Focus on What You Can Control

It bears repeating: only focus on the things within your control.  Keep an inner scorecard, and don’t let external events sway you.

  • You can’t control the weather, but you can take an umbrella, buy rain boots, wear warm waterproof clothing, or even take a car.
  • You can’t control other teams, but you can keep asking questions and making sure information is shared, expectations are set, give feedback for next time, grease the wheels as much as you can.
  • You can’t control what other people decide to do, but you can influence them by telling them what you want, why it’s the best course of action, why they should help, why they should care.
  • You can control what you work on.  Go find things that YOU care about and do those, fill your time up so full with these things that you don’t have bandwidth for the nonsense other stuff.
  • You can control who you work with.  Go find the people you love to work with and make beautiful useful things with them.  Go play with them and fill your roster up with so many things that there is no room for the complainypants and information silos and hot/cold cats and all talk no action windbags.  And if you can’t find the good people here, just leave.
  • You can control where you work.  If the office is too full of distractions, if your neighbors are loud, if everyone wants a piece of your day, go somewhere else.  Go work in the cozy hidden nook with plenty of sunshine and stuffed animals.  Go find the quiet spots where other people want to do heads down no talking work.  Go into hermit mode and turn off email, phone, IM, everything.  Say no.

At the end of the day, a lot of things are within your control.  You have flexibility to make your environment enjoyable and productive.  You have skills, glowing reviews, vacation days, and a financial cushion.  You have optionality.  If you want to leave, it’s pretty easy to do so.  Just be sure that you’re not going to repeat old mistakes if you leave.

If you stay or if you leave, make a reasoned conscious decision.  If you stay, what are the factors here worth staying for that other teams and companies don’t have?  If you go, what are the factors on the new team, at the new company, that would be different from what they are now?  New is not always better by default.  On the other hand, if you already know something is not working, you shouldn’t bother to keep doing it.  Drop it and pivot to try something else.

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