Best 5 minute meeting ever

So, here we are 3 years later.  

In 2011, I saw my name on a weird spot of an organization chart, 3 levels up from where it had been.  I was reporting to a Director (soon to be a Vice President) and my title was 'Architect'.

I went through all the phases of grief:
  • Shock: "Wow, look at all this stuff I need to understand!  I can do anything I want..."
  • Anger: "I've just butted heads with most everyone in power at my company.  I can't do anything I want."
  • Bargaining: "Maybe I can balance all this crap with things I like to do.  I can do something I want."
  • Acceptance: "There's an huge pile of work.  I'm spread paper thin. I can do a little bit of what I want."
During that time, I expected to live at all levels:  High-level strategy, designing new systems, coding, support/sustainment, etc.  I felt excited, because we needed help in all those places, and I thought I could do it all.

Boy howdy, was I wrong.  

At the end of the day, you've got to do something in your day-to-day that makes you happy.  You've got to feel that you're doing something relevant, measurable, and known. My work was so behind-the-scenes that it didn't influence my area's day-to-day at all.  To me, it was relevant, but in a probabilistic way--I'd do designs, sizings, and proofs-of-concept, but many weeks/months later would they get any action.  And I became an unknown entity...nobody knew who I was or what I was doing anymore.

I saw a great deal: Politics, pettiness, bravery, naïveté, and people searching for answers amid a swirling soup of change.  That sort of exposure changes you; I began to appreciate the grim, determined stoicism of some of my mentors.  You need that attitude to survive.

All that is to say, I was done.  After three years of "strategy," I was unfit to do my fundamental job of making things.  Code was becoming more and more unnatural, but each time I did get to code going back to my regular day-to-day strategy job was simply painful.  And I never, ever had a sense of job satisfaction, that I was doing a good job.

Some unexpected positives came from it:  I learned to stop being so needy of my job, my profession.  Like many men, I'd had my self-worth entirely wrapped-up in my job.  That, oddly, made me worse at my job.  I needed people to like and appreciate what I was doing, and became defensive, fractious, and condescending when they didn't.  In my strategy job, it was essentially impossible for anyone to appreciate what I was doing--in some cases, I couldn't even tell them because doing so would violate SEC regulations--so I was left to turn towards my family and my Lord above.  Looking back on it, I'm a better person for having had this job.

All that to say:  As of 10am or so today, I've got something to deliver by the end of this year.  It's big.  It's hard.  It's technical, and it's important.  I'll need to do analysis, design, implementation, delivery, and sustainment, and I'll be consulting with a broader team to do it, a team I've worked with in the past.

So.  Fricking.  Happy.


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