"I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped...for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn't what I was cut out to do.
But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I've felt stuck, is to remind myself that it's about the work. Because if you're worrying about yourself - if you're thinking: 'Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?' - then you're going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you'll always have a path. There's always something to be done."
Many a time, I have started and then given up when faced with a difficulty, or have been reduced to simply following someone else's instructions without really questioning or understanding why. And these are things I absolutely suck at - like swimming.
In my line of work, this experience that Obama recounts is absolutely critical. Unless we're passionate about shipping the product we're building, unless we really believe that what we're building will make a difference to the customer, we will be sidelined by someone that does. More importantly, we're constantly receiving critical feedback from customers (and sometimes positive feedback as well), and we simply cannot let that bog us down. And unless we really care about making a difference, we will be bogged down and be cautious and fail to ship.
If you're in the business of shipping products, the first thing you need is the desire to make a difference to your customer. Talent and ability are secondary.