‘Why should he be any different,’ recounted my husband as he told me a story from a holiday party we attended. He was indulging himself with some gooey treats at the buffet. Two gentlemen who looked to be in their early 60s stood steps away from the table. One sported a bow tie. They were talking about a young friend who was searching. A person trying to figure out who he was going to be AND make a living at the same time. My husband’s ear engaged as these men agreed and chuckled, ‘that will pass.’
“Has this been behaving this way lately?” asked my husband some time later with a slight tone of disapproval. He held an uncharged iPad..a shared resource in our family. He was really asking if either me or the kids hadn’t recharged it. Interesting technique don’t you think?
Truth be told I’d just attended an evening meeting with our beloved although ailing iPad. A collection of iPads, printed documents and other devices accompanied the roughly 20 attendees at this meeting. I got to thinking how miserably difficult it must be these days for the IT departments at companies with all of these user-provided devices floating around. By the way… I love technology and hold folks from this arena in high regard.
Once upon a time your employer’s IT group would define the device of choice, like laptops, for the organization. They typically bought the machines, loaded them with company-approved software, and distributed them along with usage policies. Do you remember those? Most policies went something like ‘not for personal use.’ Can I tell you how many times our HR department had to help folks remove personal files from machines as they exited the organization….
No one envisioned even five years ago that IT would evolve to support a broad spectrum of user-provided devices (e.g. iPads, tablets, smart phones). And that those devices would house a veritable encyclopedia on non-work related items.
I wonder if there is a metaphor for transition buried in this evolution?
At the start of something do you seek to control it? Is it a surprise that sometimes relinquishing control can lead to unexpected positive outcomes? Been in a meeting lately when in response to a question information is quickly contributed thanks to handy access to a device?
If I’m honest my transition occurred in two stages…a fake transition during which I sought to change something that I could control. And a real transition that followed an exhausting and stressful period for everyone around me.
In 2002 I sold my tech business to Perot Systems, a business that I had founded and led. Within about a year I had my first child. Sixteen month later I had my second child. I was commuting regularly to Dallas, TX. I found out that I could do a one day turnaround to Dallas if I could catch the first flight out at 5:50am and the last flight back at 7:30 pm central time. Long days. Even longer nights.
Somewhere in the haze I realized that this was not sustainable. So I sought a new job. Via networking I found an intellectually challenging role at a locally headquartered company. Sounded wonderful. When could I start?
It wasn’t until 4.5 years later that I realized something was wrong. I wasn’t able to really understand it until I was able to introduce some stillness to life. In that process I found the courage to ask some really tough questions about me and the impact that I sought to have in this world.
Was it the kids? Was it the sale of my dream..my business? Did I mention that I lost my dad within all that too? Did I really think changing what was in my control, my job, would work? By the way I learned an enormous amount from the 4.5 year interlude. I enjoyed it immensely. At the time it was the perfect fix.
I’ve been so touched by the interviews that I’ve completed so far for the Research Jam. Thank you to all who have participated. One woman who characterized her transition as ‘very slow due to many competing priorities’ offered some perspective on the scope of her transition. ‘I’m not really struggling with my job, it’s me.’ She is an incredibly capable Simmons grad who constantly seeks change and challenge in her professional sphere. ‘This part is so hard. I am forcing myself into situations that make me uncomfortable.’ Even though the pace isn’t exactly what this woman would like she is building a tool kit. ‘When (the bigger changes) come I will feel more confident and capable of handling them.’
This time I sought transition. I know I’m not there yet but I have the confidence to ask more of the right questions.
In 2013 I hope that you unplug cynics around you who may sport an ‘it’ll pass’ perspective. Who knows maybe this simple act will unleash the possibilities previously checked by control.
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