Thursday, September 27, 2012

Of Satellite Launches and Commitment

A recent incident within the family got me thinking about the whole nature of commitment at work. My wife and I went to Mumbai as one of the elders in the family had passed away. That day was a red-letter day in Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s history: They were scheduled to launch their 100th satellite.

The younger son of the deceased – let me call him Ravi, is a test engineer at ISRO. He was to be at the launch site, and instead came to Mumbai for the funeral – shattered and scattered. After he performed the last rites of his mother, the first thing he asked when he came home was to turn on the television. He then sat in front of the TV and followed the launch of the satellite.

There, as I saw him fully hooked to the TV, I noticed a certain ambivalence in him. On one hand, there was pain of losing his dear mother and on the other, a deep sense of concern for the outcome of the launch. When the launch was declared a success, he heaved a sigh of relief. And why not! He was part of the team that had tested each and every aspect of the rocket that went into space.

Like Ravi, people in the government are not really paid big salaries. They have modest means of earning and living – very different from the private sector. The sense of commitment was outstanding! As I thought about this incident, it helped providing answers pertaining to purpose and commitment.

What really motivates people is a sense of purpose. What really drives commitment is a clearly stated goal, and a will to succeed. Commitment really comes from within. It depends largely on how you have been wired, how you have been shaped by the environment, how you have risen to the high demands placed on you.

I was absolutely in awe of all the people at ISRO and their leadership team, including former Director, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam for instilling a culture of commitment, excellence and pride in what they do for this country. They have managed to instill a deep sense of purpose and patriotism.

Coming to think of it, the light bulbs flashed – commitment is no rocket science!


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  2. Life's incidents are the best teacher. Your stories are helping us build character and imbibe in us great qualities such as commitment. Commitment comes from within - with a deep sense of responsibility, empowerment and ownership. Love all your stories - this is the 13th one on this blog - keep them coming, sir!

  3. "commitment is no rocket science!" more than the story,last line itself is motivating and inspirational :)