Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is it…

That’s had me a little less than satisfied work-wise lately.

That’s what I’ve been pondering as there’s really no reason for me to feel that way.

I think I hit on it last night, and, in all honesty, it actually surprised me. It’s that I miss being ‘the man’, the guy in charge, the final answer on everything in my domain.

The fact is though; I don’t really miss it, at least on a conscious level. I sure don’t miss the late night and weekend phone calls, the endless hours, after hours, working evenings, weekends and holidays whenever there was a problem.

I don’t miss any of those things at all.

I do miss being the decision maker though.

Being the “buck stops here” guy has always appealed to me. I have a low tolerance for things not going how “I” think they should. So, when I’m the last word, I get things my way.

I’m actually fairly embarrassed by this self-discovery.

On the surface, and at my conscious level, I’ve loved the freedom from the responsibilities of the past decade. I get up in the morning; I go to work, do my thing all day working with great people and go home. No muss, no fuss and no ‘long nights’ without any financial reward.

So, that got me to thinking about ‘why’. Why I miss the command level position?

At this point I’ve decided it’s actually one of those parts of me, one I don’t think about very often, a part that likes to travel my own road. In the workplace, the only way you really get to do that, especially as a developer, is when you’re ‘in charge’.

I think that component of my personality comes through at work, to co-workers, supervisors and managers. It’s probably why, in virtually every company I’ve ever worked for I’ve been moved into a management slot in very short order.

Truthfully, I’ve never asked for, or sought, those promotions, just the opposite in fact. I’ve usually complained afterwards that I wasn’t getting to do the kind of work I wanted to do, I was spending more time managing than I was developing. However, somewhere along the line I started getting people around me who were so capable that all I had to do was tell them the general idea of what I wanted and they would make that happen.

It’s like I was developing through them. I was seeing my vision come into reality but they were making it happen.

Simply put, I got spoiled by the likes of Ken, Rick and Dale. They really did bring life to many, many things I dreamed up.

So now, I’m having this running conversation with myself, about all of this.

In short I:

  • don’t want to be the boss.
  • really love writing software, especially software that turns data, into useful information
  • like having a regular 8 work day
  • don’t miss the frantic nights and weekends solving yet another emergency
  • am actually working at what I should consider a dream job
  • will try to remember how much happier I am now, than I was a few years ago


I can always use those ‘recovered’ nights and weekends to:

  • enjoy extra time with my wife
  • get back in the gym, and into shape
  • build any little piece of software my heart desires
  • ramp back up on the truck project
  • explore writing and getting published on a regular basis
  • get focused again on what’s really important to me
Isn’t it funny, how, when we’re exactly where we said we wanted to be, that fact can slip through our fingers (well mine anyway) somehow?

I don’t know what it is about my brain, why it seems to always want me to be somewhere other than where I am. I think, at times, that I’ve beaten this particular demon and I’ve matured past it. However I’m beginning to think that’s just fooling myself and I’d be much better served if I remembered this little ‘quirk’ of mine, and be prepared for it, rather than surprised by it!!

For what it’s worth, this little revelation hasn’t changed my feelings from the previous post. Solidified them is more like it. I’ve gotten a new ‘lease’ on things, a new sense of purpose.

I’m going to find some interesting things to occupy the ‘extra’ time I have these days, I’ve been making notes on some article ideas, this weekend I’ll get back on the truck as it’s supposed to be almost 60 here, temps like that will allow me to put some primer down if I get that far.

It’s a Zen thing, this trying to live ‘in the moment’… I know now why some folks spend a lifetime trying to perfect it; it’s not at all easy to do!! My mind is constantly trying to sweep me forward, or backward, in time… when all I really want to do, is be right here, right now!

So what about you? Do you find yourself always focused on the future, or dwelling in the past? How do you get out of that trap?

As always, thanks for stopping by. Comments, thoughts and ideas are always greatly appreciated!!

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Spirit Of Owl said...

Oh dear...! I so identify with the wish to "be da man." I like to call the shots, and go with my instincts. And if things go wrong, I don't want to blame others.

