Monday, August 10, 2015

Life Matters

All-nighters, (80) hour work weeks, crunch-time, etc.. Are these the hallmarks of great technical leads? No. These align more closely with that of a marathon runner who limps across the finish line hours after the others. Did he finish race? Yes. Did he fare well in the race? Absolutely not.

Don't be silly. You want to win.

Intense arguments, no smiles, stressing over disagreements, explosive outbursts, etc.. Are these the hallmarks of great technical leads? No. These align more closely with my two year old on a grumpy day.

Stop it. You're better than that.

The greatest performers I've worked with don't have these problems and are a joy to be around. They have this characteristic in common: they are great family men and women. Key behaviors I noticed:

  1. They put in great work weeks, then go home. No wacky hours, no coming in to work on the weekends, no email off-hours*, etc.. Sure, they do overtime here and there when truly needed, but this is not the norm.
  2. They lead healthy lives outside of work. Examples: Romance their spouses. Play with their kids. Workout. Fellowship. Volunteer. Read. Cook. Etc..

I remember marveling at these performers back-in-the-day. How do they do it? How do they find the time? More puzzling, there were young stars on our teams that seemed beyond their years they were so good. So what did they all have in common? You guessed it, the same thing.

About ten years ago, I made the decision to join them; to put at least as much energy into my personal life as my professional one. Incredibly, this made me a better performer, teammate, and leader. This simple realignment of priorities did far more for me than those legendary all-nighters ever did.

Lesson Learned: Life matters. Put at least as much energy into your personal life as your professional one.

* Added 'no email off-hours' on 25 Aug 2015. Forgot all about this (because I haven't done it for years now). This takes great discipline, but is well worth it. While it may seem counter-intuitive, this 'break from work' gives you huge energy to attack problems. Don't underestimate what you can do (and how fast you can do it) with a well rested mind.