How much are you willing to sacrifice?

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I truly enjoyed listening to Leonard Downie Jr. today as he shared with us about his life-long career in the Washington Post.

He is clearly passionate about journalism and very inspiring to someone like me who is just getting started. His stories encouraged me to think about what kind of career I envision for myself in the future.

What impacted me the most out of everything he said today  was, “I’ve gone through three marriages and three sets of children without ever being home for dinner.” He said that while talking about leadership and how hard they to work at the Post.

His statement made me question myself about how much is too much to give up for a successful career.  What is success anyway? How do I define success for my life?

I surely want to be a successful visual journalist that makes a difference in this world, even if in a small way. I want to be really good at what I do by telling stories that make people think, cry, laugh and hopefully take positive action when needed.

Most of all, I want to be a good father and husband. My family is more important to me than any successful career. I would rather be successful in their eyes than in the eyes of a million strangers.

The challenge for me then is how to be successful both as a family man and as a journalist.

Insights anyone?

3 Comments on “How much are you willing to sacrifice?”

  1. Thank you very much for your feelings. Good blog. Miles to go before we sleep. The journalist who are living in Srilanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are really facing challenges to tell the truth.

    Life is difficult. Life is suffering. Enjoy it.

  2. I cringed a little when I heard him say that as well. I’m ready to give a lot to this profession, but I am not ready to sacrifice my family and/or future wife. The message seems to be “if you want to be successful in X profession, you’ll have to sacrifice your family/social life.” This is a warning you hear a lot in the top professions in the world.

    I think that it is not fully necessary for success though. I have always wanted to go into law. I have talked with a number of lawyers who have gone through divorces and custody battles because their profession took up their family time. This summer I met a lawyer who was able to balance his profession with his family. He told me that his wife made him promise that, no matter what, he would always be home for dinner at 6. He could go back to the office after dinner if he needed, but he always had to be back at 6. Setting boundaries like this are the key to surviving in this hectic world of journalism. There is hope to maintain your family and career aspirations.

  3. Without any offense, if Downie lived in Pakistan, he would perhaps go through six marriages and six sets of children without ever being home for lunch and dinner. I can’t talk about the US but in my country a journalist is expected to do multiple tasks (not to become professionally “successful” but to win bread and butter to his kids).
    It is very simple: If you don’t do it, you will get fired and someone else will replace you ( in spite of all the wired expectations and tasks).
    I worked for Daily Times ( for four years as the “bureau chief” (I know the title is very charming!) in the country’s largest province. Ironically, I ran the one-man bureau. My head office expected me to cover politics, crime, sports, economics, courts, human rights, eduction and almost everything from 30 districts ( I repeat 30 districts!!!).
    With all these odds, I would be required to compete with all other major newspapers (which would equally have the same number of correspondents and tasks). Missing a story would simply amount to losing one’s job the next day!
    I have been married for only one year. My wife has a lot of complaints to me for not giving ample time to the family. She thinks I had already been married (to journalism). She hates my laptop and the work on stories and articles throughout the night. I keep convincing her that journalism is a very competitive profession where only the fittest will survive.
    For those of you who have not entered into the world of journalism yet, I would sincerely suggest you to reconsider your approach if you want to have a comfortable life and seek to become a professionally successful journalist.

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