On reinventing yourself

I've always fought against memories of the past. In doing so I've deprived myself of the chance to actually enjoy what they mean.

What's the first thing you remember when listening to Guns 'N' Roses' Sweet Child of Mine? To me it's Slash and his guitar at the beginning of the song.

I don't know about you but but music, Naginata and sometimes being a mean and nasty son of a bitch is so liberating.  Fuck the consequences and just go with it

I've decided that this is the last time I talk to the person I've been having problems with and then let the chips fall as they may.

Part of reinventing yourself is to keep yourself flexible and nimble. I heard news @work that put the June conference into perspective. Now it makes sense why I have to take vacation time to go and it defused that piece to the point where it's a non-issue. What brought my anger level up 'though is the fact that where I want to go professionally does not match where upper management wants me to go and no one has seen fit to tell me so.  I had to pry it out of my supervisor today and I know that he's as uncomfortable with this whole situation as I am but he really can't do much about it either. SO I have to decide if my peace of mind is worth calling attention to myself and the possible consequences of that action.

I can't get this song from my head and haven't been able to for a while. The emphasis to me is in the chorus:

We're fighting for the gods of war
But what the hell we're fighting for
We're fighting with the gods of war
But I ain't gonna fight no more

The first step is to take inventory of yourself, your priorities and your goals (both short and long term).

The last few posts have talked a lot about priorities, goals and commitments. For more details see Sometimes I just wishPriorities, realizations and commitments, and Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish so now I think  it's time to do an inventory of who I really am and take another, more serious, look at where I want to be or perhaps who I don't want to be.

I want to be someone whom people can trust, and not be afraid to approach; I want those around me to know that, if I see a reciprocal effort, I'll put 110% effort into our friendship. People who try to, in their words, "be nice" have a problem that I don't want to be a part of: in being  nice they deprive their friends of the opportunities to change and grow. I tend to be opinionated, sometimes too opinionated for my own good, but I'll always do my best to be open and honest with my friends.

I think that we all want to work on something we enjoy and can grow to love. The disagreements are more in the shape and nature of what that job is and the areas of responsibilities that it's associated with "the dream job". Some things are about the job itself and others  are more about what I want and the challenges I want to stretch me professionally.

  • I want flexibility;
  • I want room for growth: not be pigeonholed into one specific area but to be allowed to branch out as needed to get stuff done and not get bored to tears;

Perhaps that's the key to reinventing yourself.... To keep enough versions of you around that each one of them can take whatever is coming your way.

Am I really ready to do that? Am I willing to embrace the flexibility I need not to be afraid of whatever is coming?

One of the things that I've never learned all the way through is that there is no gain without pain.... intellectually I can understand it but I don't think I've ever internalized it and the fear still stops me when it's time to move on. I've said it before that I couldn't understand why was it that I didn't trust my instincts when they told me it was time to move on. Being totally blunt

I was watching, again, the series final for JAG: Fair Winds and Following Seas. The last scene when Bud flips the coin and everyone  keeps staring to see who is going to have to give up their life dreams to achieve happiness.

As I've said before what do you have to give up in order to get what you really want.

Being totally honest, I don't know if I could give up my job and be totally happy. I know I don't want crap like what happened today to repeat itself but I also know that  I'm not ever going to be happy without being able to exercise the atrophied skill sets.

I've hardly done any training or presentations since I moved to Chico. 10 hours or so in 3 years hardly qualifies as keeping your skills sharp.  I'm afraid that my instructional design and development skills are going the same way.  If you don't use them or at least keep current with the literature I'll loose what little of those skills you have left.

Back to what I want and don't want. So far these are the elements of what I'd want in an "ideal job." I realize that some of these things are not realistic and/or even possible but, hell, we're talking about an ideal so why not? 🙂

  • I want a place where I can actually practice training and instructional design even if it's as a secondary area of responsibility
  • I want a team, not a place where people feel empowered to dictate to other teammates. I've been as guilty about this as anyone and that's what I hate the most about the situation
  • I want a job where the rules are clear from day 1 with room for change, evolution and improvement where it's appropriate. It's not that I'm averse to change, it's just that I want to know when it's coming.
  • Related to the one above is wanting to at least get a voice on what direction my job is going. I know this is totally unrealistic, but it's one worth writing down even if it means that I'm never going to get a job that's 100% satisfactory
  • Communication, communication, communication. Things haven't been put on context and it shouldn't have to be my job to figure out what it is that I'm supposed to be doing.


