Throughout my career, I have had to solve many problems for people with fuzzy requirements, or a poor understanding of what it is, exactly, they have a problem with. This is typical of the kind of work I have done in the systems administration, IT, and technical support fields of various industry verticals. It's my kung fu. My super power. I tend to consider problems holistically, and objectively, and help guide people to not only the answers they want, but more importantly the questions they should be asking.
When faced with a project or problem set that is not well defined, the first step is always to seek clarity. And while most people may not know what their problems are specifically, they often know what they want to have happen. So a common starting point for me is to ask someone what success means for a given question, project, etc. Knowing what success means helps to frame the current reality, highlighting where it falls short, or isn't quite efficient, or whatever. It's the goal. Agreement on the measurable outcome for success helps everyone frame the situation, and it focuses future conversation, thought, and effort.
None of this is particularly novel or insightful, I think. But I have been having some conversations lately with my best friend about life and goals and getting healthy both physically and mentally. As we have asked each other questions to break down and work through some of the struggles we have each been facing, it has dawned on me, with no small amount of shame, that I have utterly failed to ask myself even this most basic question.
I have career goals and aspirations and a very clear idea of what is and is not success as I work and grow and learn in my profession. But, of course, this is only a small part of what it means to be successful as a person. I have so deeply conflated these two things I have completely lost sight of myself outside of this professional capacity. I have many ideas why. It's easier, for one. The deliverables are clearer and I have others to be accountable to. Not so in the realm of Tyler. Only me. Just me. And due to a lifetime of struggle with anxiety and depression, I am too apt to believe the lies that I am not worth the effort, for my own sake.
The title of this post is stolen from the Tom Petty song wherein he sings,
Had to find some higher ground
Had some fear to get around
You can't say what you don't know
Later on won't work no more
. . .
Square one, my slate is clear
Rest your head on me, my dear
It took a world of trouble, took a world of tears
Took a long time... to get back here
So that's where I am. Square One. Finally admitting that I have pushed these questions so far down brings me to the beginning. What makes a successful Tyler? What do I want? Am I doing the things to get there?
I don't know yet. It's going to take an awful lot of thought and introspection and trial and error and help, but I know I want to answer them. And that's a start.