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A friend of mine and I went out to one of my favourite pubs a few nights ago to talk about his career. He’s considering making a move from his current employer to be able to pursue other interests, but wasn’t sure if he should. You see, his current job is with a very well-respected company and his position looks incredible on paper. The problem is that he’s just not challenged. In short, he doesn’t love what he’s doing, and I think this is a problem for him. Why you need to love what you do So why should this be...read more
[Note from Pat: This is a guest post from my friend Christian Knutson. Chris is an expert in both engineering and leadership, with decades of experience in the military and as an entrepreneur. He's the author of www.engineerleader.com, an excellent read for anyone who reads this blog.] Enter Christian: Whether you like it or not, every thing in your life is changing. The projects you’re working are changing – perhaps progressing or falling behind. Your feelings about the work you’re engaged in changes, sometimes daily. Your mind, body… OK…...read more
A colleague of mine, Christian Knutson, of the excellent and highly recommended The Engineer Leader blog, recently sent me an article by Leo Babauta. The title is “Achieving without goals“. Leo, who’s the master of all things Zen and living life simply, argues that you should live without goals. I think this is ridiculous. Let me explain why. A life without goals Yeah – that’s right. He says we shouldn’t have goals. Basically, Babauta is saying that goals tend to get in the way of living life in a way that...read more
I’m a firm believer that you need to have fun at work. The way I see it, you spend more waking hours at the office and with your co-workers than you do with you do with your own family. If the majority of your life is spent not having fun… well, life would suck. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should goof off all day. You need to work when you’re at work. That being said, work doesn’t have to be drudgery. As frustrating as some people and some situations might be, you have the ability to chose...read more
This is something that we’ve discussed quite a bit at work recently – the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks. I think that most people can intuitively tell you what the difference is between the two if you’re discussing it over a cup of coffee. Important stuff needs to happen. Urgent stuff needs to happen now, whether its important or not. In order to be an effective engineer, you need to spend as much of your time as possible on what’s important, right? That should almost go without saying. The...read more
Back in Part I of this post, I talked about the goal of an engineer, and how to be truly productive. If your actions aren’t bringing you closer to your goal, then you’re not really being productive. Sure you might be getting things done, but you’re not going anywhere. You’re treading water – working hard to stay in the same place. In part II of this post, I want to give you some rock solid strategies that you can use today to make sure you’re being productive every day. Strategy 1 – Keep your goals in...read more
Sometimes, you need to work over-time. Be it a proposal that needs to be in before the deadline, or a scramble to get a presentation together for your boss, it’s inevitable that you’ll be putting some time in after 5PM (and possibly before 8AM, too). It’s a fact of life as a professional. What’s even more brutal is that you can’t typically say no. That’s OK though, because it it can be a big opportunity to strut your stuff and shine under pressure. That’s the kind of thing that can definitely turn...read more
I‘m writing this post mid-flight on a trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Fredericton, New Brunswick. It just occurred to me that the ability to do this is phenomenal. Isn’t it? I mean, when I was a kid, I remember getting our first Internet connection! Now I can dig out my iPad and type up a post from anywhere in the world. Engineers around the world have helped to create the reality we now have. By and large, that reality is a beautiful one. So, to go along with my happy, pensive mood, here are my top five reasons engineering is a...read more
Note from Pat: Today’s post is part of a collaboration I’m doing with the kind folks at Rogers (www.RogersCorp.com) to celebrate National Engineers Week. Rogers is a world leader in high-tech innovative materials. You’ll note below that the post they’ve written has a number of questions on how to overcome technical leadership challenges. If you head on over to the Rogers blog (blog.rogerscorp.com) I’ve answered all these questions in a follow-up post. I hope you enjoy the post, and that you have a fantastic...read more
As you may already know, I started studying for my MBA this semester. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of fun. I’m having a blast and learning a lot. One of the classes I’m taking now is in Operations and Supply Chain Management. Part of the required reading for that class is a book called The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, from Eli Goldratt. In this book, Goldratt argues that the ultimate goal of a company is to make money. It’s not to improve efficiency, increase market share, or reduce lead time –...read more