Success is just managing expectations

I realize for that for many people out in the great big world, life is becoming hectic and the weather is somewhat less than ideal. Yes, it’s too frigid for this part of the country for December 8th. It should be only cold enough at this point that one gets a little daily reminder that the end of the month will bring a visit from Kris Kringle and the annual New Year’s hangover. Also, yes, I understand that there’s a day circled on the calendar just slightly over two weeks from now that is likely bringing cold sweats to many as they compare their “gifts needed” list to their “gifts acquired” list.

But today, none of that mattered, at least to me.

Today, I had a Good Day. In fact, it was a Very Good Day. As I suggested last night (in limerick form), I had a very important work project that absolutely had to be functioning correctly by 1 pm this afternoon. The deadline in question was not arbitrary. My company has customers, and occasionally our customers like to drop in and check out what’s going on with all dey bidness. Today was such a day, and we had a brand new contraption needing to be shown off, with all the pomp and circumstance that an integrated contraption demo entails.

Ok, so it wasn’t like the grand opening of a new mall or anything. There was no parade, no cocktails, no hor d’oeuvres or clowns making wiener dogs from balloons. Still, it was a big thing. And as it turned out, Things Went Well. My bosses were happy, (that would be my Day-to-Day Boss plus my Boss of Grand-Schemes), the customers were happy, most of the members of upper management on hand (including the company president) were happy, and all of my adjunct bosses were pleased as well.

What’s an adjunct boss, you ask? Put simply, an adjunct boss is one of those management types that’s not in charge of you, but is technically higher than you somewhere in the company food-chain and is in charge of something for which you’re at least partially responsible. They have no direct authority over you, but if you screw the pooch and they end up holding a stinking bag of dog vomit as a result, well, trust me, they’ll make your life plenty miserable in the end.

Don’t believe me? Do some scientific experimentation on such a project and let me know how it turns out. The truth is that nobody can kill a promotion or mysteriously hijack a raise quite like an adjunct boss. So, follow my advice and try to keep them happy.

Luckily, I’m known for doing exactly that. Well, for meeting goals on time, at least. When it comes to the high pressure deadline, I am Da Man.

Now, I know half of you just rolled your eyes and made a tsking sound, the other half is currently looking at your feet, and all of you are wondering who’s going to break the awkward silence by saying, “um, puddin, your, um, hubris is showing there” while offering a vague wave in my direction. But everyone can relax; I’m really not all that arrogant. Success is simply the result of a judicious application of the Montgomery Scott Method of Project Estimation.

In other words, sand-bagging is a completely reasonable method of achieving your goals.

While I will readily admit that I don’t *actually* multiply my project estimates by a factor of four, my typical first response to a project is to suggest that it’s completely impossible.

“No, I can’t do that by next Wednesday. The sun would have to go supernova first.”

I’ll then hem-and-haw for a few hours before making the begrudging admission that the request in question is not completely impossible.

After that, I often complete said task by the end of the day, thereby securing my reputation as a miracle worker (and there was much rejoicing).

It’s a pretty good system.

Unfortunately, anyone responsible for coming up with stuff for me to do is by now well aware of my shenanigans (which is why I’m being cavalier enough to detail it here). The jig, then, is effectively up. And honestly, now that I’ve dug my own hole by manufacturing a history of making the impossible kinda possible, I guess I’m playing a game of chicken with every new project.

Sooner or later, something is going to knock my professional cockiness right off my shoulders, and into the pool.

But that day isn’t today. Today, I got the proverbial pat on the back and a celebratory pint of IPA.

You can keep your gold star, that’s all the positive reinforcement I need.