Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This is not what success sounds like

In 2006 I was contracting as a programme manager for the BT Wireless Cities project (Metro-WiFi in 12 UK cities). The work started early in the year and progressed into the early summer.

I now noticed a curious exodus. The group of elderly ex-BT contractors confided it was time to terminate their contracts and migrate to sunnier climes in Spain.

They only did contract work for 'pin money' to augment their generous BT pensions.

I was aghast: "The project is just now ramping up to the most interesting phase. We've done the hard work of network planning and we now need to sell the coverage maps and business cases to the city councils!"

They were unmoved. They were literally just in it for the money.


In 2008 I was working in Dubai on the Dubai World Central programme. My team's task was to come up with the entire city telecoms network design and prepare RFQs for the vendors (Ericsson, Alcatel, Cisco, Huawei, etc). The work was extremely arduous but also fascinating.

My father, who had been retired almost two decades, tried to persuade me to retire: "You don't need to work," he said.

I knew he had never been happier than the day he had retired from his ghastly teaching job. But I couldn't parse his suggestion: doing high-level consultancy was what I did, it was my identity.


When I read this headline:
Andy Murray: Wimbledon champion 'may only have couple of years left at top'
I thought at once: Murray is finished.

No professional ever contemplates career mortality when they are in the zone and hungry.

And so this afternoon it came to pass.
"Defending champion Andy Murray was knocked out of the Aegon Championships in the first round by world number 90 Jordan Thompson"

Sometimes the pram in the hall should be heeded. There is life beyond elite tennis.

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