Little by little...

Little by little...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Grieving the End of This Chapter

Have you ever experienced the sadness of finishing a good book?

It’s usually a book that took me through ups and downs – one that could make me cry and laugh out loud in the same chapter. I get attached to books with gritty characters, imperfect yet likeable. And when I finish one of these books, I feel grief, I guess, because I don’t want to say goodbye.

This is another example of life imitating art.

I just finished a chapter of my life. And I’m sad because I had to say goodbye to a group of guys that I’ve worked with for over two years. They do some development work offsite for the company where I work. It’s a motley crew of developers with varied backgrounds and talents. I only “officially” worked with a few of the guys, but they all endeared themselves to me in one way or another.

Like that good book, our story line had some drama. I finally found a group of people who did not back down when I challenged an idea. Our disagreements and debates sharpened my thinking and broadened my perspective. They taught me so much! And they only made me cry a few times. J

We shared a lot of laughs too. Some of the funniest people I know are also the smartest. And these guys are some of the smartest. We discovered our comic commonalities early on, combining sarcasm, cynicism and snarkiness. When I’m around them, I laugh almost as much as I roll my eyes. They are the reason that I always wanted a brother.

Unlike finishing a book, this goodbye was not my choice. I am getting moved to a different team so my visits must come to an end. This imperfect yet highly likeable group of guys drew me into their lives and treated me like a sister. Which is why my long drive home today started with tears. I was feeling grief because this chapter of my life is closing.

But then I spent the rest of the ride home thinking about how lucky I am. I have met some of the sweetest, quirkiest, craziest people and I am a better person because of each one. And unlike a book, I won’t forget about these characters. Because thankfully, I don’t have to wait for a sequel to see them again.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Listen to What You Are Saying

How do you answer when people ask, “What do you do?” I have been explaining “agile” to people outside of IT more than normal recently. I give them a 2-minute spiel about the value of collaboration and fast feedback and et cetera, et cetera. They usually nod politely and change the subject.

The most recent conversation was last week. I was in Vegas for the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West. I was out with some friends and one member of the group did not know what agile was. So I gave him my spiel and answered a few questions.

He then commented on my passion for what I do. He wished more people had my kind of enthusiasm for their work. I found this amusing, as I hadn’t tried to sound passionate.

As I considered it further, I thought about various friends and how they sound describing their jobs. One friend in particular came to mind. She got her dream job several months ago and can barely contain herself when you ask how it’s going. She oozes joy and satisfaction.

Contrast that with others who sound frustrated, tired, bored or all of the above. I am not talking about dealing with challenging moments in their careers. These are the people who wonder how they “ended up” in their jobs. Or they stopped learning new things because they are “experts” in their field - their boredom is apparent.

Whether you intend it or not, your attitude permeates your words. I have dealt with a lot of frustration and roadblocks, as we all have. And I am guilty of being cynical and sarcastic at times, just like some of you. But through it all, I have maintained a passion for making things great, and it came through without me needing to say it. 

Have you ever listened to what you are saying? When you give people your 2-minute spiel, what do they hear? Passion? Anger? Disappointment? If you don't like your answer, what are you going to do about it?