whoami

[jiinjoo@home:~]% whoami
jiinjoo
[jiinjoo@home:~]% whoami
jiinjoo
[jiinjoo@home:~]% whoami
jiinjoo
[jiinjoo@home:~]% su whoami
root

There were days many years back when I will stare at an empty shell prompt and repetitively hit whoami <enter> whoami <enter> whoami <enter>, with the hope that someday, it will tell me, who I am.

After I get completely flustered that the machine behaves like one, instead of a caring human (if not a chat bot), I will stand up and shout “who am i….” to the Aether. It felt like a throw back to the identity crisis days of my youth.

Today I feel all 15 again. Too bad I’m currently on Win XP, which doesn’t have an implemented whoami (Vista onwards has it), so I had to turn to blogging.

whoami?

who am i?

Or perhaps I should have just dropped everything and go attend Google I/O, apparently there’s a Who Am I game being launched who might be able to shed some clues to this mystery.

Maybe it has to do with the sudden surge in “ambitions” by my bosses. With i.Luminate looming in November, possibly Accelerate in October, the race to complete the biggies and ignore the rest becomes more urgent, and with it, my sanity.

Which I don’t even care in the first place. Spending quality time to bring 1 customer on-board, convince 1 partner to collaborate, build 1 prototype, guide 1 team member, grow 1 product etc. builds a lot more of my identity, than boasting the sky and the universe does to me.

Job fit? Corporate terms made emotional issues vanish irrationally. No one is underperforming here. Across the cubicle partition, I hear the chants of “breakthrough”, another corporate word, which actually mean, “win, Win, WIN!” You have a breakthrough if you win in the rat race. And winning is something you need to do against others, and the bar is really high.

I’m sure it’s not competition. I ask myself: does it matter? Does it matter to me, my team, my department, my group, my company, my industry, my market, my vendors, my partners, my customers, and back to my life. This is over and above what I already ask every morning, i.e. does it matter to my family, my friends, my neighbors, my people, my society, and back to my life.

If it doesn’t matter, stop.

Then, get rid of it.

But of course, getting rid of something is hard because it’s all interlinked. You can only get rid of emails, tasks, KPIs, jobs, contacts, and other tangible things, when what you want to get rid of is unreasonable stress, passionless motions, meaningless goals, and the mundane city adult life in general.

It might really mean get rid of everything and start again.

whoami
whoami
whoami

I realize, sometimes, that the worst advise against this is another corporate jargon: “Focus!” When you focus, you stop thinking about whoami, and you dive deep to achieve that one thing that will make you something you’re not.

whoami
whoami
whoami

Another curious idea that I occasionally come across is “growth” – you should “grow” into your next position, your next job, earn your next promotion etc. On the surface it makes sense but more often than not the person who’s holding the position that you’re trying to grow into is trying make you look more like him or her, rather than just being yourself.

We pick our own role models in life. I think 90% of the time, that role model is not one of the upper echelon of your organization hierarchy. If it is, good for you. Instead, what we should be learning or growing into, is the ability to handle the job requirement of a larger job description (which in a fair world is commensurate with remuneration), whether it’s a bigger revenue target, product complexity, or project size.

whoami
whoami
whoami

I’m going to spend a few minutes to stare out the window. Maybe the falling leaves and the singing birds carry the vision of tomorrow and prophecy of my destiny.

Because I certainly can’t find it on subway walls and HDB void decks.

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