Mercenary

Sometimes there’s no room in your life for sentimentality and the more ties you cut the easier that is to deal with. Just under four months into a new job, today I handed in my notice. I felt guilty but remembered that the job I do is that of a mercenary, you cannot get too tangled in the company you work for regardless of the culture or the people. You work to live and if an offer comes up that will make your quality of life better, you just have to grab it with both hands and go for it.

What does quality of life mean to me? It means the ability to be able to give my daughter everything she needs and within reason some of the things she wants. For me it’s about having the time to do what I want with my life and also the funds. Perhaps it’s also about knowing that the job I’m doing is well received and motivating. I’m the kind of person who cannot just turn up to the office and do my job as it’s been laid out in front of me, I’m constantly pushing for better, I want to fix what doesn’t work and improve on things to make life easier. For such a chaotic person in my personal life, when it comes to work, I love organised structures of the well oiled virtual world, where integrations are clear, where we know what does what and everybody knows what they’re doing. I like to push things as far as they can be pushed, I enjoy the challenge of change for the better. For me it’s about what we can do to make it happen, rather than asking if we can try to do that in the first place. I’m not great with complainers who put up and continue to moan, I’d much rather be the person who says nothing but leads the solution.

I sit and look at my career so far as I’m on the cusp of another step up to get to where I want to be. It’s not been easy, from musician to Data Architect via a myriad of project management, people management and training roles, and yet here I am. Perhaps that’s what makes me different, I’m not a maths graduate, I didn’t learn to code till last year properly, I sat down and learnt it on the job. Why? Because I wanted to. I’m actually in love with the work that I do, the technology I work with and that’s what keeps me motivated. It’s a funny one, when you tell people your background they struggle to find the connection between the Data Architect and the creative mind. But it’s there, it’s there in spades. I have to be able to see the things that people cannot see. I have to be able to explain the things that people cannot see. I have to be able to visualise how it could work, how it can improve things, create options and show people how each scenario plays out. Designing data is actually like creating a music score. Understanding how systems talk is like hearing the different instruments in the orchestra combine. It’s easy when you pull it apart and decide that it’s easy.

People get intimidated by code, by IT, by the things in the cables that they just can’t see, but actually it’s easy if you let yourself learn. And that is why I do what I do. It’s not about power, it’s about being proud of what I helped create, seeing the design come to life, taking the data and making it pretty. Like that game, mouse trap when you get the whole thing built and set the ball rolling, as you watch the thing flip, the catch go, the basket fall down the wiggly plastic and your contraption works.

Since leaving the company that spotted my enthusiasm and pushed me through various roles harnessing that power for thirteen years, I’ve actually found my niche in life. And when I made that first step out of that company into a new one I realised that it’s no longer about the company I work for, it’s about the job I do wherever I am. Being a mercenary is a good feeling. Knowing what I want out of my life without a named ruler means I no longer feel tied, I can move on to places, I can see new things, I can experience everything. The mercenary goes to the king who pays and motivates the best, and not necessarily the king with the biggest empire. The mercenary does the job that they love and when they’re no longer needed can do that job elsewhere because the mercenary worked on a good reputation.

It’s funny how careers seem to be split into two categories, those for the loyal, the 45 years of service with a gold carriage clock and a handshake at retirement and those that are driven by the practicalities of the everyday excitement of fixing, the excitement of change, from the next and on to the next. I’ve now made my transition into the latter. I’m no longer afraid of things getting stale, because my sparkle will follow me where ever I go. I’m no longer scared of leaping and trying something new. I was always going to be okay, I just didn’t know it. It goes for everything in my life, if it no longer works I change it. I don’t let it get me down, I don’t worry. I don’t fret, I sleep so much better…. in spite of insomnia… it’s not worry that keeps me awake at night, it’s new ideas and the urgency to make them happen. It’s a great place to be in your life when you realise that no matter what happens it will be okay. That you don’t have to hold on to anything if it’s holding back your happiness. I think that’s the meaning of true freedom, loosing the sentimentality of association regardless of what it is, not feeling trapped by social convention, because at that point you realise your path is the one you chose yourself…

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