Tuesday, May 1, 2012

signs of life

Another aikido class! I did the basics class tonight and didn't feel like a zombie afterward. As with the weapons class on Sunday, I can feel that I shouldn't push myself much past what I'm doing, but wow, what a difference. Tonight I had enough energy left over to make some chicken curry for the week. From scratch. Chicken curry is really heavy and bad for us, but the point is really that I had a work day and an aikido class and still managed to cook something which I'm not exactly happy with, but it tastes fine, and it's sort of a pain to make.

I had a better day at work, too, with various puttering and accomplishing of things. My friend Matt works with me now, and he said about our boss, "I love talking to him. It always changes my week." I told the boss that when I go to lots of meetings, I hate my job.
"So don't go."
"But some of those meetings are my job."
"What do you think your job is?"
"To help my teams work efficiently and happily, and to represent them to the rest of the company."
"You can stop at the first one. Helping your teams do work is your only job. You can scrap anything that doesn't directly contribute to that. All meetings are optional, except interviews."
He and I have had this conversation before, in various forms. It's hard when people are saying they really need you there to participate or offer information. That happened with two meetings on Monday that it turned out I could have skipped. I think what happens is that other people, Product Managers in this case, get OMG REALLY EXCITED about the giant new project that's happening. Of course they're excited. They're Product Managers, and signing a huge customer means they have opportunities to Manage Products. In their excitement, they lose what was already a minimal sense of perspective on whether engineers are or should be anywhere near as excited as they are about the product development coming down the pike. The answers, generally, are:
  1. No, we're not.
  2. No, we shouldn't be. (We can be, if we want to.)
  3. Why are you still here? Get out of my office and leave me alone.
Everybody has lots of reasons to talk to us, and for non-engineers, it's natural to do this sort of thing in meetings. Engineers are really left out in the cold as the only people who don't want to have a meeting. It feels sort of churlish to not accomodate people at least a little bit. But it's the right thing to do.

We humans are funny this way: we always need to be reminded of how much decision-making power we really have. At work, as a team lead, I have vast, nearly unlimited discretion, so long as my decisions get my teams pushing the company in the right direction. How I go about that, what tools we use, what projects we take on, are largely up to me. I often forget exactly how far that goes, and some of my fellow team leads have never yet flexed those muscles.

We do this with our selves, too. We don't realize how many choices we make every day, or how those choices and responses and reactions shape us in turn.
Irrigators guide the water.
Fletchers shape the arrow shaft.
Carpenters shape the wood.
Those of good practices control themselves. [link]
The choices we make are like a carpenter working a piece of wood. We create ourselves, and through that, the quality of our experience. We have all that power. In the hustle and noise of everyday life, we just forget.

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