Late-Night Power Walks

When it's almost midnight and I'm putting on my shoes, something is clearly wrong. This was certainly the case today when, in a burst of rage, I left an online meeting, changed from my pyjamas to my regular clothes, put on shoes and a jacket, then went out into the 1˚C weather for a bit of a walk. The rage and frustration I feel is not at all productive, but it does let me know that there is clearly something fundamentally wrong with how I'm looking at something, as it does not seem anyone else has anywhere near as much anger about the direction and status of various projects. If I am the only person with a problem, the problem is undoubtedly me.

The late-night walks do help, though. Generally this is treated as an excuse to indulge in an alcoholic beverage alongside some sort of pastry. Tonight it was a 500mL can of Kirin's new 9% Cherry-flavoured vodka and a hotdog that was more bread and mustard than meat. These were brought to the hill where I usually like to sit during the afternoon and consumed almost immediately. The goal isn't to get drunk, but to interfere with the brain just enough to force a calm down. Physical exercise alone can only go so far. Physical exercise with a bit of strong vodka is a match made in heaven … as unhealthy as it may sound.

In the afternoons, my walks generally involve listening to a podcast or two. At night, however, the headset stays off so that I can pay a little more attention to the surroundings. One never knows when there might be a car going by without its headlights or a malevolent person with a knife just looking for a warm body. Being left without the audio distraction means whatever frustrations prompted the walk get the bulk of my attention. For most of the trip this is what was going through my head:

Heads will roll for this farce of a system, and mine will likely be the first.

How is it that when a bunch of smart people come together to solve a complex problem, the end result is often embarrassing to each and every person on the team? I know that — individually — we're all smart enough to see the faults in the tools being built. Yet together we're all heading towards a solution that doesn't deserve to use such an adjective … and it's too late to do anything about it.

There is a lot that I can learn from my colleagues, but what I need most is to learn how to take work far less seriously. The barely-restrained ire is not doing anybody any good.