Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cause & Effect

Once upon a time, I was completely enthralled with a project I was on. It was an underdog, a bete noire--what value could there possibly be in the work? But we knew the importance would be proved. There were long hours away from family as I tended to the job at all hours, doing what no one else could appreciate. There were battles of sorts as I raged against the machine to bring the pieces together, to keep the wolves at bay, and to do all of those other metaphorical things...

... and in the end, it was true: It did pay off.

... and there was some mild gratification that a few people's noses were rubbed in the triumph.

... but most of all, we went to incredible lengths looking for what we knew was there as people tried to stop us, and against the odds we found it.

... and we twisted real human lives and careers into pretzels along the way---including my own.

Everybody loves a story like that, no? Well, except for that last part, maybe. And now it's just a nondescript blip on my resume and an occasional "war story" brought out after the first round or two of whiskey. What was the aftermath? That isn't really discussed to much, ether because we move on to someone else's example or the whiskey eventually overtakes the storytelling.

Or maybe it's because it's just too depressing...

Having completed the "I was right!" dance, the effort validated and finally understood, we moved to transition the effort from the proof-of-concept on to the pros. After all, I've done my part and there are certainly more dragons to be slain. Somehow, though, it just wasn't happening. There was still far more of my push than their pull---there was some uncomfortable balance struck that relied on so much extra effort. "I had to do their job too?" I thought. Maybe they thought I was just a pain in the ass and naturally resisted. Regardless, all of the tensions were in balance in this backward tug-of-war and we inched toward success.

It was ridiculous.

Fine, I thought---I'll just let go of the rope and move along. Let them play phone and email tag with me for a change! The project's value is understood, and if it breaks down, surely someone will notice---and then they'll be forced to take the effort seriously...

... Right?

The system broke down. No one noticed. No one cared.

When I was there to push, everybody at the other end was happy with what came out the other side, yes---that is true. But no one missed it when it was gone.

And that was sad... not just the reality of it all, but that I saw that coming.

But my time was up. It really was time to move on.

There are lots of points for personal investigation here, so let's pause and "digest for a while," as my son likes to say.

No comments: