Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ship Without A Rudder

Now I'm having a big problem with my present day career
My ship, she has a rudder, but I don't know where to steer.
- From Jimmy Buffett’s “Simply Complicated”

This past week has been pretty interesting. I’ve been sick with a virus all week, bed-ridden and counting the pock marks in the bedroom ceiling. Could be the drugs, but I’ve been doing some intense self-analysis about my career.

I’ve had the phrase “manage your own career” (ran across the idea some time ago on the highly-recommended Talented Apps blog) bouncing around in my head lately. When the economy gets bumpy, I always feel better about my own situation if I’m in a situation that allows for a little more independence. I always have more faith in a good outcome when I feel as though I’m depending more on my own abilities than those of somebody else. Consulting, contracting, free-lancing, employment in a meritocracy type of company; those things make me feel like I can steer my ship through the storm. Unfortunately, that’s not the situation I’m in at the moment. I’m in a good situation, but it does not seem like the meritocracy I enjoy most. I may have gotten a little lax about managing my own career.

Coupled with the idea that I’m happier and more secure in a meritocracy, I’ve also been looking at a fork in the road in regards to my own skill set. I really enjoy project management. I relish in leading a small project team facing a tight deadline…not so keen on long projects or big teams. But I also like working hands-on with Oracle technology: be it writing SQL queries, building a quick app in APEX, working with OBIEE, building a business process with BPEL or trouble-shooting issues in the E-Business Suite (my personal favorite!), I’m not really happy with my day unless I can get in some hands-on work. I like the hands-on stuff so much, I’m actually thinking about attempting to develop a DBA skill set. But then there is that fork in the road: the more project management work I do, the less I get to do the hands-on stuff…and vice versa. I’m at the point where I need to make a choice between doing the project work and managing the project work. I have to figure out which path to take.

So between the “manage your own career” thoughts and my "fork in the road" paradox, I’ve been having thoughts lately about whether I’m currently the captain of this figurative ship I’m on or just a passenger. And if I have become more of a passenger than a pilot, I’m not quite sure how to take back the rudder or where to steer when I do get it back…

So am I the only one who is a little confused about their career direction? Or am I the only one who doesn't know where to go next? Find the comments and tell us your story.


Mohan Dutt said...

With years of experience, your internal/external customers expect you to be the captain of your own ship - whether the ship is a small project or a big roll out. It thus becomes second nature to become a good project manager. However, there are dozens like us whose day is not complete without 'hands-on stuff'. Project management hardly leaves time for that. However, when issues are escalated or the deadlines are challenging, one should roll up their sleeves and get involved. Also, your perspective is better from the high position and you are expected to see the 'bigger picture'. It is your experience to identify risks and mitigate them and ensure project success. That itself is a big task and someone has to do it. Fortunately, you do it very well! So you are the right person at the right time at the right place!
There will always be many forks to available but few sharp knives to cut through.

Anonymous said...

Floyd, thanks so much for the shout out for TalentedApps, sorry you have been sick.

I have to say that I think you are on the right track to figuring out your next career focus. You are first doing real soul searching which will help you decide your career priorities.

Next, I think you will want to set some goals. It is not just about getting a new job or a new role, it is crafting that new job or role to be aligned with your passions. I find [written] goals to be the bridge between where I am now and where I want to go. Somehow, the act of writing the goal down makes me feel I'm taking control to make it happen.

I look forward to hearing of your progress. Remember it's a journey and not a destination.

- Meg

Anonymous said...


Rest assured you are not alone! =) I've been having this same debate with myself for nearly a year, while my ship drifts lazily here and there, with no clear direction. But I'm making a change this year - a big change. I've stepped back up to the rudder of my ship and taken charge. I'm still working out the details - the when, the where and the how - but I have taken responsibility for making the choices that will move me in this new direction, rather than simply waiting for a nice breeze to send me on my way. It's exciting and scary at the same time, but it feels really good to have my hands back on the wheel of my ship. Wishing you good fortune and fair weather as you chart your own path.



Anonymous said...


I thought Mohan said it best that there are a lot of forks in the road especially for the very talented folks but a few sharp knives can cut through to the right path. You will be great in whatever you do.