(moving houses, gardening, and new dimensions)
Early 2001. I decide to resign. My wife only asks me to pursue an occupation that keeps me challenged for more than two years. A reasonable request. After all, since graduating in 1992 I worked less than one year as a software engineer (on VAX), less than three years as a hardware and software engineer (C++ and micro-assembler), and we had a bookshop for about three years.
And, well, my two years with this start-up e-commerce were pretty turbulent too. An unaspired climb to ‘senior manager’ (layered titles are part of working with former McKinsey people). Bribed into a stock option plan (brilliantly devalued through the e-com bubble burst, draining the very little savings we had made since our bookshop days). Franticly favoring people over structures. Fourteen hours working days (commuting not included). IT and back-office manager (titles being what they are). In the end, endless disagreements with the manager-founders. Over which I quit (despite my emotional investments). To be pulled back by the investors, and end up as a dehumanized puppet in strategic schemes. Once our company survival plan takes shape, I leave anyway, disgusted by the offer of IT Directorship.
I enter the unknown territory of consulting to spend six years at one company (a world record, truly), only to discover true joy again (almost at the level of the bookshop) through eXtreme Programming and Scrum in 2003. I grow my small 10-person company within the company, a chapter ending with a top-down inspired mutiny early 2007. Before the mutineers are struck down by depressions and other forms of nervous breakdowns I had set sail again. Recover, move on.
After two adventures of less than three years I leave consulting in 2013. I had just been upgraded to ‘principal consultant’ (titles, again, not work). I had put my heart, soul and passion in Scrum at these companies. It dropped dead. I felt highly miserable over that. Until people pointed out how it had influenced many, many individuals, and inspired a few enterprises. Just not the consulting company’s structures.
Spring 2015. These past two years Scrum has been the focal point of whatever it is I do. I even wrote a book on it, which seems to be well received by those who read it. I realize I have traveled. Happy not getting anywhere. Traveling is what we do, still.
Our horizon expanded from the smallest thinkable village in Belgium to Belgium itself, to the Netherlands and Europe, to working with people around the planet. An enlightening and humbling journey. Full of things that take time. Beauty. Growing flowers. Becoming what I didn’t know I wanted to be. Unlearning. Mastery.
I remain in doubt. A constant state. I am good at searching. I am terrible at finding. But gradually I grow less ashamed.
My family is my stability. We lost people (some dear, some not). We gained liberty. We have three kids (two have disabilities). We cope. We prosper. We bought a house we didn’t know we wanted. We are close. We travel. Too.
I have found I have personal values. They have served me well on my traveling. They helped me decide to resign. They help me look beyond a career, beyond scoring off other people, beyond lies, beyond backstabbing.
I am writing this to share. There is nothing but the world to share it with. I am cleaning the house. I am writing this to find out. Maybe I will stop reading mails for a year and 3 days. I am good at trying. I won’t succeed. That’s fine. That is beauty. I am grateful. I discover. Serendipity.