Monday 22 April 2013

Inherit the Wind

Well, not exactly.  Anyway, I just started week two of my role of minor jefe.  Trying to get myself into the mode of thinking "strategically".  That's going to be a new one for me.  Never actually really thought that way before.  If I see something and I understand something, I like to just step in and do it - not delegate.  What if they don't do it correctly?  How can I have it done to my exact specifications?  I think I am rapidly coming to realise that I am a control freak (who doesn't like to be known as a control freak) and it's going to be tough to step back a bit and direct.

I'm heading a team currently of four, which is set to grow over the next few years.  I'm the youngest and have been working for the council the shortest.  I'm the only one not local.  One person has been in his role, or one quite similar, since 1978.  Going to need to go about this rather delicately.  They seem like good people.  They take pride in their work.  They are also very direct and unafraid to fall back upon "not in my job description".  There I come with my newfangled silly big city ideas, policy documents, strategy and some such.  Have to admit I feel a little bit like the fresh graduate dumped into his first job, or trying to speak a language with real people in a real situation, having only learned it in a classroom.  Still, it's what I wanted - I've come to realise I'd actually been sitting in my little corner at work dying just a little bit each day, feeling like I would never actually get to do anything on my own.  Other people's projects.  Other people's ideas.  Other people's methods.  It's taken me, I suppose, seven years since leaving the PhD to feel I had the confidence to lead anything, or to convince anyone else of that.

I actually think it's the perfect situation in which I find myself.  Yes, I already miss being able to just make things work "because they are a good idea" - I miss being able to do something on my computer without having to write a business case for it and send in the IT troops.  I miss being in a team of people that like to pull apart a problem.  I suppose the flip side of that though was that I always felt a bit like the team dummy before - never quite able to get my head around a problem as the same was as others (whether or not that was true).  I don't know - I suppose I'm nearly forty and it's about time that I'm supposed to be the expert.  I still think though - good God - I'm suppose to develop the policy and I don't get to just sit in the corner and be grumpy and weird.  Well, I suppose I will still be weird - I am definitely the foreigner of the team - previous job was mostly foreigners, so I was rather unremarkable in that regard - not so now.

Unrelated - I went cycling out to Canterbury yesterday with Leonel - fantastic, hilly and beautiful ride.  There was a slight bit of ickiness on the train coming back in though.  We'd just left Bromley South and were going along at speed when the train honked briefly.  Then there was this sound coming along the bottom of the train - sounded a lot like driving through a really gloopy mud puddle at high speed, except chunkier.  The train shuddered to a halt and the passengers kind of looked around, wondering what that was.  Eventually came an announcement that the train had experienced an "incident".  That's never a good thing.  We sat for a while longer, watching the sun setting over Crystal Palace - wondering.  Finally, the conductor walked back along the length of the carriage, stopping to tell people individually what happened.  A jumper.  They had called the "relevant authorities" and someone would come eventually.  So, that was the sound of a body, or body parts, being ripped apart underneath my seat.  I wasn't actually sure how I felt and I'm still not.  Horrified that such a thing had happened.  Huge amounts of sympathy for the driver and the person's family and friends.  And a huge amount of anger and, actually, contempt.  How utterly selfish that someone would jump in front of the train, putting everyone's lives in danger, traumatising the driver and causing a whole lot of people a whole lot of inconvenience.  Maybe that's heartless of me and yes, I do absolutely understand getting to the point where you feel like the best thing to do is to end it all, but, well, do it quietly in your own home or something.  I probably shouldn't be a suicide counsellor...

Anyway, it's been an interesting week - will see how things pan out in the next few!

Monday 15 April 2013

New Crayons

Started my new job today. Team Leader of the GIS and Information Team at Greenwich Council.  I have all the skills, the background and the personality to do this job.  I am completely prepared.  It is what I should be doing - a new challenge - a big project.  I remember how hard I worked as an undergrad and I can do that again, if I have a purpose.  I'd also never felt quite so unprepared today.  Me?  Lead a team?  You've got to be joking!  People who have been in the council since the dawn of time - doing things in exactly the way they do it because that's just how it's been done.  And I waltz in, from the outside, and I's gonna sort shit out and make this into a real team.  OMG - collect yourself!  I suppose it is true, the whole nothing to fear but fear itself, but fear is quite a fearful thing.  Well, I just have to approach it in small bits - be organised, be reasonable, be a pushy pain in the ass, accept what needs to be accepted and push for the things I can.  God I sound like a cliche.  Anyway, it really is what I need - I'd grown comfortable - didn't really try that hard  - I'd kinda forgotten what it is to work my ass off for something I believe.

In a job I suppose fit for a geographer, I will be crossing the Prime Meridian every day on the way to work.  I suppose there is something vaguely cosmically exciting about that.  Tomorrow will be my first day to bike there.  Today was, hopefully, my only day to wear a tie. ;-)

Anyway, just remember the most useful thing I learned from 8th grade - "just try not to trip, fall, pee your pants or make the fire alarm go off and you will be fine."

Good words, those.

And I just read about the Boston Marathon.  I don't know what to say, not at all.  Just horror and dread about what is now to come.