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Succeeding under pressure at work 1: Example: Animation jobs
Succeeding under pressure at work is all the more important in todays competitive hire and fire job scenario. I talk about this issue in the field I know most about which is animation.
Hubpages and its community is such an engaging experience which constantly drives someone to get involved more often.
I started here as an art writer. So publishing my every hub meant days if not months of preparation because what is an art article without artworks.
But a visual artist like a creative writer makes me very aware of affairs not related directly to art because the subjects we interpret are anything and everything we see, hear and imagine. Hence that explains my deep interest in world affairs, economics, lifestyles and culture, entertainment, wildlife and the list goes on.
And hence I present a new series of work-related hubs where I use formulas which were tried and tested by myself over the 18 years of my working life. It is about succeeding under pressure at work. Though I take animation as an example because I experienced it while on my animation job, the solution maybe applied to any job you are in right now.
This hub addresses one instance of how I emerged after a good amount of work pressure imposed upon me. Here is my formula of a solution I arrived at, which worked well for me. But I am not denying it needed persistence of goals we had set out to ultimately achieve for ourselves in the wide future. I don't regret though it never came easy, I mean the assertive approach I had to take. It is all too simple to take a situation at face-value and react in such a way which may seem right at that moment but make us regret as we mature in our work-lives.
By writing this I hope you could pick up some tips so that you are not clueless or taken-aback and rather be able to put it in the right perspective and remain assertive while not losing the larger goals every individual in that team with diverse (sometimes conflicting) temperaments have set out to accomplish. I think it always better if I warn my future generation to be aware of such situations.
At this point I must mention that there was once a very popular technologist who worked with me who just refrained from teaching what he had learned from his fruitful career and plainly admitted that he wanted everyone else aspiring for a position as him to scourge through the same way he did as he never got it easy and he made it through various unfairness of being deprived from being trained by his seniors. Besides he was a school drop-out and believed he made it only through his hard work. All that sounds great except keeping his knowledge within wraps. I must tell you that today this person’s life has been reduced to only his narrow thinking. He is not enjoying an ideal life he dreamed of by holding back information.
Looking back, I often wonder in absolute disbelief how creative some co-workers could get to make their peers absolutely miserable. Don't get me wrong here, this derogatory creativity is just an uncanny knack which does not take them very far. I stand personal testimony from my experience that their discreet and unprofessional ways have brought themselves to screeching halts in a prosperous career as far as monitory gains is concerned. Eventually all these gimmicks are boiled down to the dollars they could collect by trampling their counterparts. If one notices these people lead very unhappy lives because they are always on a panic mode because of the enemies they fear they have created. Hence they always have to look over their shoulders as they may have left a long trail of enemies.
A passion which acted as a booster: My passion in teaching had a lot to do with how I molded my career which eventually helped me out to act by empathizing on the person who abuses and assert my way out of stress. I am glad I delved into my first job as a teacher in graphics programming and the like and did my own research in animation even though a secure organized sector nor job did exist during those early years at least in my country. I will tell you in a moment how all this actually helped me in my work pressures.
The trouble was well worth: I had already been doing my research way before the Internet even came to my part of the world. I remember I got installments of information about animation of the Americas (which was in its Golden ages even then) at our city's American Consulate library in several floppy disks and photocopies of some of the animation news from reference books. Wow! Those were the days. Now, I find it so weird having had to go through all that to just to get a page of information when today we don’t have to think of spending eons of time to roll out reams worth of information as it is all there at a few key strokes and a google search. I can’t imagine there’s a tendency for taking information flow in this manner for granted. I am glad I saw the best of both worlds.
I believe being a person from a transitional time had been so instrumental in dealing with my first big job challenge which I am about to introduce you to below so you could see how you may deal with such a situation. But what I suggest and actually did took a long time but it was worth it for the inferences I could derive from it.
One Job as grounding for the other: My first job was in the family owned business as an IT and Design Trainer long before the word Graphic Design ever came to our regions. That was the late eighties during the days of Programming languages such as BASIC and FORTRAN, and I gladly remember that my teaching how to draw using BASIC was what stemmed my interest and initial tenure in animation with graphics programming. My sustenance in the field of Web Development today and hard-coding my own website is nothing but because of that.
This grounding along with my urge to draw, every waking hour outside of work and play gave me enough grounding for a possibility in the field of animation. As typical of any creative workplaces job pressure, creative, technical and administrative are all too common. Because I was to new, then I never guessed that a challenge with a twist was just awaiting me around the corner.
