Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sometimes, the right thing to do is to say goodbye

For five years, I was a technical leader in one talented team of engineers.  Through shared deadlines, common goals and many lunches full of stories and humor, we all became good friends.

I stepped away from the team for a year, to try something new.  Then, as I became interested in a management career, the opportunity to lead half of the old team as their manager came my way.  I've been in my new role with the team for a year and a half now.

It's had its ups and downs.  The distance that the disparity of role creates surprised me, for instance.  I had to go from being their friend and down-in-the-trenches compatriot, to their leader.  Sometimes I've had to ask them to do things I would have grumbled about myself, when I was in their shoes.

But the upside is strong.  My favorite part of this job is helping people advance their own careers.  If I can make available an opportunity for one of them to stretch and grow, in a direction they're passionate about, I feel like I'm making it easier for them to achieve their own goals.  I feel like I'm helping to add value to their work lives and careers, to the strength of the team, and to the company.  There are other ways a manager adds value, but this one is most important to me.

I've had the pleasure of working for two managers who excelled at this.  It was their example, and their encouragement, that led me to pursue the management path after nearly two decades as a software engineer.

Today, the team went out to lunch, to honor one of our members, and pay respect to his departure from the team.  The gentleman leaving the team is a strong engineer, and a friend.  We're sad to see him go, because we'll miss working with him each day.  And it means the family is growing apart.

But, he's making a good move for his career.  He's interested in technical leadership, and the new position offers him a lot of opportunities to lead a small teams of engineers, and show what he can do.  He's interested in working more closely with our end users.  The new team will put him in very frequent contact with a tightly defined group of customers with big, compelling, solvable problems.  I'm excited for him.  I'm happy to have been some part of making this move possible.  I'm looking forward to watching him succeed in the new setting.

What's this got to do with getting healthy?  Not much, perhaps.  But today, the stresses and pressure of my job feel a little lighter.  The rewards feel a little richer.  It's important to notice and honor the things that make life, at work and at home, a little sweeter.  Food for the soul.

Food log:

Breakfast: 1c granola, 1% milk, strawberries and bananas

Lunch: half an order of vegetarian Chow Fun (spicy veggies with wide rice noodles).  Saved the rest for lunch tomorrow.

Dinner: caesar salad, three pieces of pizza at Mountain Mike's pizza, diet soda

Snacks: four crackers, six small slices of cheese

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