  • Skid Row (Youth gone wild, 18 and life)
  • Linkin Park - iTunes selection
  • Rush - Roll the bones


  • Agile web development with Rails
  • Foundation's Edge


  • Learning to Program Rails
  • Trying to complete my final paper
  • Outlining my 2 summer writing projects


  • Reruns of JAG
  • NCIS
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Pursuing the Perfect Project Manager

Posted on April 19, 1991 

One theme has poked its head through the lines of these columns time and again -- tomorrow's corporation as a "collection of projects." I've also discussed "networking" beyond the firm's borders: Companies will work as equals, on new products, delivery systems and the like, with a shifting cast of vendors, middlemen and customers.

But as "project" and "network" become the norm, "who's in charge?" becomes problematic. Everyone needs to learn to work in teams, "with" multiple, independent experts, often from multiple, independent companies; each will be dependent upon all the others voluntarily giving their best. The new lead actor/"boss" -- the project manager -- must learn to command and coach; that is, to deal with paradox. Here are eight dilemmas she or he must master:

  1. Total ego/no ego. To succeed, project managers must be consumed by the project; the best invest their egos in the job and "become" their projects, sometimes for years. Yet project managers must also have no ego at all. They deal with numerous, diverse outsiders and insiders, whom they can hardly "command." (They neither have formal authority, nor even a clear understanding of what many of the others are up to.) Contributors must have their own high ego involvement -- which means the project manager must be expert at letting others take full credit for what they've done and a disproportionate share of the kudos for overall success.
  2. Autocrat/delegator. When the chips are down, the project manager has got to issue the orders, fast -- e.g., when the lights go out in the conference center, with 5,000 people streaming in. On the other hand, she or he needs to be a masterful delegator: In that crisis when the lights go out, lighting experts should "own the problem" and have taken the initiative to deal with the situation before the chief ever became aware of it.
  3. Leader/manager. Today's project managers, more so than in traditional settings, are only as good as their teammates' commitment, energy and diverse skills. So project managers must be leaders -- visionaries and invigorators. On the other hand, "management" means being expert at the mechanics. Stellar project bosses match a passion for inspiring others with a love for the nuts and bolts of the job.
  4. Tolerate ambiguity/pursue perfection. The essence of complex project is ambiguity. The only "for sure" is the unexpected. Effective project managers handle equivocality with elan and a sense of humor. But they must have equal zeal for the tidy. The downfall of botched projects is most often a trifle -- e.g., overlooking bus transportation to a special event for 500 convention attendees.
  5. Oral/written. Most people have either an oral or a "put it in writing" bias. Top project managers must have both. They are wrong to insist upon an "audit trail" of memos to document every this or that; dealing orally, on the fly, must come easily. However, project managers must also be compulsive about the written master plan and the daily "to-do list."
  6. Acknowledge complexity/champion simplicity. Nothing is more complex than a sophisticated, multiorganization project. Effective project managers must juggle a thousand balls -- of differing (and ever changing!) shapes and sizes. On the other hand, they must be "Keep It Simple, Stupid" fanatics -- making sure that a few, essential values dominate the organization (e.g., nobody misses the 7 a.m. Monday meeting).
  7. Think big/think small. Project managers must appreciate forests and trees. Those fixated with the "big picture" will come a cropper over details. Yet "god-is-in-the-details" project managers may miss the main point. Success means seeing the relationship of the tiny to the large, the large to the tiny -- at every moment.
  8. Impatient/patient. Project managers must be "action fanatics": Get on with it; don't dwell on yesterday's bobbles. At the same time, they run a network with fragile egos, multiple cultures and complex relationships. Of course, project managers don't "run" networks at all -- they are, at most, first among equals. Forget the word "sub contractor" -- substitute "co-contractor." Think the same way about each member of a project team. When one deals with co-equals, devoting lots of time to "relationship building" becomes as important as impatiently pushing for action.

It's not clear that Mother Theresa could pass all eight tests. Yet I contend that these paradoxes lie near the heart of project-management effectiveness. Elements of the answer for the corporation are (1) acknowledging that project management is becoming all-important; (2) emphasizing project-management skills in performance evaluations from the outset of a career; (3) routinely assigning junior people to project teams (in task-leader positions as soon as possible); and (4) addressing the paradoxes in training programs (project-management skills are often "taken for granted," not even the subject of special training).

The issue won't go away. Confront it now and begin to purposefully build a skilled cadre of project managers. It may turn out to be a matchless basis for competitive advantage.

(C) 1991 TPG Communications.

All rights reserved.