewhere in Germany.