20130206

A Passionate Review

Today was my annual review at work.  I had to rate myself in a variety of categories with a red, yellow, or green (green being best, red needing improvement).  My boss then fills out the same review of me with the same rating system.  Only in two instances did I give myself a green and he gave me a yellow (solely based on interpretation of roles).  Neither of us had any red (thankfully he had no red).  And in many instances he gave me a green where I gave myself a yellow (I gave myself MANY yellows).

The usual comments were (not verbatim, I wasn't writing this stuff down): "you are too hard on yourself"; "you need to have more confidence in what you do"; "you do a great job but you never see it that way"; "your personality is what makes people want to work with you".

I was also told that because I listen so well, and I pay attention to the things people actually say, all those details most people miss...people want to confide in me, in a good way.  Also, again, not verbatim, I have an outgoing personality [for an engineer] and I don't put my head down and ignore things; this kind of personality is what makes it so easy to work with me.  People enjoy working with me.  (Who knew?)

In addition this year, something new I was told, "don't give up on engineering, you are making a great engineer".  Here is where the passion of this story comes in to play.  I admitted to my boss that I am losing the passion for engineering that I once had.

The reality is that I do love engineering!  There are so many hurdles to being passionate about it though.  I alluded to the fact that while there can be great reward, there is a huge battle to get to that reward.  I do not believe the battle is what makes the reward so worthy.  That's part of it, but not all of it.  These battles along with the long hours, the stress...they are making me lose the passion for engineering that I once had.  If I lose passion for what I do, what is to become of me?  No one ever should do work for which they have no passion.

At this point in the review my voice is cracking and I'm vividly gesturing with my hands.  I'm trying to explain that I hate the battles that are causing me to lose this passion for my job.  We structural engineers tend to walk into every meeting prepared to defend everything we do.  No one seems to care that what we do is so important (it doesn't look a certain way, it doesn't cost a certain amount, etc.).  We have THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ON OUR MIND...life safety.  That is a whole different blog for a different day.  But to my point in this review...hands waving wildly, I admitted that I am losing passion for engineering.  The only thing that ever brings me back is walking into a building that I helped engineer.  Telling a friend or acquaintance that the airport they will travel through has some of my brain's handy work.  Understanding an intricacy in a fine detail.  Explaining to someone how we managed to cantilever 8 stories for 60 feet (an unimaginable feat).  I realize I do have passion, but then I look at my e-mail and see the top five things are demands and challenges and I wonder if what I do is worth the hassle I feel.  Apparently there is value, "I'm making a great engineer".

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