We all get to choose who we wish to become. While that has always been true, there have been few opportunities quite so significant and meaningful as the situation in which we find ourselves today. We have been collectively in a liminal transition from the start of the pandemic. While we didn’t choose this, there are opportunities to learn from it. In particular, there is a choice of how each of us emerges from the experience. This isn’t about going back to where you were before; none of us are doing that fully. As you navigate towards your next normal, you have the opportunity to use your current liminal reality to shape and define who your future self. There will never be a better opportunity for broad reinvention of who you become and where you go than the situation you find yourself in today.
I have always been a generalist. To a certain extent, that is the consequence of the foundation of my career being project management. Project managers are in many ways the ultimate generalists. Being a generalist, though, often gets dismissed or derided as lacking depth, being a dilettante or being variable in approach or understanding. Those ideas are embedded in the very definition of the term, and our system biases towards specialization and expertise reinforce them further. Despite this, generalists provide a critical role in collaboration and particularly problem solving; areas where depth of expertise is presumed to carry the day. It could be that being a generalist has expertise of its own.
You can attempt to push through by sheer will alone. In fact, you can do so for a surprisingly long time. While it might work as a strategy in the short term, it is rarely sustainable in the long-term. What you think is in your circle of control is very often at best open to influence, and might be entirely dependent upon luck. Recognizing that is the first challenge. Knowing what to do about it comes next.
At the start of the pandemic, all of us wanted a reset button. The desire was enormous to go back to the way things were. That idea was a non-starter then, and nothing has changed about it. For many of us, what we have experienced since has felt less like a reset button than a pause button. The world has suspended itself in a repeating cycle of lockdowns, cautious reopening and questions about when the next normal might assert itself. We may be getting close, finally. As we do, a different reset button is presenting itself. It is an open question about whether you will push it or not.
My last article explored the evolution that I’ve navigated since I started writing here more than a decade ago. A lot has changed in that time. Writing here, I’ve found my voice, clarified my focus and continued to attract more of you to come check out what I do (and most of you have continued to hang around, often for years). I promised to share my perspective on who I think my typical reader is. I also promised to share what I heard from you in the survey I asked you to complete. The two perspective combine to tell an interesting tale.
I have been publishing to my blog for more than a decade. In that time, I have changed a great deal. I’ve changed cities, shifted organizational focus and radically restructured how I spend my time. Of course, you’ve changed also. You aren’t the same person you were any more than I’m the same person that I was. You may have been here from the outset; you may have just signed up last week. What I’m curious about is where you are at, where you are going, and what you’d like to see here going forward. I’d be grateful if you would take the time to share your insights.