Working on the Bubble

January 29, 2003

Once again my job is in jeopardy. My client, the State of Illinois, is having their annual budget crisis. Even though this occurs every spring it is impossible to be emotionally prepared for its arrival. This year Illinois? first democratic governor in 30 years enhances the festivities. Although the press releases insist that a witch-hunt isn't going to occur firings are happening daily. It is a scary place and time to work.

Last June the project to which I am contracted was canceled in the published budget. Only through some fast-talking, and a 3 million dollar loan, was our team restored. Now we are in the barrel once again. We are nearly ready to release a product that is the culmination of 4 years of work. Our pilot date is April 7th, and we are reasonable certain we will make that date. Once the application is in the hands of the end-users we hope there will be more reason to extend the project. If we don't release on time our tenure here will almost certainly come to an end.

Given the current climate of fear here it is very hard not to sink into some emotional morass. Daily I find myself reaffirming that I need to stay positive and upbeat. At the same time I am fully aware that no one else is looking out for my best interests. The mere fact that there is no assurance from the client of continuation, even if we complete the pilot on time, tells me everything I need to know about being too trusting.

So I have started to examine my current options and I am beginning to lay the groundwork for the very few remaining options here in Springfield. Financially we would be devastated if we had to move this year. I know that I will get what I need to continue my growth, but trusting that my needs will be met without the need for lots of chaos is hard. In the past I have needed some major upheaval to grow. I think I am past the need for drama and chaos. In fact as I say this I realize that I am the one who controls how dramatic this contract renewal process plays out.

If I keep myself emotionally centered and focused on meeting my needs while addressing my fears I will be able to keep working here. Only if I give into the fear of losing this position will I be faced with the chaos and upheaval of having to move. In the past I felt that I had to talk to people and nail down every last detail in order to ensure getting what I wanted. Now I know this isn't true. I need to let go of the need to control the situation through others or events. Rather I need focus on myself and trust that the TAO will take care of the rest. Knowing that this is the best approach and implementing it are two vastly different things.

Writing about it here helps because I can hear my own voice and council. When I just think about these issues it is too easy for my false-personality to insert fear into the flow of thoughts. And fear is what keeps us trapped in the same cycles. Only by voicing the fear and naming it can we defeat its hold on our lives.

My fear is losing this position and having to return to working in a more traditional way. Well, that is what my false-personality would have me believe. In truth, my fear is about continuing to have this good situation that is easy and comfortable for me. I see other people working hard to deal with the chaos and drama in their lives and I think I am doing it wrong because my life isn't like theirs. Knowing that I am motivated differently, and that I meet my needs differently doesn't always make it easy to continue to head in my own direction.

I think having the life I want is like baking biscuits. The recipe is so simple it is very hard to do well. There is little room for error. In life, at least my current situation, there isn't much I can do to keep it going, other than stay out of my own way. There are, however, a myriad of things I could do to over mix my biscuits, and that would ruin them.

Trust of self is never easy, often lonely, and always rewarding.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.