Great happy start: So as I took up my first commercial job as an animator in Mumbai, this teaching spirit instilled in me a constant need to learn, share and an opportunity to perform myself than the regular teacher’s duties of sending off their batch of students to perform while they take on another generation of learners. But at work, we get to learn, churn out new programs and teach the team while performing close to perfection, competitively as we are put through a mandatory appraisal directly linked to our client’s satisfaction. Hence there is low-tolerance for mistakes as it would be at the cost of our jobs.
I am also glad that I was a self-taught artist, that also added to my drive to learn new technology in art & animation on need-basis by myself. I chose not to take an art degree because I did not want to learn about other artists and their works before I mastered art, deign and animation by myself and before I had a chance to evolve my own styles. After which I thought I would be ready to learn about other artists and perhaps fine-tune what I did not have in me. (I would be pleased if newbies to art, design and animation see this point before they tread into uncharted territories by paying huge fees, only to realize that they may be a greater fit in some other discipline.) The route I took also happened because in those days art and animation was still new, though great artists had been churned out in the west and many of their works were already selling in the millions, in my home country there was a notion which made people fear in the “starving artist” phenomenon. So I felt I rather give art a sideline. However I went to school for Math and Management which really needed for us to run the mile and do a thesis to find out if we are fit. I thought with this done I am all set, but I was wrong. I never did start my career related to it as my passions just would not let me to. So while I grew as a person to condition myself in life by knowing these business subjects, there I was an animator with a business degree. It was all too happy for me when I started my job. Art & Animation jobs are all about interests and drive. I was thoroughly enjoying the glamorous part of it.
The Secret tool
When at work the secret recipe is that we get to perform better with more skills added with each project. New software releases may not be of concern for a result-oriented worker because he/she gets to learn on-the-go while performing his/her duties to create the ideal output by a demanded deadline. This fashion of learning while working is such a great work-out of the brain so that when a human-being learns on a need-basis by researching, and with mentors only to give you a nudge like a mother bear to her cubs, one can never ever forget that learned tool. This has worked for me better than someone teaching me over a formal session and shoving their ideas down my throat where I will have to then practice on mock projects to relearn many times, perhaps only trying out what the teacher has professed.
I am glad that was not the case for me because at a certain point in my work-life. My perseverance helped because I had to stay away from a very important software in the industry and coming back to it after a whole 6 months never slowed me down while reacquainting myself with the tools I had feared I may have forgotten.. This is exactly like how we could never forget to ride a bicycle if we had manned one before or never forget how to swim if we have done a free-stroke before.
Hence the method I went through worked well (lucky for me) and is testimony that at the end of it one gets rewarded for what is accomplished on the job than the degrees one holds. Of course my degrees were important for me in another way, hailing from a non-English native, developing country, it has helped me in several ways to be able to write, interact and relate to an international audience in an agreeable way and be able to get involved in world affairs.
All this, was an account to instil in you that how important passion, drive and actually participating in any work as good grounding for a later crisis just as how agriculture and farming is so important to sustain in some countries during this bitter recessionary time.
Tackling a number of issues of gravity which typically most of us get thrown into at any work place is definitely a possibility if the person has enough grounding in ones skills and integrity. Every job, believe me you, has a scape-goat which magically sits there like a Lucifer picking on your every moves to throw into virtual hell. I learned from my experience traveling and working that whether it be USA or Asia or the Middle-East, nobody is safe from tough people or tough situations at work.
Taking you now into the problem I had to tackle once. Funny I never panicked even at that time, but really took addressing and asserting the situation very seriously. Thinking back on those years, I think I came out of it pretty unhurt. ;o) You will soon learn what was the key to how I escaped being shattered.
Let me take you to one example of a point in my career where I was singled out and deprived of some rights at the work-place.
Prejudice born out of twisted biases: This was actually born out of a certain prejudice. There was group-ism and segregation exactly in the animation community in that region just like caste-systems, based on the software the animator had access to. Even today this stigma exists. One simple example is the constant debate between Mac-users & PC-users. In my context it was the a Unix-based Animation software vs a PC-based software a very popular one too. I am refraining using the actual names because I don’t want to offend anyone. Please do understand that this hub is derived from my views alone.
The Unix-based (I’ll give it a code letter AA) ones were a rich man’s equipment purchased only by large studios whereas the modest PC animation tool (I’ll give it a code letter PA) was the thing of the smaller entities. The “AA” considered themselves the elite as they also got paid much more. I still think that there were “PA” users who topped in creating better looking animation than the “AA” users at the time. “PA”s got sold in droves, which gave access to natural talent with an open-source training ritual whereas the “AA”s were closed-doors in teaching the software tools, making its tutorials too expensive or difficult to find.
