Five and a half years later, the uncertain road ahead is back. I woke up yesterday, a bit earlier than usual, and performed my regular morning routine. I commuted to work as usual, except my friend, who was also headed to the train station, saw me waiting for the bus and gave me a ride. Things were seemingly normal at work. I went in for my weekly 1:1 meeting with my manager, and he stated that he had bad news and HR was on the phone. These are two things you generally do not want to hear and combined together, it is guaranteed to be bad. My manager started reading some legal sounding text to me that ends with “terminate your employment.”
The other day I was feeling a bit guilty about some things I should be doing every day, like working out, and haven’t made it a habit yet. A bit later, I though of a few more things I should do, like taking vitamin supplements, and I began to feel a bit concerned. There are so many things I should do every day. Is there really time to do them all? And if I do them all, what time is left for doing the many things I don’t’ do every day, but should do every week or every month? Now, all of a sudden, all of my time is allocated and I don’t even have time allocated for relaxation and fun, unless those are part of the list, in which case I don’t’ think I have enough time.
Three weeks ago, I was on top of the world at work. We were finally getting resources to help with my project, things were getting organized like I have been trying to do for months, and it looked like we were on our way to building a great team in St. Petersburg. It was also looking like I would be able to finally get approval to attend a technical conference that would really help me a lot with work. Two weeks ago, I was also so consumed by work, that I worked all day, much of the evening, went to bed for about five hors, and started over again. I even worked a significant amount on weekends and during a family vacation so i could keep the work moving forward. It was tiring but I was excited.
This week, I need to clear my head more than ever. About three months ago, my manager opened up a position to hire a manager for our group. To this point, we have been reporting directly to him, a director in our company. He has wanted to hire a manager for quite a while, In fact, about a year ago, he got the OK, but then that requisition was taken away. At that time, I was not interested at all in being the manger and didn’t’ think much of it.
I think most of us would like to think that it would be a better world without exams, and yet we all know they are necessary and good. So, what do I mean by exams? I guess I could say performance or recital or final or test or deadline or competition or game or goal. We need to have things in our life that point us towards a milestone or particular point. Without these exams, we seem to lack the urgency to get something done. We tend to drag things on and not quite get to the point of completion. With a pending exam date, we push ourselves or are pushed towards something. We know there is a point where we have to show what we know or can do.
I was on the phone the other day with my friend and somehow we got talking about business. He has started several businesses and is currently running a successful consulting business and doing quite well. He told me he has observed a principle that seems to always hold true: risk and reward – the more risk, the more potential reward. He told me a story of two painters, Ted and Bill, going to the same university at the same time. They were both very talented and graduated with degrees. Ted took a secure and good job at a computer company as a graphic artist. This was not Ted’s ideal job but the safe bet. He has done well for himself and has provided a nice income and stability for his family. As Ted finds time, he still paints but more for himself than anyone else. Ted would still like to be able to make a living as a painter but probably doesn’t see how.
Bill, took a big risk. He moved his family to a small town where he could rent a studio for very little money. Bill’s family was very poor for many years and went without many comforts as Bill developed his style and skills. Now, Bill is a very successful and famous painter making a great living and doing what he loves to do.
I’ve been thinking about how hard things have been at work this past year and trying to analyze it to see what I can learn. A year ago, I was given the most difficult writing project I have ever had. The assignment was to work on an extremely high profile product that needed me to do more work in a very short amount of time than ever before. Add to this the following challenges:
- Working within a new development process that was not designed for writers (our version of scrum) and makes getting my job done much more difficult.
- Finding time to train a brand new writer while still trying to meet aggressive writing deadlines.
- Losing that writer due to layoffs just as she was trained and being shorthanded at the worst possible time.
- Losing the other writer that was helping me at the same time I lost the first writer for five weeks.
- Being given two new contract writers in Russia that speak English as a second language and needing to train both of them on the product and writing.
I had what I felt was an almost impossible task . More recently, even more bad things have been happening at work that don’t create more work, but make my job a lot less enjoyable. So, what am I to do and how do I survive?