Sunday, March 8, 2009

Belief, part 2. Belief about myself

I was reading through some blogs recently, and on one particular one I was struck by someone who talked all about the risk he and his wife went through to start their own business, and how difficult it was for him, for prior to that he was very resistant to making waves to take risks.

So while I was reading through this, I came to some understanding about myself. To succeed, one needs to step outside one's comfort zone, because if one didn't take any risk, one would have the same result as yesterday's effort, which was not much.

So why was I not moving forward? Why was I resistant to change?

In recent years, I had come to a place where I was comfortable, and my main hope was that things remained stable. I had not done poorly, and I had thought that if things maintained their status quo, I would be ok. I didn't need a breakout on the upside if the slow trajectory of current improvement continued.

Responsibility for maintaining complex code that depends on a changing environment placed me in a position to always play 'catch-up', and hoping for more stability.

And I had put a lot of energy and effort in seeing the world that way. It wasn't always that way; when I was younger I was a willing risk-taker, but as I got older, things started to slow down. Was it because I had a few things, and thus in a meager attempt to keep them I would hope things wouldn't be at risk? Probably.

So I behaved in my work world as well. For example, in my role I had occasion to collect many items no longer usable to others, and often when someone was looking for an older piece of hardware, they would come to ask me. When I found that I had what they were looking for, I would say with glee, "Never throw anything out."

I could easily justify my attitude. Major sweeping changes usually overlooked some important aspect of what got done, and I would often be the lucky recipient of needing to adjust many things when that happened. I had my hands in much code that would need to be revamped, procedures that needed to be revised, methodology that would need to be replaced. Such major changes were to be avoided if possible, as I tried to hold back the tide.

I became a repository of the past. Including of how things got done. In my job evaluation, my manager included that I was 'cautious about change.' I certainly was, and was initially pleased with that description, but later came to be uncomfortable as I realized it was code words for 'resistant to change.'

My attitude revealed itself in may ways: keeping old hardware, trying to keep too much change from swamping my group's operations, not keeping up with some of the more recent technologies. Maybe not so critical individually if I contributed in other major areas. But I can see how I resisted so much.

In my position, I am paid to look for problems and report them. So it is natural to find problems, it was what was expected of me. Yet, without hesitation, I could find them in almost any and all situations. Not always a smart career move.

But it is not with the job only that I see conflict now, it is in the wider world as well. Moving slower in a faster world, expecting less change in a world of increasing complexity, holding on to the present with little vision of change for the future... all are a limiting perspective.