2007 was a year of big changes.
I finished up a 30 year career in computer science, including 4 years in software engineering research for the United States Navy and 26 years at IBM.
Then I set out on my own as a coach, workgroup advisor, speaker, and writer.
It’s very strange to go from being one of 350,000 employees to being one of one. Corporate maze running is no longer an important skill. I can’t assume there are other people to take care of things for me, such as marketing. Back in the big corporation, we software developers tended to assume marketing required entirely different skills from ours to create hype and sizzle. But now I see marketing is much more basic. People have to know about your services before they can hire them. Period. Do I believe I can give value? You betcha. So now it’s up to me to connect with people I can benefit. How beautifully uncomfortable that is! What a lot of learning I’m doing.
I love owning my time every day and having my commute be a short walk down the hallway. I do have to remind myself to stop work and use my evenings to rest and regroup. There’s always so much left to do, but it will still be there to do in the morning.
In 2007, I focused on the things people can do themselves to increase job satisfaction. That doesn’t mean denying the negative aspects of their jobs. I don’t like whitewashing over negative facts. But there are many things that people can do – in spite of those negative aspects – to make work life better.
I also went to three outstanding conferences this year.
One was the Appreciative Inquiry conference, also called Symphony of Strengths. Appreciative Inquiry is a process for transformative change that starts by exploring the positive core of an organization. What are the root causes of its successes? What are the strengths of its people? I love the statement that focusing on problems drains the energy for change right out of people. It reminds me of the nickname we had for the people who can always see why things won’t work: keepers of the nightmare. Change is uncomfortable!
Another was the Gallup Global Well-being Forum. I presented a poster on some of my job satisfaction work, which I hope to get published as a paper in 2008. I also heard Scott Sherman speak about Social Action that works. In his dissertation research on social action movements, he stumbled on some of the same ideas that underlie positive psychology.
Another was the International Coaching Federation conference. I heard great keynote speeches and witnessed masterful demonstrations of coaching. I was inspired by Julio Ollala’s discussion of coaches helping people move beyond denial or depression to personal responsibility and hope in the face of the big challenges of our time. That gave me ideas for an article on sustainability.
I am writing, studying, speaking, coaching, advising, and living positive psychology to the best of my ability. I am experiencing the state of discomfort that comes with times of great opportunity.