Let me back up for a minute. You’ve probably read “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. If not, it is a good and quick read regarding change. Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw are the characters in the author’s parable outlining change and how to deal with it.
But what happens when your cheese doesn’t just move, it disappears? Blown away? Well, I’m not sure I have all the answers, but let me tell you what I’ve learned so far.
Until recently, I had the honor and privilege to serve as the Human Resources leader at Rackspace. Had you talked to me a couple of months ago, I would have told you it was my dream job. Loved it. Loved my team. Loved making a difference for Rackers. Hoped to retire in the position some day in the distant future.
All that changed in November. My boss approached me and asked me to take on a new role. Co-Leader of our Hybrid Business Unit with my friend Jim Lewandowski. Nothing was wrong. We just needed to put some more bandwidth on our core business unit to drive a major change initiative. But I didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t ready for it. I guess you never are, but the HR guy was definitely caught off guard.
After a couple of months, and in retrospect, here is what I’ve learned:
- Be ready. Lead as if every day was your last one in the role. Think you’ve got 6 months to drive that major initiative or plan? What if you don’t? Make sure you have a sense of urgency at all times.
- Have your succession plan ready. I was working on mine. It wasn’t exactly ready and caught me off-guard. Make sure you have it ready. It is one of the primary responsibilities of a leader.
- Sometimes you get to do what you love. Sometimes you get to do what they need you to do. Sometimes you get to do what you want to do. Rarely do you get to do all three. For two years, I had all three. I should have savored it more.
- The new role is where I am needed. But after the initial shock, I’ve learned that it is also what I want to do. Never would have thought that a couple of months ago. But in hindsight, I missed the direct customer interaction and bond with our front line Rackers. I get to do both in the new role. Someone was telling me something.
- Which leads me to the final point. Love what you are doing. Find the elements you love and are passionate about. With that lens, I also love what I am doing now. Rackers, customers, ability to influence business results directly and make a difference? Check. All the things I love to do. Funny how it all works out.
I wasn’t looking for the change. I was perfectly happy. In hindsight though, I needed the change. Someone knew that. I just didn’t. Until now. And I am grateful for it. I’ve been blessed to work with great people at Rackspace. And I’ll miss my old team in HR. Should have savored it more at the time. I’ll do so fondly now. And I’ll embrace the new team and role. But this time I hope to savor it a little more along the way.
I’ve been around the block a few times now. And I’ve learned over the years that you may not know the reason that something happens at the time, but it usually reveals itself in hindsight. Perhaps more than anything else, that knowledge gives me comfort in times of change and creates a sense of calm. Having the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, the courage to change what you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Even when someone nukes your cheese .
Wayne Roberts currently serves as Senior Vice President and co-GM of the Hybrid Hosting Business Unit. Hybrid Hosting is Rackspace’s core business unit and serves customers who consume dedicated and/or cloud hosting products. The Hybrid Business Unit enjoys industry leading growth rates and sells and supports the full portfolio of Rackspace products.
Wayne is a Fightin’ Texas Aggie through and through, with a BBA in Business Analysis and Research and an MBA in Finance, both from Texas A&M. He has been married to his high school sweetheart for over 22 years and they have two children. Wayne enjoys spending quality time with his family, playing golf, supporting all things A&M, traveling and studying about 19th century history of the American West – from Lewis & Clark to the Wounded Knee Massacre. <Read More>Category: Rackers Tags: Career Change, Career Opportunities, Dealing with Change, New Opportunities, Transition, Who Blew Up My Cheese