Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Emotional Life of a Program Manager

The emotional life of a program manager may be somewhat akin to the emotional life of an iguana.

Day after day you put in steady performance, basking in the sun, which consists primarily of listening to people and laying down an architecture of expectations that helps guide their amazing experience, gifts and knowledge along the paths of the project you are working on together. You provide the architecture.  They provide the expertise. Followed  by a big push up milestone which in the  iguana's case could be the season of mating with its push-ups of attention attraction and which for the program manager could be a formal presentation to an august audience to signify the beginning of something new.

Milestones such as these are a particularly joyous event.  First because you make them...culminating months of effort.  Second because they are over...sadly often in a matter of a few brief intense hours.  Unfortunately, they bring with them a sort of post-milestone funk that lingers for a restless weekend...only to be replaced later next week or even earlier by the imperative for the next milestone.

While sometimes put aside for the purpose of accomplishing a milestone, the firm presence of family,  friends or outside interests and hobbies helps speed recovery and rebalancing.

Occasionally you find yourself spit out the back side of a milestone in an eddy totally unprepared for the inability to disengage with that stuff and re-engage with the rest of your life.  The transition can then be a bit of a white water rafting experience while you look around you and wonder what else there is to do besides work.

All in all, not getting swept up in the biological imperative, the swift current or the unyielding pace of the project is healthiest for balance.

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