I’ve always given myself permission to fail.
However, I’ve never taken myself up on it. Until now. I have 17 years of IT experience behind me in the form of Software Developer, Development Lead, Project Manager, Scrum Master, Tester and Test Manager (and I’m sure I’m missing a title somewhere). I’ve always taken on the next role while giving myself permission to abort mission and return home at any time. But, each time, I’ve enjoyed the next challenge and happily kept plowing ahead. Until now.
Before my current position, I was a Test Automation Manager (see, I told you I missed a title) at a smaller company (500 employees) where I’d been for 4 years. Although I was a manager, I lead my team by following the Scrum practices that had endeared themselves to me while I was a Scrum Master several years ago. My team, my family really, had met a huge goal – the end result of that goal was that they should be matrixed out to their Feature teams. My heart was broken, but it was the right thing to do. So, I was ready for a new challenge when a recruiter rang my phone. She described what seemed like a rare opportunity (even before she mentioned words like “Senior Manager”, “Incentive Plan” and “Pension”). I was intrigued. I knew that this job would present much more responsibility than I was accustomed to – I would have 5 times the number of direct reports, work with much larger teams and deal with the politics that come along with a multi-billion dollar company. I agreed to an interview. I went into the process with the attitude, “I am interviewing THEM”. Well, THEY aced the interview and I turned in my notice. But, before I accepted the offer, I do what I always do – I gave myself permission to fail. If it turned out that this illustrious opportunity was just not for me, I had tasted success in many other arenas and could return home to any of them. But that allowance was quickly forgotten.
I excelled. I “Exceeded Expectations” on performance reviews and moved the needle, righted the ship and many other overused cliches. All of that. Then, an Organizational change. And 6 months later, another one. 6 months later, yet another. I started losing my way. Without consistent support, I became directionless, complacent, passionless. A slap in the face presented itself in the form of a meager “Meets Expectations” performance review. I was crushed. A wake up call. I had to do something.
I briefly thought about leaving. But I loved the company’s enterprise commitment to Agile, as well as the people and the paycheck. I was stuck.
Then one day in a meeting, I was awestruck by the words of a new team member. He spoke with passion, sincerity and conviction. That spoke to me. That used to BE me. After the meeting, I asked him to be my mentor. I needed some of that. Best. decision. ever.
In our first session, I told him my story – the same one that I just told you. He saw my passion when reliving my previous job opportunities. He saw ME. He GOT me. And then he gave me permission to fail.
This blog is a journal of my journey from Senior Manager to Scrum Master. A pay cut, a self-demotion, a less shiny status, a happiness gain, a passion inducer, a purpose-fulfilling life change. Doing what I love.