Until last week, I’d never heard of Ashok Gadgil. Thanks to this Co.EXIST article, I now know Gadgil is a professor who helped invent a means of disinfecting water using ultraviolet light. Thanks to Gadgil, five million people in India, Liberia, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Ghana have clean water every day.
Five million people. And although Gadgil’s work is recognized inside the science and engineering communities, he’s relatively unknown throughout the rest of the world. Even in the regions where his work saves lives on a daily basis, nobody knows his name.
Contrast that with the story of “Sully” Sullenberger, the fast-acting pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 who successfully landed the plane in the Hudson River after a run-in with a flock of Canadian geese. There were 155 people on that flight and Sullenberger made sure they all lived to tell the tale. Unlike Gadgil, Sullenberger’s heroism became a huge story.
What I don’t want to do is criticize the media or our culture. Nor do I want to diminish Sullenberger’s accomplishment in order to build up Gadgil’s. Rather, I mention both of these men in order to point out that sometimes people who save lives become national heroes and sometimes they don’t.
Just like Gadgil, the creative work you do gives life to people, whether anyone outside your inner circle recognizes it or not. My guess is that Ashok Gadgil is okay with that, and I hope you are too. My guess is that Gadgil’s secret is that he believes in what he’s doing.
Believe in the work, do the best work you can, and give life to people. Let that be enough. In the event that you become well known like Sully, handle it with humility like he did and go back to work.
Either way, we work for the Lord (Col. 3:23). Either way, we’ve got work to do.
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.