As for the past and the future, I'm just beginning to really turn my sights from the past towards the future. It's taken a long time. It's taken blogging! But it's a useful turnaround for me, to let all that past go.

My concern is not to get too far ahead of myself, and make sure that yes, I live in the now. Of course I want to freely enjoy the new work, but I want the whole family to feel part of this upswing in events, which means of course not losing myself in the work and taking time to simply enjoy our family life. And indeed, just to enjoy life itself beyond the computer screen. :)

Firehawk said...


I think you've hit on the essential duality, the paradox of your temperment. I'm sure that there are many others who feel the same. They want to choose their own road and feel like they're "the man", but when they become "the man"...that mantle rests on troubled shoulders.

For me, I like a job I can leave behind at the end of the day, since I always have so many secondary and tertiary aspirations. That, and I feel that, if I get too involved with having a "career", it'll cause me to turn away from my other dreams.

Good post, once again. I know that my own "living in the moment" practice has a long way to go. I tend to be a spectator too much in my own life.

Chloe said...

Bill, when I was working, I missed being in school full time. Now I'm in school and I miss my old job. So I can't really pass along any words of advice, but I wish you luck in whatever comes next.

Trevor Record said...

I've been having trouble getting back in to work, but that's mostly because my morale is at an all-time low due to massive layoffs and rumors of further layoffs.

And I find happiness by enjoying the present, most of the time. But I also like to remember the good times. And I try to stay positive about that swirling malestrom that is the future.

Bill said...

Spirit - I hate finger pointing... as you'll see in my next post.

Man, going with my 'gut' on things has paid off so many times I find it hard to 'plan' the way I should for large projects... but, I'm learning.

Letting go of the past, can be especially hard, I know for me, letting go of mistakes is often the most difficult... There is indeed, life beyond the monitor!!

Firehawk - Ya know, I've never looked to be 'the man', rather I sought out opportunities to be self-guided... fir what ever reason, that often culminated in my being thrust into a mangerial role.

It would take a ton of money today, probably more than anyone would reasonably pay, for me to walk that path again. Like you, I've found that it detracts from my other interests and dreams!

I'm a long way from living in the moment myself!! I do keep working on it though!

Chloe - That's probably becuase each of those things fills a different need. Each important in its own right, but not totally fulfilling on its own.

I had to work when I went back to school, and even then I ran out of money before it was all said and done... I know though, had I not been working I would have missed it greatly.

Trevor - It sucks when the workplace is in a turmoil. Going in each day wondering if it's your day to feel the axe is a pressure none of us need. I hope that it levels out soon, and you're one of those left standing!

I think it's essential to remember the past, especially the good times, and to look toward the future with enthusiasm... but not so much so that we fail to enjoy what's going on, right here, right now!!


As always folks, I appreciate you stopping in, and taking the time to comment!

Comfort Addict said...

As someone who's been "the man," I definitely know the rush. However, I now am wary of being the man because, for me, it means that I've stopped growing. I've mastered a certain problem domain and I'm not far away from being stuck there. I actually realized this in my last assignment at my company and forcibly (as forcibly as a peon can) moved myself into a role where I was not so comfortable.

Some people sort of chuckled under their breath and thought that I was foolish to give up the position I had. I, however, think differently. I’ve always had a pretty good “stagnation detector” that tells me when to move on from my comfort zone. More often than not, this has been good for both my career and my wallet.

That’s the “future” side of me. I do think about the past, though, and sometimes do so more than I would like (as you know from reading my blog). I’ve gotten better at this than I used to be. However, I’d still like to be able to “smell the flowers and hear the birds” better than I do.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Bill said...

CA - There is a rush, isn't there? Hard to describe, but undeniable once you've felt it.

Corporate culture is all too often about not taking any chances so you'll retain that 'unblemished' record. I want an environment where risk taking, and even failure, is encouraged, because the organization understands that nothing of real value is obtained without some trial and error!!

I know there were probably a few folks who thought my shift a couple of years ago from management, back to development was an insane choice. For me though it's been despite the anxiety and lower income, a great step for my mental and professional health!

You're welcome for the post... but the truth is, if I don't write it, it stays stuck in my head! I'm just glad you read and enjoy it.