The business world is unpredictable. I have learned over many iterations and through the depths of devastation NOT to cement my hopes to promises of management and plan my future according to their word. When I do, I will almost invariably find myself awash in the emotional muck of betrayal, futility and just fatigue.
The problem is that I want to be passionate about my work. It has to matter to me to do it right, with excellence and diligence. I want to finish the job. And I’m good at what I do. That’s not a boast; it’s the testimony of those who regularly review and evaluate my “performance”.
So it happened again.
The cycle goes like this:
- A project starts up, designs happen, maybe a prototype.
- Preliminary results roll in and they are somewhere between auspicious and stellar.
- The meat of the project gets underway. People work hard, together and intermediate results are produced.
- Management reviews the project or there is a business event or shift.
- The project is cancelled.
Now, I’ve been on projects that are canceled earlier than point e). And this most recent cancellation was after point b).
And most painful were those project canceled who had lasted 2-5 years before point d).
I had someone once tell me to “just get over it” and that stung almost as much as the cancellation. You don’t just turn your passion off like a switch.
They say it’s not failure; that 70% of all projects never finish. You can imagine how much that helps.
Now it is a business fact that management loses confidence if a deliverable is not produced in months and not years. They are not paid to be patient or risk-tolerant.
In engineering it’s supposed to be adult and well-adjusted to just produce. Anything. For any amount of time. Dispassionately. Without attachments or emotions.
I can’t do that. Or I won’t. And I don’t really care which it is. It’s not me.
So where do I go when this happens? I go to loving people; it’s all that keeps going.
- There will be a new team with people I can love, encourage and do stuff with. I don’t know how long it will last but the people are what matter, not the work. No matter what management says.
- I will love management. Those people live in fear and under constant criticism. They don’t need more from me. It’s not that I won’t speak my mind – they also need to know they don’t manage robots.
- I will love my wife, my family, my friends and my church. They are always there for me and .. they are a big reason I go to work in the first place.
- I will love my work. Picking up the pieces, assessing what I’ve learned, I will dare to try again. In smaller places. Even unapproved ones. Because that’s where I’m a genius.
Canceled. It’s not the end of the world. Just another disappointment.