I suppose it’s time I admitted it. After years of striving, now in both name and responsibility, I’m a Program Manager. And, when it rains, it pours; my current posting is even more PM-ish than my last one. By that I mean there’s more influence, less authority.
It is not by the threat of re-organizing or de-funding that I make my policies and processes real. Instead, my programs – and career – live and die by the strength of the narrative that I put together.
It’s not surprising that I’ve been thinking about a personal mytharc that extends to the larger scope of my work. Does it have a unifying thread? A purpose? Are there actual rules I live by? I sat down with a mentor of mine and he watched me contort for nigh on an hour as I tried to hash out just three – seriously, three – rules I would consider critical to my life – and a fourth that answered the question: what am I?
This is what I came up with, and I thought they might be interesting to share in a series of posts.
- Fail Fast.
- Listen Hard.
- Abandon Fearlessly.
- I Am What I Create.
Let’s start from the bottom today, and if there’s more to say, we can talk about it in other posts.
I Am What I Create
As one of Generation ?’s corporate-jumper hybrids (My count is four companies in ten years, just a little bit shy of the projection), I know that my success and reputation aren’t wholly dominoed against my employer, encompassing though they may be.
I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about a personal thread and brand, and when I say that, I don’t mean just the logo, the tagline, the list of skills and services that splash out like acronym soup on the resume. I mean the philosophies that guide the narratives I not only strive to create in my work, but those that I choose to tell in meetings, presentations, and interviews.
I tried to pull those up with my mentor when he asked me for rules. Other questions he asked, in hopes of getting me to think of my rules:
- What do you want your epitaph to read?
- Rank the most important things to you in your career. Money can be one of them.
- What’s on your “About Me” page on your blog?
Okay – I admit, I came up with that last one – but that was the icebreaker. For years, I had a ring I wore that simply had the word “CREATE” inscribed in it. Back then, I cared about making things that I could point to – done or not – and say “I did that.” I realized that all along, I’d been wanting to keep those items in a list – and The Omnibus was that list. I built in early on in my blog career and have kept it constantly up to date.
My list of creations is the most important contributor to my sense of self.
Unlike salary, title, or headcount, I look at my list of creations as unique; a thing I tracked and curated with care, without ever being asked to do so. When the time came to put a wrap on my last six months of work in the “Create Games for Windows Phone 7” educational series, that went in the Omnibus as an identifiable thing – separate from my work on Industry or Text4Dead, but no less tangible.
Perhaps the whole of the investigation into my rules and reasons can be tracked this way – it’s about what you do instinctively, without being told. The pieces of yourself that inform your actions reflexively, and those that, outside of the immediate influence of authority of responsibility, you find yourself leaning on.
To me, this revelation is enlightening, valuable, and liberating.
And that’s why, in my next post, I’ll explain – in what may be seen by some as a decidedly career-limiting move – why I’m not always a good finisher of projects, and how that may be the best thing I could ever bring to the table as a PM.