Goal met by 'just deciding'
At times in a work day and a career, a big task that needs to get done doesn't seem possible.
Time is short. Information is scarce. Money is tight. Perhaps people are against the project.
Then two things appear.
The best way to describe the first is to tell you about four words uttered in the opening episode of HBO's “The Newsroom” in June.
The program centers on a fictional cable news network and its newscast, “News Night.” This first episode introduces the premise of the show: Starting now, “News Night” will go in a radical new direction.
The character Charlie Skinner, an old-school journalist played by Sam Waterston, has revamped the show and reconfigured the staff to create a program about journalism and truth — not ratings.
As anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, puts it, “We don't do good television. We do the news.”
Waterston's character, who runs the news division, declares four words that capture my first point. He says them after the news crew successfully completed its first show with the bold new direction.
He explains to anchor McAvoy how the crew re-engineered the program: “We just decided to.”
Those are the four words: “We just decided to.”
The best way to describe the second thing is to tell you about Mark Cretcher. He owns Command X Digital Media, a video-editing and animation studio in Cincinnati.
About 10 years ago when computers and animation software were not what they are today, one of his clients gave him an impossible deadline.
The client needed a four-minute video of animation in a “Pixar-style 3-D cartoon” in 2 1⁄2 weeks. Two months to put such an assignment together would not be unreasonable, he says.
But completing the complex process of creating and manipulating images and letting the computer do its job known as “rendering” wasn't possible in a 2 1⁄2-week time frame.
“As I got into the project and realized it was taking around eight minutes to render each frame of animation, multiplied by 1,800 frames, it became clear that I had at least 10 straight days of rendering time alone,” he says. “That didn't leave any time for going home to bed.”
So he moved into his editing suite where he ate, slept and worked around the clock for two weeks.
“I calculated how long a render would likely take, then set my alarm to sleep one hour while the computer was working. Then I'd be awake for two to three hours animating and go back to sleep for an hour while the computer rendered.”
He too “just decided” he would do whatever it took to get the job done.
“There's the commitment you make to deliver on your promises in a commercial endeavor,” he says. “And there's a personal commitment to not fail at the task. I committed to it. And I'm not in the habit of failing.”
Then he found a way.
Those two things: The will, by just deciding, and figuring out the way to make it happen — in that order — can get you through anything. Even when a task seems impossible.
Look at what needs to get done. Dream your dream, even if it feels far from reach. Then engineer it back to earth.
As they used to say, “Where there's a will there's a way.”
Career consultant Andrea Kay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.