I was watching Ken Robinson on Passion. He made the claim that too many people live lives that are not fulfilling. Your work drains you.
Instead, what energizes you?
I reflected on my life. I am lucky. I found many parts of my professional life that energize me:
- Anything about product development energizes me: programming, testing, project management, program management, product ownership energizes me.
- Management energizes me.
- Speaking and writing energizes me.
- Change often, and not always, energizes me.
It sounds linear when I write it down. But, my career has not been linear in any way.
I have been fortunate that my career has revolved around software technology. However, when I was a new software engineer, I never imagined I would write articles, blogs, or books. Yes, people used to ask me to explain my memos because I wrote run-on sentences.
I didn’t intend to become a tester. I wanted to work at a particular company in the Boston area and they said I was “too stupid” to be a developer because I didn’t know the language, Lisp. I learned Lisp by writing automated tests. As I wrote tests and learned the Lisp machine, I realized that testing exposed defects that developers had created. I learned ways to recognize the circumstances under which developers could only create problems. I started to learn about project management, program management, and people management.
I saw my first professional speaker in 1991. She was brought into our company by the management to discuss how to organize our days. I then saw David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, and realized I wanted to speak as they did.
It wasn’t until I became a consultant in 1994 that I learned to speak and then to write and then to start integrating what I had learned as an employee in my new professional venture.
As in Robinson’s talk, I have seen too many people dread going to work. Sometimes, they dread going to work because of the culture and environment. Too often, they dread going to work because of the work.
In my travels, people sometimes ask me, “How do you have it all?” Well, I don’t have it all. I make choices, just as you do. However, I am open to new possibilities that energize me. Sometimes, the new possibilities are about what I will learn. Sometimes, they are about what I can do to help a client. Sometimes, it’s about my coaching or exploration.
As Carl Jung said,
I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
I have chosen to become what energizes me. Maybe as you give thanks this week of Thanksgiving, it’s time to ask what you can become.
That is the question this week: What energizes you?
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