In between

I had a meeting this morning with my direct manager. These are pretty casual affairs. We meet offsite at a café downstairs, and the conversation tends to be pretty candid, which is how I like it.

There’s a bit happening at the moment and a fair bit of uncertainty with it. People have left, and their replacements have only recently started. There’s been a state of flux these last 4-6 weeks, and a few have been jockeying for position having spotted an opportunity in the uncertainty.

I’ve not really involved with this – it’s not my style – but I’ve been wary and increasingly concerned that others are trying to encroach on my territory. I’m not easy to push around and I’ve held my ground, but the outcome of all this will influence my plans going forward.

I’m waiting for the dust to settle, also waiting to be engaged with – as promised, but as yet not eventuated. In the meantime, I applied for an opportunistic job over the weekend. On top of that, one of the guys recently departed has been in contact and wants to catch up regarding potential roles at his new employer.

You know me, I’m always figuring things out – things outside me, and things inside too.

By my reckoning my situation has two distinct elements. Almost by accident, I’ve invested a lot of time and brainpower over the last 12 months in the AI space. I’ve enjoyed it and, with respect to my career, have identified it as an opportunity that I wish to take adntage of.

In the beginning there were three of us involved, and I was at the pointy end of it. The other two have gone and I’m left as by far and away the most knowledgeable and experienced person in this area – I practically designed the platform here.

This is what’s under threat, though. Others seemingly have identified the same opportunity, though till now they’ve been uninvolved, and are trying to muscle in.

When I took this job on I sought assurances that I could keep doing it. I had a form of ownership, but the people who gave me the thumbs up have gone now. It weakens my position, but I’m not about to meekly rollover.

The secondary element is something I actually managed to articulate quite well to my manager today.

I’ve got an awful lot of experience in senior roles and in delivering serious projects of all kinds. I consider myself knowledgeable and smart and curious besides. I like to know and understand things and keep myself informed. All of this means that I sit here watching on while others talk about or do things that I’ve done before. I’m surprised how poorly informed many people are, and often, how poorly or incompletely things are executed. Mostly I let it go, but at times I’ll chip in with my 2c worth.

The problem is there’s hardly anyone here who knows my background. The people you’d think might be interested have never bothered to inquire. That means when I speak up, it comes across as opinion only when actually it’s based on knowledge and experience. It’s frustrating, but mostly I let it ride.

What’s tougher is when things happen that are in my area or directly impact upon me that are poorly conceived or executed. I hate sloppiness of any sort, and it makes me sick to the stomach to see it. I can hack it if I look away, but when I have to confront it I just can’t rest until it’s made right.

The kicker is that I don’t want to take responsibility for these things. As I explained to my manager, I’ve taken a step back from that sort of responsibility. I don’t want to live it. I want to walk away from the job at the end of the day and be myself. I’m full-on when I’m doing it, but when I’m out of there I know it’s only a job, chill. But then, nor can I watch the car heading for a crash without looking to prevent it.

This sums up my predicament. I’m in conflict with myself, determined to step away but unable to stay uninvolved. I dunno is if it’s a sustainable position long term. Effectively it’s a battle between an ascetic desire to keep it personal and private on the one hand, and my ego and perfectionism on the other.

What this means if I choose to step away from this place is anyone’s guess. I figure I’m going to have to make a decision. But that’s why I’m also targeting AI as a transportable skill that means that one day – perhaps – I can be a visiting consultant.

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