Being the last day of 2008, I thought I would share my professional resolutions for 2009.  First, let me share with you what someone recently said to me during a discussion about leadership:

"Every person shines a light for others to see, and they choose whether that light is a beacon or a bugzapper."

He went on to explain that a beacon uses their experience, passion, and knowledge to to make people better.  A bugzapper uses their experience, passion, and knowledge to bring people down, to make themselves feel bigger by making others feel smaller. 

Now that we're talking the same language, my professional resolution for 2009 is to be a better beacon.  My goal is to be more successful at beaconage by trying some of the following things...

get out of my silo 

My team works fairly independently, along clearly delineated sandboxes defined my expertise.  I hate this - I'm not an expert in anything, so rather than feel useful I feel pigeon-holed, and my projects are usually so isolated that I end up working on them alone.  The work is stagnant, usually off-the-backlog, and I never feel like a "real" contributor.  So, I'm going to start finding ways to help out in other areas of the system, and spiking some projects ideas that touch areas outside of my sandbox. 

I'm not sure how I'll make this happen or how welcome my presence will be, but our team has become a skeleton crew steering a galleon, so I think I can make a few opportunities for myself ...

try more, do more, write more

I feel like I should accomplish more than I do, both professionally and personally.  I'm going to try some modest time management tactics and see how much more stuff I can get done.  E.g., I'm trying out maintaining my away-from-work projects and spike ideas using a backlog, and managing their execution with sprints in the hope that I don't pitter away my free time on endless and unnecessary polish.  

Moreover, I want to update this blog more frequently with details of these projects and spikes.  I love to write, and this blog my primary outlet for it.  

smile more, talk more

I know it sounds silly, but I'm starting to understand that to most people a 6-foot 2-inch 200+ pound barrel-chested dude with hair turning to dreds halfway down his back is scary-looking.  And I'm a thinker, so I tend to be pretty quiet unless I have questions.  The combination can come off ... unwelcoming.  So, I'm going to try to wear a smile and chime in more by default, and see what that gets me.  

cope with the bugzappers

This is, without a doubt, going to be the hardest part of my resolution.  There are (and always will be) people chomping at the bit to shit all over my efforts, and I tend to take that rather personal.  I never enjoy conflict, but I understand conflict is necessary to improve myself or others.  However, being brow-beaten, chided, degraded, or ignored frustrates me to no end and accomplishes nothing beyond making me want to kick the bugzapper in the sack.

That is my biggest obstacle at this point: coping with the bugzappers in a way that doesn't turn me into one of them.

Suggestions welcome.