There were other prejudices that also existed like 3D vs 2D, with the 3D revolution at that time in my country, making the naive think that 3D was trendy and expensive and cel and 2D animation was old, boring and cheap to buy. I remember at one time one of our accounts executives had sold 3D Television Channel Idents. to a Television Station, when Satellite television was just new. The client was so ignorant that he requested for a couple of 2D animation as bonus for purchasing all of the 3D works. When in actuality 2D rates are 3 folds that of 3D, for the work we have to put in.
With this said let me tell you how I found myself in the problem. Our branch-head of that conglomerate studio was a crafty person who ultimately robbed the employer off several millions because his misappropriation of funds and resources were over-looked for too long.
Diversification: I was an animator who did my own drawing, did 2D and 3D with storyboards done by myself. Today such a person is referred to as a generalist animator (I will publish another hub for you on this soon) who could do the job with no assistance as he was a specialist in all of the sub-disciplines of animation.
The head was not pleased when the clients preferred the generalists. All the personnel he had recommended and got recruits were only part-skilled and the clients not going to his boys did not make him look good in front of the Human Resources Dept. This made him come with the most unbelievable policy…A rule only implemented for myself?! I was for a moment in horror when forbade me to use any 3D software. But I had crutches in place so I did not fall. It was obviously because he wanted my clients to turn to someone else for 3D jobs. And make me do limited duties by force to show when I am appraised in paper that I never accomplished them. Luckily, my deprivation at work did me no harm work-wise because by that time I had bought my own 3D tool at home. So I never worried a moment about the politics and went about doing my job required whilst enjoying doing 3D at home as a hobby or my external clients. But in a short while this strategy anyway did not work for him as the clients want their way when they are paying for a service.
Though I was re-instated with the 3D duties after a few months, my point is at that moment of professional humiliation, if I was a bookish person who never trained myself with a grounding in the field and without having alternative disciplines as knowledge-base, I know I would have had to make a hoo-ha over it. How glad was I that I learned to develop more than one skill so I could make up and still be happy because I have been working on all the disciplines with equal favor, devotion and passion.
This approach can never make an animator without a project and forever he/she will have the ability and confidence to create a job to ones liking. The above never allowed my confidence break apart because I grew myself into being a generalist.
Listen to this example! When I was directing one of my animators at a recent film post-production, I was horrified when he informed me that he was an animator of only the "human walk". He called himself an animator but never even was aware of the techniques to animate anything else. I wanted him to rig (*) a 3D model from our archives and possibly animated it. But alas! he was a specialist of todays hollywood work culture. I had to ask my other animator to rig the model for him.
* The term rig in animation is an operation in 3D character animation where the animator has to place bones within the object to actually control intricate movements typical of living things – this can also be applied to inanimate objects – I promise I will cover this topic in another hub. Meanwhile google is your best friend to learn about it.
Going back to our animator pal, f he had a similar challenge I had, he won’t have an alternative career to fall back on.and he could not. He actually did a course to learn this specialization. You don't even want to know the huge dollars he paid for it. Again don't get me wrong. I don't mean to defame anyone here. Today he is a great animator ( I will introduce him soon in a hub someday) but at that time he was only a fresher out of an animation course. So it was not his fault for not knowing that he has to diversify. Today the work-place has taught him to learn what is needed to survive.
I am sure all fields of work offer opportunities to separate it into sub-disciplines so that one can specialize equally well in all those so when a crisis strikes they could rise up to the occasion and rescue themselves to make-up them being disadvantaged. The same thing applies to businesses. Having more than one service or product in your product list slightly diverse from each other could help you in many situations. Today markets and economy are the biggest scape goats in our jobs and businesses, where we find one service has a dorment period while the others demand has peeked. For example: market traders with their stocks in different commodities. Gold, Oil, Currency. Like the gold growth is inversely proportionate to that of oil and the dollar. I am sure you understand the reference. And I am glad this hub helped me too brush up on these essentials.
These views are from my own experience at the work-place and different markets. Please do pardon me if some of you choose to differ. That's fine. But this has worked for me and I hope it can for you too if similar encounters come by.
Thanks for reading. Good luck to you all!
Do you agree with my method of trying to succeed under pressure at work?
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Aren't there quite a few "Lesser Remembered Supervisors" at some point in our work-lives when we just wanted to let go of the job if it meant freedom from a higher-up that kept picking on their subordinates.