Being an Activist

activistI think it’s only natural that when I take the time to read about “significant people,” I hope to learn something and/or glean some inspiration from them. By now, it is old news that the 2013 TIME Magazine Person of the Year was Pope Francis. Some of my favorite people are Jesuits (thanks for the great education guys), and Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air–but let’s face it: I’m never going to be Pope.

Perhaps I can learn something from the 1st runner up: Edward Snowden.   I grew up in the age of “what will the neighbors think”–a time defined by an illusion that privacy was a matter of avoiding direct observation. In contrast, I believe that exposure to digital observation is inescapable unless perhaps you belong to certain socio-religious groups. Mr. Snowden may deserve recognition for helping to raise awareness in the general population, but I’m never going to be hiding in exile, either. So, meh.

Which brings us to the 2nd runner up: Edith Windsor.  Who?  TIME designated her as “The Unlikely Activist”.  I almost didn’t read the article because the name meant nothing to me; it was totally off my radar. But, it is in this third piece that we see both the need for Pope Francis’s emphasis on the “healing and comforting of hurting people in an often harsh world”, and a specific example of how our digital footprints might lead to unjust judgment metered out by the aforementioned harsh world. Please do read TIME’s article; I can’t cover Ms. Windsor’s life story here, or do it justice.

By now, it must be clear that of the three candidates, it is Ms Windsor’s story that I believe has a life lesson for me to share.

Like Ms. Windsor, we all navigate as best as we can through our personal and professional lives, most often going along with the status quo. Generally, that is good enough. Occasionally, we recognize when something should change.  When something needs to change. Then we have the opportunity to be an agent, or even just a catalyst, to effect that change. If this were a blog post about resolutions, I’d resolve to go along with the status quo a little less often. I’ll never be Pope or an Exile, but I do from time to time recognize what needs to change.  I can be an activist!

Digital footprint aside, your private life is your own business, but our professional lives are full of opportunities to find the old status quos that have long outlasted their usefulness. At Spitfire, we believe a good project management system is the cornerstone of a new, sane, and efficient business order.  Maybe this year is the year to be an agent for change in the way things get done. Maybe you are dealing with stress from finding facts somewhere in disorganized details or wishing for proactive exception management, dealing with archaic practices created to satisfy some auditor 20 years ago, or whatever. Maybe it’s time to examine your project management practices and look for a better way of doing things.

See, you can be an activist, too!

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About Stan York

Stan York (VP of Development at Spitfire) has been developing software for decades. Which means he's old enough to remember when punched cards where the state of the art UI. Stan makes no secret about the fact he often prefers data to people, so it should come as no surprise that he is an expert in databases and SQL server. If asked, he might admit he is an MCP, because he knows this is important to some people, particularly at Microsoft. The postings on this site are his own and don’t necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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