So, at Mirazon we do this "thing" most mornings called the Diet Coke Journal. Basically, it's an email (which often turns into a thread with usual amounts of snark and sarcasm) that focuses on some leadership thought/principal in order to help us grow. Karen (my boss) is one of our partners and this is her idea. I love the concept. From time to time, I guest post. I'm going to post soon in a more compressed/summarized form of the below :)
So… the other day I wrote this in a thread about the Diet Coke Journal
One of my books I read (or at least skim) each year is “Speed of Trust” by Stephen Covey (the son – not the dad who wrote the “7 habits” book)
I always come back to this phrase/paragraph – it’s very relevant to me (and maybe you as well). The “green words” were added by me – not the author.
“Unless you’re continually improving your skills, you’re quickly becoming irrelevant. And when you’re irrelevant, you’re no longer credible. And without credibility, you won’t sustain trust – which dramatically impact both speed and cost. One thing to be careful of with regard to skills is what author Jim Collins (Good to Great, Built to Last, etc.) calls “the curse of competence.” It’s the idea that sometimes we become good at doing something were’ not really talented in or passionate about. (A technical example for me – this is SSL / CA / PKI – Certificates - something that used to scare the bejeezus out of me but something I understand very deeply today). As my father often says, “Your current skill-set may or may not correspond with your natural talents.” We need to make certain that the skills we develop don’t limit or define us. At the end of the day, talent provides a deeper well than skills.”
Then my notes below...
Would it surprise you to know that technology isn’t really my passion in life? I’m “good” at it. I would argue that the culmination of my experiences and talents and training and education (3 of my 5 degree programs) would lead you to believe that it is. But, in the last 5-10 years, it’s mostly just been my career/job – but not my passion. It’s what I “do” every day. But I’m passionate about many other things (and more things) than bits and bytes. Chew on that for a minute.
Several of you wrote emails, or Lync messages, even a few text messages to me after my admission that technology isn't my passion. “Daryl? Do you not like technology? Are you going to quit? What do you mean this isn’t your passion? Why are you here?” None of these messages were mean. They are very very good messages and I’m glad they were asked.
So, DW, what are you passionate about? Yes, it’s true. Technology bits and bytes within themselves aren’t really a passionate area of mine. I am “good” at technology. I can still jockey a keyboard and implement some pretty cool stuff. I can architect some really creative solutions and see the come to fruition. That’s fun and all. I’ve still got my 50% of basic networking skills (haha!) going for me :) (inside joke here)
Here are my four passions as it relates to my job: People. Stewardship. Leadership. Inheritance. I’m crazy CRAZY passionate about those four things.
People is a pretty obvious one, eh? I genuinely want people to succeed. One of my favorite parts of my “day job” is the ability to teach, train and elevate people. I want you – if you are reading this – to be better. If there is anything I’ve learned, or I have, or I do that will help you – I’m happy to help you get there. I’m not perfect. I make tons of mistakes every day. I do though feel that God has prepared me for this job. The culmination of my life experiences – including jail time (yes, we all know) – has made me the person I am. I wouldn't change any of them – even the really painful ones. The reason I send a lot of emails is that when I learn something, or find something “interesting” – I want to share it. You always have the right to delete emails I sent you :) Sometimes though you may find a useful nugget in there yourself.
Stewardship is a fun word. In the Church world – it’s often a word used in relation to money. I want to be a good Steward of my time. And my money. And my brain. And my abilities. And my skills. And my candy. I have 24 hours each day and I hope I use them well. You also have 24 hours each day. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a nap. At other times, you need to push through a 20+ hour work day to make a customer or coworker happy. Part of being a wise steward means keeping an eye toward how that resource (money, time, skillset) can be best use. I’m not an “owner” here at Mirazon – I’m most definitely though a “steward.” For sure. No doubt.
I have the privilege of being specifically mentored in leadership areas. I also have many years of leadership experience. I was a young IT leader (I was in my 20s). I’ve sat at the “big table” for years. I had the honor of traveling all over the place. I've been a part of some pretty amazing companies. I’ve been refined – by actual fire – many times. I have been fired - many times. That sucked. I’m tempered. I also have a temper – but that’s another story And I have much refinement to go. And that’s leadership. At Mirazon, I am not your boss. I am not your mother father. But, I have a leadership role. There are a number of things that I’m responsible for and I have to make wise choices of those People, Products, Services, Processes and Resources. I ask a lot of questions. I give a lot of input (sometimes when it’s not wanted). I want the best for Mirazon. I think you do too – don’t you? I want to be better. I want to learn from my mistakes. I ask for feedback often – especially from our partners and those engineers I work the most closely with. I want to know how I can improve (kaizen - not to be confused with KiZan) because I want to be better next time.
Oh yeah – then there’s inheritance. That’s not just my family – although they are my primary focus when it comes to inheritance. My wife is amazing and we do our best to raise well-trained children. That’s our job. We want them to learn, and respect people, and contribute to society, and play well with other people and to seek justice and be appalled by prejudice in all if it’s forms. That means we have to instill core values. And affirm (and re-affirm) them. That’s kind of like Mirazon right? We’ve talked a lot about core values recently. We’re in the midst of discussing Above & Beyond and turning that into a daily “thing” around here. We’ve often referred to “The Mirazon Way” as well, right? That’s my inheritance. It’s yours too. We have a certain number of years where we can build this company into something awesome. Our roles and responsibilities will shift. Mine certainly have in the 4 ½ years I’ve been here. I anticipate them shifting many more times over the next # of years that I’m entrusted to be a good steward here. As more and more people join our company – it’s our job people to affirm (and re-affirm) our core values and teach and train and grow this company. The partners should not have to shoulder that. We have the freedom and responsibility to steward this company. And I’m very sensitive to that. And passionate about it.
So – am I passionate about technology? Not really. My career happens to be in technology. I get to use technology as a means to teach and watch people grow, be a good steward of resources, lead others to finding solutions (and fun designs). And, I happen to work at a company I strongly believe in. I want to leave a legacy here. Notice that I didn’t say I was passionate about routing. Or switching. Or Lync. Or Cisco. Or myriad other bits and bytes. There are interwoven in there – but – not my focus. Not today :)
What do you think? What are you passionate about?