Mentors and Perspective

, 2009-06-12

We had my organization's semi-annual combined IT and financial meeting this morning. At the end of these meetings awards and certifications are announced. I had earned an award but I wasn't recognized. I'm a bit disappointed, and I can understand why, but I also know that I shouldn't be. Oversights happen and the things I did to earn the award in question I did because I wanted to do them, not because of the award itself. I enjoyed doing those things and in my mind that should be reward enough. So I'm struggling with myself over the fact that I am disappointed.

To put things in perspective, I'm disappointed about not having my name called whereas the guy who was sitting next to me will likely have to pull an all-nighter to facilitate a customer migration to new servers. And this is after he was up working until 1 AM this morning prepping for the move that will happen tonight. Not only that guy, but two other guys I know will be working like crazy. With that sort of reference point, not having my name called is a really silly reason to be sad.

This got me to thinking about how often we let emotions drive us. Some emotion is good. We should feel passionate about what we are doing. I was passionate about doing those things which earned me the award in the first place. That's emotion. I think if we're using emotion to motivate us to do better, that's fine. But when emotion holds us back from our best, that's a different story entirely. I have had a little talk with myself about how it won't help to be disappointed and that if I were in the same position and there was no award, I still would have done those same things and enjoyed doing them.

It also made me realize that I do wish I had a local mentor to talk to, someone I could pull aside to help me see things in their proper perspective. I was able to see things as they are and make corrections, but that's not always going to happen. Andy Warren has written a lot on mentoring and it has spurred my thinking about the importance of mentors, especially lately. I think that's one thing great mentors are able to do: help folks see things in the proper perspective. In IT our work is so involved and it can consume us. So we can lost perspective on its importance in our life. Likewise, we can have situations like mine today. And we can react wrongly and let affect our actions, our mood, our life. There's no real reason to let that continue. But sometimes it really takes another person, someone we trust and someone we know who's looking to help us grow, to get that through our heads.

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