Monday, August 25, 2008

Catching up with life and the future

It's been three months since the announcement that our corporate parent would move responsibility for our product back to the US, closing the facility here and releasing the 200 Dutch folks in our division. It's been a difficult period: coming to terms with the changes, finalizing the Social Plan, transferring the programs, closing the building. I've written occasionally in this blog about the process, but not much: it's easy to become sad or angry about events when writing alone. 'far better to work things through with colleagues and friends over coffee or beer.

But now, with everyone just about gone, it's a good time to reflect, here, on the future. And, as the outlines of that future have finally begun to crystallize, I feel like I have something concrete to share in these pages.

From a personal perspective, I'm happy with my life's ABC's. I know my Ambition: doing entrepreneurial work with a talented team, building a business around an innovative medical idea. Further, I know that I want to do it in Europe, the first time in my life that "place" is so prominent. Living among the Dutch has forced Balance: time for rediscovering travel, reading, writing, and sailing activities that I personally enjoy. I've continued to develop Connections, social and personal relationships that have opened and enriched my life. These matter to me more than ever.

I want to nurture all of these, and. while I'm not done growing(or weeding), I do have a pretty clear vision. And this experience has provided enough success and happiness to inspire belief in the future, and to drive the further journey.

Along the way, I've had to come to terms with things that I expected to be true, but, in fact, are not. There is no waiting stack of understaffed projects. There is little credit for what we built here. There is no talent management. In these circumstances, hope only leads to rationalization and procrastination. It crowds out the necessity of arriving at true explanations and clear decisions. I've found that some facts are easy to understand and to deal with: the limits of a visa or a housing contract. Others are not: trying to read meaning into an unreturned telephone call or a single-line e-mail. I hate to say that I've had to be ruthless with myself, but I've definitely had to confront hard truths.

The most difficult personal consequence is to keep confidence no matter the uncertainty, and to be willing to press forward to a resolution, right or left as the Dutch say, rather than to float along and wait.

Honestly, this round, I couldn't get it all. My father has written to counsel that I shouldn't settle for too little. I've thought this through, though, and I think that I have enough for the next few months, and that these months give me the time that I need to finish the process. At least, it provides enough time for everyone to come back from vacations...

I'll stay in the Netherlands for the next nine months, under my current expat agreement, in an independent, transitional role in our division. The job will be a mixture of market analysis, clinical research management, and economic modeling for a US-based project team, supporting their European studies and thought leaders. Although based in Maastricht, I'll be free to live where I want within the Dutch borders.

During that time, I'll sort out the next job. My mentors counsel trust and patience, waiting to see what the new fiscal year brings. Fair enough. But there are also tangential alternatives at hand. These show every sign of spinning spin into great opportunities with a bit of care and feeding. I'll give them that attention.

Additionally, I want to credit the progress that both of my children have made in the past year. Last fall, we were struggling with 'failure to launch': my daughter veering towards a dead-end trade, my son in a part-time job. Last week, he graduated from basic training and she went off to university: significant progress towards establishing successful, independent lives. Wow.

Good things are happening.


Textual Healer said...

Dave - it sounds like you need a reference group too (see my last blog). I think your dad is right - don't settle for too little. Nine months quickly flies by. Maybe we should do a beer befoe you move to Maastricht

Anonymous said...

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I hope you stop by again :)

Dave Hampton said...

TH, thanks for the comment. I had read your "Comfortably Numb" post the day before I wrote mine, and your "lost summer" feelings did resonate. I don't see the bit about a reference group, though? I will, happily, buy you a beer some time and we can share some stories.

I called my father this evening and had a long talk to understand his misgivings. He feels that if I've made the decision to move on, I shouldn't hang on: negotiate a good severance and get on with life. I don't feel like its that simple: there's no job to step into tomorrow and the 90-day visa clock starts ticking when I leave. I think it's better to choose the moment. Time and diligence should make this period okay.

No plans on when or where to move yet, so I'm open to suggestions.
But I will be in Arnhem through October, at least.

Dave Hampton said...

CC: I'm a regular reader of your site and enjoy your thoughts lots: thanks for the comments and welcome, too!