Bass Solos and Job Satisfaction

Before getting into today’s post, I want to quickly share a link. A short while back, one of my posts (Translation’s Identity Crisis) was translated into Spanish and posted on the Júramelo blog as ‘La crisis de identidad de la traducción‘.

It’s brilliant to be able to read yourself in another language and it’s a great initiative – using translation to share articles about translation should be the norm. So, if you fancy reading a bit of JALTraducción for a change, head on over!

Anyway, as for today, I have something that probably counts as slightly off-topic but I still feel it is well worth sharing.

The story starts last week when I travelled down to Birmingham to attend a clinic with Mr Big bassist Billy Sheehan. Chances are that the majority of you have never heard of Billy but he is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock bassists of all time having played for and with a number of legendary acts over the course of a career spanning more than 40 years.

That night, Billy was giving a kind of bass masterclass and, even though I don’t play bass, the opportunity to meet and listen to one of my musical heroes talk about his extraordinary career was too good to turn down (essentially, clinics like this are a bit like a small-scale conference for music geeks – you get to listen to an expert in their field demonstrate some of their skills and share their experiences before launching into questions about their industry and generally talking about geeky things with other like-minded individuals).

As impressive as the playing was and as entertaining as Billy’s anecdotes were, however, the thing that really stood out for me was the fact that Billy is clearly still deeply in love with what he does. He spoke with such enthusiasm for all things music and, when fielding a question about how he passes his spare time, he was honest in saying that music is pretty much his entire life – when he’s not on the road or recording, he enjoys nothing more than to listen to music and discover new tracks and artists.

Speaking about endorsements, he explained how he is never paid to endorse gear but rather lends his support to the instruments, amps etc. that he genuinely enjoys using. Ultimately, beyond money, success and recognition, an overwhelming love for music has defined his career path.

While Billy also had the talent and good fortune to turn his passion into a hugely successful career, after around 6,000 gigs this is a man who clearly still loves what he does.

Job Satisfaction - Victoria Stanway

Job Satisfaction – Victoria Stanway

Beyond the world of music, meanwhile, there are indications that more and more people are looking to take control of their careers and follow their passion in the workplace in general.

In the UK, self-employment is higher than at any point over the past 40 years, with this rise predominately down to fewer people leaving self-employment than in the past, and talk of ‘monetising your passion‘ crops up with increasing regularity these days.

And for me, it seems that this desire to work in an area that you love is something that is strongly reflected within translation. Judging by the translators I know and interact with on social media, the vast majority genuinely enjoy what they do. Despite the gripes of long hours and potentially low pay that regularly crop up in discussion, people love the task at the heart of our profession to the point of rendering these drawbacks almost irrelevant.

I consider myself lucky to do something that I genuinely enjoy and I believe that’s the way it should be. Reading and writing about translation (and translating itself, of course) dominate my daily life and I can’t imagine it being any other way.

Ultimately, if Billy’s example is anything to go by, then beyond the obvious requirement of a considerable dose of talent, an overwhelming passion for what you do has a fundamental role to play in the longevity and success of your career.

Agree? Disagree? Do you love what you do or try to keep work separate from your own, private interests? Leave a comment and let me know.

8 thoughts on “Bass Solos and Job Satisfaction

  1. Nikki Graham says:

    Nice post, Joseph, although I do hope we do not love our jobs so much that we overlook the drawbacks, or, heaven forbid, think that they are irrelevant. I’m sure our “passion” for our work often just simply leads to us being further exploited.

    • jaltranslation says:

      Very true Nikki, a wise word of caution and something that opens up a whole series of interesting questions.

      I guess my example was tailor-made for a more romantic view of our profession, in reality there are so many other factors in play and, as you say, real dangers of exploitation. No matter how much I love my work, I won’t accept sub-standard rates due to the consequences it can have further down the line.

  2. Alina Cincan says:

    I can’t imagine doing something I don’t like or where the drawbacks outnumber the satisfactions. If that’s the case (and this can be applied to most things in life), I would stop doing it and start afresh.

    I too believe it’s important to do what you love. I’ve always put passion in my work. When I was a teacher, I loved it. When it stopped being less about teaching and more about paperwork and sleepless nights, I focused more on my other love:translations. Sure, this has its ups and downs, but as long as it’s mostly ups and I enjoy doing what I do, I’ll continue.

    As usual, a great post, Joseph. Thank you!

    • jaltranslation says:

      Thanks for the comment and the interesting insight Alina 🙂

      Teaching is a great example. I have lots of friends in teaching who love the classroom side of their work but find the administrative workload taking up the majority of their time.

      It’s a bit of a compromise between the positive and negative aspects of your work and I think this balance is different for everybody. I similarly know plenty of people who just see work as a means to an end and that works well for them. They can keep their private and professional lives separate and that means they appreciate their passions even more when they have the chance to indulge them.

      I find it a really interesting topic (as you can probably tell :P). Thanks again, have a great week.

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