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“Everything counts in large amounts”
I started working at a software company in January 2008. In my first six months, I became proficient at the technical writing job that I was hired to do. After a year or so, I got to the point where I was able to come in to the office, put my headphones on, and plug away at updating software documentation for hours. The job didn’t pay that well, but it was easy and the company was much better than my previous one.
An older colleague casually mentioned that he could see himself retiring at this company in a similar job. That got me thinking about what the future held for me. I thought about Pink Floyd’s “Time” — “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” I’m not English, but I felt the lyric applied to my situation. I had a choice to make — become content hanging on in the technical writing role, or try and grow.
During the same period, I found myself starting to serve as a part time Scrum Master for a team. Think of a Scrum Master as a coach for a team that creates software. I enjoyed it, but felt tethered to the technical writing job.
I remember falling behind in my technical writing work in the run up to a release. I remember my boss calling me into a meeting room and doing her best to understand how I was spending my time. I remember talking about the Scrum Master stuff I was doing and ensured her that I’d complete the technical writing tasks in time for the release. I left the conversation knowing that an inflection point was coming soon.
I completed my technical writing tasks in time for the release. I remember a few rainy Saturday mornings spent in the offie in order to get it done. But I got it done. Soon after the release, a technical writer team lead position opened up. I applied for it. I remember thinking I was eminently qualified. I also remember spending time during the interview process talking about my Scrum Master work. In hindsight, it was clear what I wanted to do. I just didn’t have the opportunity to do it. Yet.
I didn’t get the team lead gig. I remember walking back to my desk after hearing the news and immediately logging into the company’s internal job site to see where else I might transition to. I saw nothing. At some point in the following days, I talked to the other Scrum Masters in the company to see if there was a position available. There was.
After a month or so, my transition to a full time Scrum Master role was complete. In hindsight, it happened quickly. In the moment, the time it took was agonizingly slow and uncertain.
Small changes add up in big ways. Most of life is the result of small changes. Whether it’s your financial stability, exercise routine, diet, or career growth. Few things happen overnight. Big changes are so often a culmination of little ones. They’re additive. And they rarely happen as a “big bang.” Small changes today mean big changes in the future.
Depeche Mode — “Everything Counts”
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