Rodney M Bliss

The Art of Letting Go

I suck at art.

I have a friend who is a skilled artist. He really is amazing at it. He’s been doing it for nearly two decades. When he started, he, by his own admission, was bad. Years later, he modestly describes his skill as “less bad.”

My friend practiced daily for years to get “less bad.” Actually, he’s award winning and extremely talented. But, he wasn’t when he started. I don’t draw, but it’s not that art that I suck at. There’s an art to letting go. I hate that art.

When I started my current job, three years ago, I was asked to oversee the technical IT structure for a single building with 50 agents. I joined a team that included two project managers who were dedicated almost fulltime to the effort. Eventually, I took over sole responsibility. It was a steep learning curve, but eventually I mastered it and got to the point that I felt “less bad” in my ability to manage. That year we staffed up our first location to 300 agents and added a second location. Things got busier. I did okay. Occasionally, I got overwhelmed, but only for a few days. I also started to learn I loved my job.

The next year brought two more call centers and hundreds of more agents. I still had to maintain the first center while bringing up the second and third. Another year on the job brought a fourth center and a total of about 2500 agents across four states. I was busy. Happy, but busier than ever. It was very gratifying to get to lead projects that made a real difference in my company, as well as our client.

We also started into a round of upgrades. Technology ages and part of being an IT rich company is changing to keep up. We needed to upgrade software. We added additional lines of business from our client. We expanded our centers. The client’s IT team that had original included 3 people eventually expanded to 5 and then 10. I took pride in the fact that I was still “a single throat to choke.” I was “the guy” for my company.

This year we announced an expansion in our Jackson location. We started a multi-year project to upgrade our entire infrastructure. Each location came up with IT projects that they needed to help them complete their work better. And then, they announced a fifth location. And one of the managers at our original location talked about expansion. I discussed it with my boss.

Rodney, how many active projects to you have going right now?

Ah, let me see, just assigned names to them a couple of days ago, so I have them all listed. . . .ah. . .looks like eleven, large and small ones.

Do you really want to take on a new project at this point?

No, but if the business asked, I would have. I hadn’t realized how full my plate had become. It became more obvious when I took a trip to Jackson for a client audit of our expanded space. Lori, our onsite security analyst showed me our progress.

Where are we at with the power issues for Row K of the new space?

Well, the electricians are saying they looked at it today, but won’t be back until Friday.

I know this is an unfair question, but is that the soonest we can get them back?

It’s tough to let go isn’t it?

Yes! I want to just jump in an do it all myself. The delegating piece is killing me.

The electricians managed to get the power fixed and our inspection was completed and approved on time, but I still struggle with the need to manage remotely.

We all depend on others for our success. Even my friend, the professional cartoonist, relies on someone else to color his work, someone else to handles the business side, and he relies on his legions of fans to support his efforts. The sign of a mature manager is the ability to trust those with whom you work, even if, especially if, you think you could do the job better or faster yourself.

In my case, I know I couldn’t do the work better than my team. Just as I know that I couldn’t make money as an artist.

In both cases it’s obvious, I suck at art.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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