I’m on the management side of the labor divide and yet I’ve never held a position my parents would consider a permanent job. To work these days is effectively to be employed at will.
I once had a senior executive tell me that my team was an experiment. To prove the value of development staff, we had to replace an outsource, maintain their legacy applications, and deliver a challenging new project. If we failed, next year’s budget would go to re-establishing the outsource.
We faced a hard date, skeptical clients and a steep learning curve but we had an honest leader, the means to succeed and a way of measuring it. All we had to do was execute.
I never felt more control over my fate.
A family friend works for Doctors Without Borders. His labor benefits society in ways that will outlive him. In the balancing act that is my life — privileged by world if not New York standards — I’ve deferred, if not entirely foregone legacy. My job is about significance and achievement. Significance comes in providing for my family, not only a biological imperative but a profound joy.
Achievement rests in approaching each year as if it were an experiment. What accomplishment justifies my continued employment? What one thing should I do to materially advance the interests of my employer, our customers and/or my team? It’s the chart of that course that makes me show up in the morning and it’s sightings along the way that allow me to sleep at night.