Monday, June 4, 2012

Change Agents up a Dead End Street


Your Worth

Today’s topic for discussion considers a pressing issue for many highly experienced and and most knowledgeable IT Professionals. What happens when you realize your talent is being wasted?
This is something I often see occurring. In fact it comes with rhythmic accuracy once every eighteen months, for most IT Professionals. It becomes more frequent the longer a person is in the industry or in a specific role with an organization. I look into the eyes of a talented IT Professional and I see that the trusted geek spirit is fading. I get the “just another day” blank stare at the inbox. The innovation flame disappearing. 
This is when the Professional spend more time googling, tweeting and blogging each day, than they spend excitedly formulating solutions, sharing their ideas, and overcoming obstacles. He is no longer excited to come to work. His favorite pastime becomes hanging around the water cooler with other negatively geared elements in the organization. 
Once this “disease” sets into a company or team, it becomes a hard job to turn it around. It is like a snowball down a mountain side - with every turn, it builds momentum. Every person added to the negativity list makes it harder for the rest to remain positive, excited and productive. 
Soon you realize that you have a lot of friends - negative friends. You start to question the value of it all. Maybe you should have listened to your mother and became a doctor or lawyer. Surely, they must be having fun, unlike you today?
In this Blog entry, I will dwell a little on the question: “What happens when you realize that you are in a dead-end job with your current employer?”
Perspectives

The grass may be greener on the other side, or it may not be. 
I can make a case for you to resign immediately, so that we can find you your next exciting opportunity. There certainly are many opportunities out there. 
I am not going to do that, though. Rather, I am hoping to point out some substantial truths to you about your situation. Who knows, you may still decide to resign after that, and we would certainly like to help you along with your next career step. At least then, we know, and you will know, it is for the right reasons, and not because of group negativity.
A wise teacher once said. “Man creates his own reality, which creates its destiny.” 
Every day I am reminded about the truth in this statement. It is only once you realize the causality in your believes that you really know how responsible you are for your circumstances. Every day you determine not only your reality, but also its outcome. Not only do you influence your own, but also that of others around you.
What you see is evidence of what you believe. Believe it and you will see it. If you see the problem, you may miss the opportunity. If you see the obstacle, you may miss the path. If you focus on the hazard, it is the hazard that you will get. 
In Ice Hockey, I have learned that the biggest challenge to scoring a goal is the ability to see and focus on the gap the Goalie leaves. If you see the gap, you have a chance at shooting the puck through the gap and scoring. If you see the Goalie, it is the Goalie getting the puck, and you inevitably missing the gap.
Your career, your job, the outcome of the next five minutes, and today’s feelings are all within your explicit reach and control. See the negativity, and you will get it. Focus on the failures of the company or the project and you will help creating an even bigger failure. See the shortcomings of your colleagues and you will feel lost and out of place. 
Fact is, before long you are suckered into entropy, and your ability to be positive and make a difference, is drained and lost. You are left powerless and negative. And, you are also having this effect on others around you. 
However, if you can see the potential, the possibility, the positive, to gap, then you will find yourself in a different class of professional. There are not many out there that can consciously create a positive reality, and assist others around them to do as well. They are very hard to find and worth gold to an organization.
You may argue that I have gone off my rocker. How possibly can a positive attitude improve a server’s stability, or make your PC run faster? Yes, some circumstances will always be with us. A failing server can be a menace, or it can be an opportunity for a new design. The choice is ultimately yours. 
It is a matter of perspective.
Choices
How on earth can I equate a positive mental attitude with the state and use of your talents in your current job? 
Well, I argue that even here you have choices, and your perspectives will drive the decisions you make. What happens when you realize that you are in a dead-end job with your current employer?
Firstly, know that you don’t have to be. You don’t have to stick around and wait for better days. It is not necessarily only your employer’s fault that you find yourself in challenging circumstances. The market plays a role. Your Manager plays his role. Sometimes you have to have the valleys to appreciate the highs. The dark helps you to distinguish the light. 
Ultimately, it is your role or your part you have to be concerned with. You have the power to change it. You may choose to abandon this particular cause for an opportunity to be energized by another, with a different company or organization.
Most importantly, be sure that you have distinguished fact from fiction. That the choices you are making, you do because it is decisions to create and innovate, and not a decision to avoid a challenge, negativity or a possible opportunity. Choose pro-, and not against.
It is your decision. However, be sure that you are giving it a good go before throwing in the towel. 
This reminds me of the famous words from Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
What happens when you realize your talent is being wasted? Well, considering the above, no one can actually waste your talent, but yourself. It is yours alone to waste.
Also, remember that if it is all getting a bit too much, then consider taking a break. This industry changes very fast. Your company, your job, the market can all look very different two weeks from now. 
A holiday is sometimes as good as a change.
Hendrik van Wyk.

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