I am in existential crisis today. In truth, I am in existential crisis almost every day, sometimes several times in the course of the day.
I can’t help but share this with you. If you are not interested, I understand. It’s worth offering you an exit strategy. This would be that opportunistic time then to cut your losses and seek refuge elsewhere.
Existential Crisis #1
But now that you’ve come this far, I should explain myself. You know me, or at least those of you who do know me know that in my position I look in many directions for opportunity and challenge. In the early days of the Co-Creation Lab, I was the one. Not so much like Neo — more like just the only one, so it was me against the world, or rather, me in the world. Man eats world. World eats man. That sort of thing.
But evolution is an objective fact amongst living things, and I am objectively alive. I can attest, as will others, that I am no bot. And evolution has been foisted upon me not by accident but by design and desire. My lab has grown. Its staff and its scope and all at once it is no longer me, and I am not the lab. Here then is existential crisis #1: I am not the Lab. Who am I now?
My title is Director, and I think of that like more the director of a full-length motion picture and not so much like the director of a governmental agency or bureau. With staff comes the requirement to “manage” resources, and by that I mean other human beings.
Through both good fortune and tenacious determination, I now have staff and they are simply exquisite, preternaturally talented and self-motivated individuals. I would be less than credible if I did not admit longing for people more skilled than myself. After I all, how could I take my lab creations from the petri dish onto the messy and complicated tables of the world without expanding our palette of proficiencies?
Existential Crisis #2
And so, we have. Now they are making their own marks in the lab, in the company, in the enterprise, and I am proud. I did not mold them; they came to me as fully formed experienced and ambitious individuals. I recognized their talents and brought them into their new roles and hopefully to inspire or make possible an evolution of their own.
Existential crisis #2. I spend each day trying to gauge if, and ensure that they remain intrigued, interested, challenged. No longer just who am I, but of what use am I?
I will be the first to decry to hyper-supervision of the modern corporate enterprise. Before I came to Lyniate, I was on a project where my firm was third on the contract depth chart. And the project was by that time into a more operational stage. I had seven people looking over me. We had seven managers for every one technician. That’s too many by any perspective and upside down by most accounts — but not so uncommon as you might think.
Look around, or rather look above. I am happy to report that such a thing is not present in my current role, but I have to ask myself if my layer is the essential layer to their success and, by extension, the success of our lab, our company, our enterprise.
I suspect there is always a bit of tension for those of us who come from the ranks of the always doing to the ranks of doing a bit less with our heads down and more with our ears out.
Now I know you want to hear something more product or technology related because we are after all a software company, and we make products and services closely tied to those products. So here it is.
Yesterday and today, I had a customer come to me with a need. And I felt like I could fulfill that need, not because I had a brand new shiny staff (“so shiny, so chrome”), but because I had the vision way back when I had no one else that this was something that my customers needed, that they should want, that I just needed to figure out how to get their attention and sell them on. I built that thing and yet no one came.
Existential Crises #3 and #4
OK there it is. Existential crisis #3. I am not a salesperson or at least probably not a good one. I get excited about what I do, what my company does, what my customers do, and I want to make things where that entire chain, all the way down to me (as existential crisis #4 — The Procedure Evading Patient – a.k.a. “I can’t afford to fix me syndrome”), are eternally enthralled and excited. But excitement is not what we are selling, and enthusiasm does not close the deal.
Fair warning — here comes a trial close:
And yet, there was the crucial confirmation, that the old me and new me can get along just fine. This concept, this solution from my earliest days as the (O)ne, will be revived, will evolve, and will be better. Not in spite of, but rather because I have a staff far more able than me in my aloneness, that can make the next instance an even better manifestation of what it could have ever hoped to be.
Four existential crises mapped, reduced, and resolved. At least for today.