The embodiment of man.
How do you define this? We live in a current world of turmoil, where politics and societal unrest are driving wedges between all of us, and it drives me nuts. Unfortunately, we get caught up in the talking points and miss the opportunities to have real, down to earth discussions and conversations that don’t result us losing friendships, family and more.
So what does this have to do with Revit, or BIM, or PIM, or even technology?
Tony and Mike.
I lost my uncle Tony a few weeks ago, to a sudden illness that ended with sepsis, which his heart could not handle. My dad Carl and Tony were extremely close, which helped all of the rest of my cousins be close with us. We had great childhood experiences growing up, and when we got together, the “Butts Bunch” always had a great time.
We had the family all assemble at the farm, and all of the points of diversity were represented. We have so many different characters and personalities, beliefs, lifestyles that we represent what America really is, a melting pot that is what makes us all family. With Tony and my aunt Marlene, it didn’t matter if it was blood or not – we’ve adopted, adapted and accepted in so many ways that the sum of all of our parts is what makes us a great example of the American experience. It was his rule and his belief that made this all happen, all bound by a huge dinner table laden with biscuits, molasses, and real butter.
And Tony led and loved us all, with no exceptions. He and I were opposites on the political aisle but not polar. We had compromise and worked on what we both believed, argued without attack on what we didn’t, and still ended the day with a hug and good night. He served as a county commissioner, library advocate and community pillar at church. His willingness to help those less fortunate was built on family traditions that valued hard work but used the earnings to support and help others. Countless people stayed at their farm, from power company workers to Wounded Warriors up for a hunt. He loved children that may not have been blood but were his family in no unspoken terms.
The embodiment of man.
Tony served in the US Air Force and was an electrical engineer by trade. Early on, when I started doing CAD work, we talked about design and drafting tools and techniques. In later years, while I was still working for the Autodesk reseller, I would stay at the farm and make the drive to Nashville over staying in a closer hotel. Their home gave me peace and solace during a time where I was struggling with my career and helped me make the decision to move on.
I would show him the technology and tools I was using and talk about driving change and teaching others to overcome their fears and objections. He had plenty of “back in my day” stories that helped me understand where we had come from to where we are today.
As the weekend was drawing to close, Marlene asked us to go through the house and find something we wanted to take home, to take a part of Tony with us. I wandered through the house and went upstairs to his desk. On the back of the desk, I found rolled up blueprints – hand-drawn plans of houses, my grandfather’s “Popwalk” walker that they had both worked on designing before his passing several years before. As I browsed through the pages, it reminded me of how far we had come – and rolled them back up, making sure to leave them in the same place.
The embodiment of man.
I realized that taking this part of the past was not what I needed, but instead settled on a walking stick of his that was left by others. It was a tool that could always be used regardless of where we are in life. It provides support when you need it, and steadiness when turbulence surrounds you. The plans of the past are fulfilled by the man who provides his family the stability and guidance we need. The man who will stick to his ideals, beliefs, and faith, and passes them on to his own children and family.
In my role, I struggle to evoke change. We have some many older users that are happy with the way things are, even as the tools have evolved to create better and simpler designs with more efficiency and accuracy. We also have a new generation that has missed out on the knowledge learned of the past and make so many mistakes when the mentor role is ignored. Coming from a generation where we gave them everything and did not push the overall learning needed, we reap the consequences of permitting today’s distractions from the education needed to move past the plans of the past. I see this in users that struggle even with the basics of managing files on a computer…but even my uncle in his advanced years of retirement never stopped learning.
And yet I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t adapted the patience he had with such a diverse family. The quiet (ok, sometimes loud) direction of lessons learned and what should be done. I’m working on it – trying to be more patient with my colleagues and not belittle, berate or deride. The softest voices in these times can be the loudest, so do your work behind the scenes without drama or self- promotion. Those are the lessons that I’ve learned from him in his passing, that I hope will make me a better teacher and mentor myself.
I loved my uncle dearly and miss him already, as do so many in our family.
Mike – and Wes…
Wes came into our life as a whirlwind, coming for a day trip and staying for a lifetime. He was a ball of energy, pumping out crazy ideas miles out in the ocean, from underwater GoPro videos to bait suggestions that never made sense and caught all the fish. Spent many days on the water and in the woods with him, hunting, fishing and having fun.
The life was sapped out of me in a New Jersey parking lot a day many years ago, hearing we had lost him. A new born baby and awesome wife that were as much a part of our family as our own sons. The impact of his loss still resonates with all of us. And yet my pity lay not with Wes but with his father, a man of deep faith and love. Yet Mike soldiers on and still leads his family where others would fail. Having to deal with a change this dramatic makes me feel foolish sometimes when I get upset with a colleague, my kids and my friends. I can’t imagine the loss he still feels.
And while I watch, Mike has moved back home, to his family homeplace, and is tackling the changes that need to be made. Remodeling, cleaning, repairing and doing what needs to be done. He had to have a little surgery done recently but was out in the yard cutting grass way before he should have been.
I see in both Mike and Wes characteristics I believe we all wish we had, and should live up to. From the willingness to challenge himself, throw away fear and do it because…well, to Wes, because it was fun. Because one misstep in life is not the end of the world but a challenge to move on to the next one. And a willingness in Mike to have the faith in things that never seem fair, but happen because it’s a part of life. We all deal with change in different ways, but sometime miss these life lessons and fail to learn from them.
The embodiment of man.
Why write about these men that make up a big part of my life? Because from perspective, a willingness to step back, observe and learn, we all gain so much. We realize the value that changes in life bring to us. As a technologist, when I hear people whine and complain about change…it’s too hard…not unless I’m getting paid for it…I’m not interested….and my favorite, I’ve always done it this way.
All of these men have helped me keep what happens in my career in perspective. That passing love and care not just to family but those you work with, who make up such as huge part of your life, is every bit as critical to your success.
I’m currently sitting in the Philadelphia airport after a great few days with my engineering technology team, working on our strategic action plan, values and vision. I’m being challenged to back away from something I’ve invested much in, and take a new perspective. And I think of my role in service leadership, and the importance of being will to stop, listen and gain the perspective of others. What we deal with in our careers is never going to be a constant – change, evolution and advancement are inevitable. At some point, something you love to do will be left behind. The question to ask yourselves, is do you have the “wherewithall” and character to adapt and evolve yourself?
All of these things I believe are what I should strive to be in the embodiment of man. To love. To care. To push and drive when others don’t. To strive for the best you can be. To take the risk, be vulnerable and be proud. To admit the mistake and work to improve. To be excited…that’s what’s really important. It’s not what you’re sold today in the misleading media outlets but all of the things you do, when facing the man in the mirror.
My next challenge was to begin preparing myself for that next stage – for retirement, for health, and for whatever life holds for me. We talked about working towards building my replacement, not because I’m one foot out the door but understanding that in preparation comes well formed plans, goals and objectives. I find myself jealous of what the future holds for my friends at work, and the tools, workflows and environment they stand to inherit. I hope what we’ve learned in my generation helps propel them to enjoying what we do, as much as I have.
So…are you ready for the next generation of work? Or are you still stuck in your own rut? The choice is entirely up to you. Be the embodiment of yourself, and the best of yourself – you won’t regret it.