Friday, August 24, 2012

So you have achieved success, what is next?

After a long time, the BI project that you were leading is finally in production; to everybody’s surprise (including yours) things are working perfectly and customers are actually using the system. All the hard work seems to have paid off after all, with your boss congratulating you on how the project was deployed and the fact there were no priority one issues during the roll-out. In short, you have achieved success, you are no longer afraid of being part of the failed BI project statistics. After a week or so of babysitting the new system you start to wonder what is next? You start to realize that you have been so single mindedly driven to deliver the program that you have given little thought to what you will do after delivering. Many options start popping on your mind: should you take vacation, should you ask for afternoons off to play more golf, should you go to your boss and ask for a new project when you know that nothing in the pipeline is as good or as interesting as the project you were just on. Maybe you should leave the organization and find a company that has an even more challenging project where you can contribute immediately? With so many options, what is the right thing to do? What option will provide you the most happiness, what option will help you the most in your professional career?

If the situation above is familiar to you, you are not alone. According to industry statistics, most of the IT turnover happens immediately after the successful delivery of large programs. It seems that many successful Information Management professionals crave the excitement that comes with an impossible deadline: they need to feel that they are absolutely needed and nothing could be done well or on time without their expertise. In my opinion, this is part of the human nature, as individuals we tend to measure our worthiness by our contributions to society at work, at church, or even at home. It is almost impossible not to increase your ego when you are getting constant and immediate feedback on the effort you are providing and you are seeing the direct impact it has on achieving the goal. However as “human” as this reaction can be, it is one of the most fragile situations an individual can face.  During this quiet “period”, defined as the absence of constant feedback, the IT professional needs to be extremely careful of not to make any rash decisions just to get “back in the game”. It is almost funny to be in this paradox, many people spend their entire professional careers trying to achieve success, but as beauty, the definition of success is in the eye of the beholder and can change quickly depending on the perspective from which is being looked at. As many successful people have found out, it takes a significant amount of effort to achieve success, but it takes an even higher degree of discipline to maintain success.

So, as the title of this blog asks, what is next? In my experience what follows is a battle of the self, where a new equilibrium of the inner ego and outside person needs to be achieved before one can embark on the next big “adventure”. This battle of the self cannot be won using technology; it needs to be fought from within through self-discovery. The biggest break through will come the time that we realize that our worth is not defined by how many emails we get a day, or how many reports/dashboards we can deliver but on our capacity to learn and adapt to new environments, after all it is also part of the human nature the capacity to survive in the most inhospitable climates. More importantly you worth is not defined by what you have done, neither from what you will do but from the self. You are, you exist and you have the capacity to be happy regardless of what life alternative you decide to choose. After all, the world is vast and the possibilities are only limited by our imagination.