Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Beginnings

Nearly two years ago I started thinking about how to restructure my life so that my work, my passions, and my soul could begin to converge. That process has led me on some unexpected journeys, and introduced me to folks I am now honoured to count among my society, and these days, it feels more and more like I've managed to honestly integrate all the things in my life that matter to me.

A lot of things are helping me with this, not least still Peter Senge's wonderful book, The Fifth Discipline, which is what sparked the original idea of all this in me.

And now I've maybe moved on to a new stage. I've joined FreshBooks as their new Software Development Manager (or as my new business cards say, "Chief Cat Herder"). This is a fantastic company that is based on the kinds of foundations I tried so hard to establish at previous places, only to discover that I can't do it myself.

You can't fake a collaborative environment based on the idea of a learning organization. You can't pretend to hand power over to your employees. It's really one of those all-or-nothing things. Either your employees are trusted to handle their responsibilities, or they aren't. Either you care about bringing value to your customers, or you don't.

I've been at FreshBooks for nearly a month now, and they walk the walk. Everyone here is utterly concerned with making sure our customers are insanely happy. And that translates into making sure our co-workers are insanely happy.

So I'm pretty much insanely happy right now.

And more than that! I mean, it gets better.

I can't reveal all the details yet, but there's a few like-minded collaborators, mostly folks I've picked up in my many travels, who are putting the final touches on a whole new thing. A thing unlike anything you've seen. Pretty much.

The DINO-PIRATES are by no means forgotten, nor have they been left to fend for themselves. We've been working on them all along, and darn soon now, we're going to have some SERIOUS revealage to undertake. These fantastic illustrations are just a backdrop to what's going to put a lot of folks into a great big "Holy Crap!" bit of shock and awe.

It's starting to feel like 2008 is gaining a little traction, and as I surmised, it's turning out to be a year entirely unlike any other. I have no idea where it's going, and I don't feel even a little bit in control. But I'm finding the illusion of control is dropping easily from my eyes, and in its place I find the ability to savour the turns and twists that my life is undergoing more satisfying, and more enjoyable, than any sense of my own power.

I tell my co-workers this all the time: "I'm making this up as I go." It worked for Indy alright, why shouldn't it work for me?

I've been reading some of the essays of Montaigne (French guy, 1500's), and came across this passage in the last of them, "Of Experience":

Have you been able to think out and manage your own life? You have done the greatest task of all. To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquillity in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.


I was engaged in a discussion on a message board I sometimes frequent that got into why folks did or didn't choose to follow particular religions. I didn't post this idea, but it occurred to me in reviewing that discussion, that something I have sought in the study of swordsmanship is a practice that can help me to learn how to, in Montaigne's words, "live appropriately".

For some reason I have faith that if I simply focus on living appropriately, and do not spurn the opportunities that come my way, that things will turn out. That I will be able to "accomplish" things and to do what is required wherever I find myself. This faith has grown stronger all my life, and one thing I've learned in all the upheaval and trauma my life has gone through in the past few months is that often the best thing for me to do is simply to relax.

These are beginnings. In a sense, things are always beginning.