One of my favorite TV series – that ran for a short 4 years on NBC – was The Pretender. Wikipedia describes the lead character – Jarod – as a genius impostor able to quickly master the complex skill sets necessary to impersonate a member of any profession. What intrigued me so much was his ability to take on any profession and do a decent job at it.he He faked it and made it. Over and over again
What was so intriguing about him? Honestly ….
I probably saw a little bit of myself in him.
While I was on the preordained Silicon Valley technology treadmill, going from company to company seeking title, compensation and respect, the parallel with “The pretender” (that I realize now) was that I was able to don the garb of each of the company I was employed with pretty successfully. The company’s mission, vision, strategy I assumed as my own! Why we have the fastest mobile infrastructure on the planet – #done, Let me tell you why software networking is the disruption you have been waiting for – #bringiton, Wake up Mr. Customer – your #1 source of risk is the Virtual Infrastructure Admin – #letmeteachyou ….
Every company I worked for. Rinse and repeat. Until I started noticing the dissonance I had was when I left a company, since I had to start faking it all over again. Learn the ropes (which I loved BTW) but then I had to become Mr. Pretender all over agin. Assume a new persona and solving a new #1 problem that only we could solve – and fake it enough to inspire myself and my team about the mission, vision and strategy.
Really, is this it?
Fortunately for me, the faking started taking its toll and the unrest led to action. I started writing with a vengeance, except this was my personal mission that I had uncovered – taking complex technical topics and making them relatable using everyday analogies. I knew I was getting somewhere with this based on the feedback I started getting. The icing on the cake was in my last job, after I had penned my first article within weeks of joining there, the VP of engineering who had been there for three years, told me this wife read my article and finally understood what he did for a living. A small step forward.
And then I entered a warp zone.
The unchartered path my professional journey took over the last two years was unprecedented and life-changing.
Fast forward to today. My mission is clear,
“Empathize, Educate, Empower”.
Along two dimensions. Helping people (tech people in particular) find their “why”. And second, “cybersecurity + privacy + ethics” awareness and education. There is no faking it any more. This is who I am when I engage with my teammates at @UberKnowledge. This is who I am when talking to customers. Am the same persona with my podcast guests. Writing, Videos, Speaking – it is all aligned with the same mission.
What happened during the two years that allowed me to jettison my fake personas? A lot. But I cannot talk about it here. Why? I am reaching the acceptable word-limit for an article (reader #empathy) :-). Based on the readers reactions – comments are always appreciated – I can dig deeper to chronicle the events that caused my reinvention. Or I can pretend this article never happened if there is no resonance with the readers – which I doubt!
I will leave you with this. Once you discover your mission, aligning who you work for and why you show up for work every day becomes blindingly clear. Life’s challenges will always be there – health, children, aging, finances and so on. Having an enduring life purpose allows you to discern that the fleeting adoption of your current employer’s mission as your own is necessary but transient therefore the #faking is just that. And maybe one day your life mission and your employee mission converge.