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.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting Your Groove Back

You wake up one day and feel better and by virtue of feeling better realize that for quite some time you've been feeling worse.  You realize you lost your mojo only because you found it again. It could be due to family fights, work is not going so well, a health scare, poor self care, a breakup or whatever. But you're not your usual feisty self.  Sometimes it's hard to tell where the problem starts and therefore where to focus on solutions. It could be:

  • Physical - some ideas include eat, feed yourself! get rest, take naps, sleep, exercise - get the blood running through those veins and generate some endorphins
  • Relational - you've gotten isolated somehow.  Pick up the phone, IM or e-mail and make arrangements to spend time with friends, family, shiny people at work, anyone who raises your spirits
  • Spiritual - touch base and reaffirm what you know to be true.
  • Developmental - it may be time to change.  It could be your job, your home, your decor, where you derive self worth from.  That takes energy.
  • Or all of the above plus more.  

Some ideas on how to triangulate:

  • Get away - it could be a long drive, a picnic or a weekend away.  Just dump it all and get away.  See if you get new perspective just from the change in scenery and turning your back on the things that drive you crazy.
  • Wait - sometimes these things just take time and you need to wait while looking for answers, aka active waiting
  • Read - see if you recognize yourself in someone else's writing.  Perhaps they can describe perfectly what you're going through and help you identify the problem
  • Talk - grab a friend and talk it out.  Listen to your friend's counsel.
Whatever it is, God's mercies are new every morning.  Every day is a new day and a chance to dance again.  Take advantage of it!