Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ego eimi

by John D Ramsey

I do not write much about work. I try to keep a separation between real life and what I do for a living. Nevertheless, today was interesting. Lisa and the girls drove me to work because we only need one car. When Lisa and the girls have an event planned, they ride with me to work and take the car. I have no need of a car during the day. Lisa packs my lunch every day, and I take a ten-minute break to eat.

I enjoy the family carpool when it happens. We laugh a lot when we are together. Today the punch line was about an imaginary business named, “Massage Zombie.” The motto, of course: “We make you feel undead.” Lisa will write soon about a mommy-blogger promotion in which she participated. Maybe then you’ll understand, then again, maybe you won’t.

On arrival at work, the girls helped me carry Lisa’s fresh-baked cinnamon rolls into the office. They disappeared almost as suddenly as the girls did on their way to a morning of garage sales.

Later today, in the middle of a crisis, someone told me bluntly that my background and knowledge was a detriment to my success. This was an enlightening perspective because previously, I felt most uncomfortable managing the systems and processes that I do not understand well. In fact, I spend much of my time drilling down to the truth. What happened? What should have happened? Why did went wrong? How can it be fixed? Who can fix it? How can we insure that it does not happen again? Who understands it? Who else needs to understand it? My work is fast-paced, but often I spend more time battling the blazes than working strategically. I would rather work strategically, but maybe my personality is better suited for battle.

I currently manage more systems than I can fully understand, especially considering the few weeks I have been in this position. Nevertheless, there is an unspoken expectation that because I’m a geek, I should be personally capable of running all systems – alone. My co-worker sees that others abuse my skill set to deflect responsibility. They would not dare tell a non-geek manager to fix a system that they broke. Rather, they would fix the system.

I wonder how long senior management will be patient with a geek who cannot fix everything. I wonder whether senior management is satisfied with the incremental gains in productivity that my team has made. I really wonder whether I am a best-value employee because I am a geek and a manager, or whether I am an under-producing geek and an under-performing manager.

Today, my eleven-year-old, Claire, told me that friends of ours were living in an RV while their house is on the market because a voluntary but necessary career move took them a thousand miles away. I told Claire and Gabby to be thankful for what they have, but not to take it for granted. Circumstances change.

On the way home from work, Lisa told me that she posted a link to one of her most important older posts on another blogger’s site. She said the title of the post, “When Sea Billows Roll.”

A tear came to my eye, and I muttered, “Ego eimi.”

Lisa questioned me, and I repeated myself stumbling a bit over the pronunciation, “Ego eimi, ego eimi.” That is what Jesus spoke to his disciples as he came walking to them on Galilee through the storm.

He said, “Ego eimi – I am, do not fear.”

Tonight, the BlackBerry has been quiet. Tomorrow the company celebrates a milestone of success. Regardless of the excitement or turmoil the days ahead may bring, tonight I am contemplating,

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

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