I was about to click the Publish button for this post about my new role as a product manager when my friend and brother, Scott, called. I mentioned it and Scott said, “You’re not just a product manager. You’re a problem-solver.”
Scott is correct. Hence the parentheses in the title of this post.
“Is This The Best Use of Your Time?”
A friend used to ask me this question all the time. It’s a fantastic question. The question made me pause and think. Pausing and thinking is mostly good most of the time. When is pausing and thinking not good?
When it delays action you desperately need to take; action you are uniquely positioned to take.
Evolution of a Response
For a couple years my response to this question was to answer, “No,” and then I would feel silly for considering the thing I had wanted to do. But then a funny thing began to happen: I increasingly felt cornered by “the best use of my time.”
Let’s pause right here and consider a different perspective. I was being selfish. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, the consequences be damned.
This is an accurate description right up until the point where I didn’t do what I wanted to do – what I felt desperately needed to be done – to help people attempting DevOps with SSIS. Instead I stuffed the ideas back down inside, put my head down, and went back to doing what was a good use of my time.
Was I in any position to make this determination?
Was I qualified to make this call?
Yes. Yes I was.
Coming Out of the Corner
Over time, my response evolved. I stopped feeling silly about wanting to solve DevOps for SSIS and started feeling silly for placing myself into a position which offered more obstacles than opportunities.
The short version of a long story is: I extricated myself from that corner.
Before I did anything else – I am not making this up, I can produce witnesses – I started writing SSIS Catalog Compare. I started coding within minutes of announcing my decision.
I did not know what I was doing.
I am still learning.
I feel like I only recently worked my way up to being a n00b C# developer.
I didn’t know anything about designing a software product. I know more now but (still) not enough.
I didn’t know anything about marketing a software product.
I didn’t know anything about managing a software product.
I continue to learn. Here’s the latest thing I’ve learned:
I am not afraid.
I am not afraid of not knowing. Frank Herbert got it right (in Dune): Fear is the mind-killer. The only way to learn is by using my mind – the same mind battling fear of not knowing.
Was the question about the bet use of my time well-intentioned? Absolutely. My friend was watching out for me, he had my back. I learned from the experience and walked away more mature and with broader perspective. I learned. I grew. I would not be where I am now had I not.
I am a Problem-Solver
Scott reminded me I am a problem-solver. I always have been a problem-solver. Lord willing, I will continue to be a problem-solver.
Becoming a software product manager was required in order to solve a problem.