Breaking Point

March 14, 2006

For the past several months I have struggled mightily to keep the flood of grief contained within the levees that define my personal life. For the most part I have managed to keep my professional life high and dry, as it were. There have been a couple of minor breaks in the dike, but nothing that was really major.

Recent events, however, are conspiring to overwhelm my meager defenses, and I am afraid that my professional persona will suffer as a result. Specifically the impending death of my mother has overloaded me. What little patience I was starting to develop with myself and issues in my personal life is once again gone. And the reserve of patience I was utilizing for work is gone as well. Events and situations that should be like water off a duck's back are now setting me off. Combine this with an atmosphere of retribution and knee-jerk reactions and I am in a dangerous position. As much as I hate to admit this, I have come to the end of the rope and, in order to hang on, I have to jettison anything that might weigh me down.

Being in charge of the project at work is something I always wanted for myself. I am proud of my leadership abilities, and it makes me feel good to have been selected. The reality, however, is that I can't function at the level I need to perform this assignment adequately. I am able to perform my individual assignments as those require minimal interaction with other people and their agendas. Being in charge means accepting those agendas and molding them into a cohesive force that moves the project in the right direction. I simply do not have that level of patience and caring within me now.

In a few minutes I am meeting with the project manager to inform him that I feel it is in the best interests of the client, the project, and all involved, that another resource be given the leadership assignment. On the surface this feels like a cop-out, and I am fearful it will hurt me in the long run in the eyes of the management team. At a deeper level I know I am doing what is best for me, and that any short term impact my stepping aside has on the project, will be more than offset by removing any threat my emotional health might have on the success of the team. Arriving at this decision has been extremely difficult but, having reached it, I am feeling a sense of peace I haven't know for several weeks now.

Peter Drucker is quoted as saying that management is doing things the right way and leadership is doing the right thing. Stepping aside is doing the right thing.

Author's profile picture

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.