Striving for Status Quo

I’m tired.

I’m exhausted by pursuing so many things at some level of excellence for the past several years. I’ve made a habit of striving for greatness, even when it hasn’t been necessary. To be brutally honest overachievment hasn’t helped me much in any job I’ve worked at, when I look at how much effort I’ve put in to my craft (any craft) versus what I (or Suzy, Logan or Mr. Chompers) have gotten for it.

Which is why, for my wellness and to spend much more enjoyable *time* with Logan, Suzy and Mr. Chompers, I’m giving my ambition a much needed vacation and just stick with the status quo.

Economically, my extra efforts at work (current and previous) don’t yield the results I expect. Since getting out of college, I’ve put in tremendous amounts of effort and time — personal time — unpaid personal time — towards my work to provide my employer and my clients with the absoulte BEST effort producible. As a result, I’ve often been told that I’m not much of a team player, and some have misinterpreted my commitment to excellence as aggressive ambition — raising the bar for my own purposes rather than the greater good (for me and my peers, employers, clients, etc.). That’s not what I’m about, and I’m just tired of defending myself when I’m doing everything scouting, teaching, college and leadership tells me to do.

It’s not like I’ve been looking for more money or promotions. I know that when I want those things, I need to move on. In this industry, that’s just the way it is. There’s very little promotion from within based on talent. And that’s not a complaint. That’s just the harsh reality that everyone has to face in education or technology — especially if you think you need more compensation.

What others view as an agenda is really the rift between common operational practices (in any organization) and my efforts to improve those practices from within. I’ve been looking to be a lifer in fields that only look at the current fiscal year, as a practice. My efforts at improving things from a strategic outlook often are incompatible with the tactical view of “what are we doing today?” And I think that this conflicting approach to all sorts of problems, in particular, is what wears me down.

It bothers the shit out of me to undo or re-do work that I predicted should be done another way, especially when that suggestion is shot down at the time of suggestion — before the extra effort must be made. I think I gained this attitude about doing the extra work to do the job right the first time from my dad. But go figure: my dad is as guilty of this as anyone.

With all the lumber he stored in his basement that had to be moved out before he sold his house in Mequon, I grimaced as I spent a Labor Day Saturday last year moving that crap out to the garage — even though years before when he had me move it down, I suggested getting rid of it or keeping it in the garage somewhere. Irony (and foresight) is a shrewd mistress.

I think anyone involved in any kind of government or major commercial endeavor — anyone who deals with layers of inflexible beaureaucracy — understands where I’m coming from. There are any number of junctures in your work week where you know a ship is sinking; you know that with a little bit of extra effort you (and others) can avoid a lot of pain later, but the powers that be (procedures, management, circumstance) are just hell bent on letting the ship sink a whole lot more before any kind of dramatic effort will be made to keep that ship afloat, let alone sail. If you speak up too much about how the ship is already sinking, you know you’ll be branded as a nay-sayer. And when you’re a nay-sayer, you might as well be thrown overboard.

So rather than be thrown overboard, this naysayer is going to try to content himself to go with the flow. I will perform excellent work, to the best of my ability, when there’s work to be done, but I’m going to *try* to stop tilting windmills and work on sticking to the status quo, which means I’m going to try and stop inventing projects, suggest or advocate change and keep the elements outside of work at the priority level they should be — which is, more important than the day job that affords them.

I’m going to try *very hard* to stick to the clock, and when my eight hours are done, I’m going to go home to the peanut and the puppy, and give Suzy a break.

My experiences at CTC are certainly a catalyst, but CTC isn’t the problem. It’s obvious to me, after running into the same interpersonal roadblocks everywhere, that the problem is me. So for a little while, I’m going to try and ply myself away from the keyboard and expend my creative energies on home. Logan should be happy about seeing her daddy in the daylight. Maybe Mr. Chompers will play and cuddle with me more.

Next summer, I’ll start to spend my pent-up intellectual capital on grad school. And I’m going to enjoy tackling whatever comes across my plate at work.

That’s the plan, anyway. You’ll obviously keep up with how well I stick to it. 😉