In many ways, time seems to fly by…it seems like just yesterday that I moved to California to start a new life of working at FP International and attending UC Berkeley for my MBA. I certainly don’t feel much different from this time — filled with wonder at this new life and all of its amazing blessings. My life now looks completely different from that spring day in 2003 — but I feel the same on the inside, even if I have more wrinkles and grey hair and battle scars.
And yet, minutes are precious. I have this little competition with myself every morning, where I try to compress my morning routine just a little bit more. Can I get dressed, feed the cat, brew the coffee, scoop litter, eat breakfast, and put on jewelery and makeup in 15 minutes? How about 14?
If I have 5 minutes between meetings – due to a miraculous early ending of a prior meeting – what can I do with this time? Can I answer 3 emails and also make a bio break? Do I have time to call and refill that prescription too?
My daily thought is that minutes are precious and I can often be miraculously efficient…and yet, looking in the distance time contracts and eleven years feels like a brief moment ago. How amazingly complex.
It’s five in the afternoon and I just signed off of work email – I started my day with a 6 am call. Most days go this way, and it’s mostly OK that every day is a scramble with very little defined beginning and ending. I’ll certainly sign on again later tonight – after Pilates, and cooking dinner, and perhaps after the coveted evening walk. However, one constant question haunts my contemplative moments, in various forms…
Am I good enough? Would someone else work more efficiently? Could others complete these tasks faster or more completely? Do I have talent? What am I missing?
Self doubt is perhaps a very usual emotion for everyone. although psychologists say women have it more than men. I know it certainly drives me to work harder, think faster, and compete against my own personal standards for how both work and play should be accomplished.
Maybe it’s a reflection of my ENTJ egoism, but I don’t worry about being too ugly or fat, too outspoken, or too kind. I worry about not being enough – not working hard enough, not being fast enough, and not being smart enough. I worry about it on the bike, at work, and at home.
I try to believe that this doubt makes me better, and also makes me more human…but then I doubt again.
It’s better on the bike — I don’t have time to fret as much. It’s time to get back on the bike.
I’ve been finding a certain joy in simplicity recently. A good night of sleep. Walking along the beach. Evenings that aren’t too over-scheduled. Time to cuddle with Mr. Handsome, who is nursing a sore leg and a needy disposition. I cook dinner, maybe open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the view while working.
My working days are a pell-mell sprint to the evening, filled with meetings and intervention and often frustration. My evenings, by comparison, are one long, slow, languorous stretch until bedtime. I often reflect that if I had kids, my evenings would be like my days…I have no idea how people find the energy.
The newest addition to my routine is Pilates. I’ve learned that I often forget to breathe during the day — my working breaths are a niggardly concession to my dependence on oxygen. My evening breaths, after Pilates, are a celebration of the lungs and belly, cleansing and rejuvenating. I stand taller, feel stronger, and hardly notice that my rotator cuff is inflamed from all that damn Pilates. Some things haven’t changed – I still lack balance and jump into activities with too much passion.
Simplicity has been terrific. Kitty snuggles, Pilates breathing, home-cooked meals, and long walks. Right now, that’s what life is about.
I’m not sure if this analogy really works, or if it works only in my head. Recently, I took a trip on the London Eye with a co-worker, while we were killing time before a customer meeting. It was fun and scenic, as you can see from the photo.
I’ve been thinking that life – especially my work life – really mirrors the Eye. The cost of entry is expensive. The big picture view you paid for is often obstructed by other people. It’s hard to take in all the information in front of you and ingest it into a coherent whole. And sometimes we spend a really long time circling around and around the same damn stuff without making any progress.
But there’s potential too. We have the ability to see so much more than what we can see from the ground. Sometimes the circling lets us get it right, even if we messed it up the first time. Occasionally we even make new friends along the way. And it’s the only ride in town, so we should probably quit complaining about it.
So that’s it in terms of amusement park wisdom from me today.
Be careful what you ask for…that should be my new mantra.
One of the reasons I left MSFT was that I felt like I was lagging vs. my peers when it came to promotions, plum assignments, and executive exposure — despite the fact that I was doing very well in the company’s somewhat notorious ranking system. My hypothesis was that I’d more opportunities in a mid-market company (20 K employees and $4.5 M revenue).
It seems I was more right than I would possibly guess.
I don’t have a week when I’m not meeting with at least a VP level contact, and I get CEO exposure. I’m constantly prepping for yet another executive meeting, either in my own company or within my customer’s organization. I’m leading a team of talented people, and we’re doing really cool new stuff. Avaya is even changing its product development timelines and (occasionally) features based on my input and my customer’s needs.
And now I’m interviewing for a newer, even bigger role…after only five months with the company. It’s exciting and humbling and my life is moving really, really fast. Sure, there are warts and issues and no job is perfect. There are things I miss about MSFT. But I love how bright my future looks right now.
Fire hose, meet Wendy. The next few months should be interesting.