Tech Life You are a complex concept

An Introduction to You

Hello, New Person. It’s great to meet you. We’ve been waiting awhile for you to come here and now that you’re here, we’re pumped. It’s going to be so much better with you here because we’ve built up impossible expectations in our heads regarding what you can do. Don’t worry – we’re not going to tell you this because we’ve got this crazy unique culture where we want you to figure it out all on your lonesome.The journey’s the adventure, right?

You’ll make mistakes. That’s cool, you’re in the Bright and Shiny phase of our relationship where you can do no wrong. I mean it, you can’t be blamed for screwing up because you’re the New Person and you don’t know any better. It’s our fault, really, because we probably didn’t give you the right context or point you at the right wiki page. In fact, it’s cool that you made that mistake because failure is how you learn, and boy oh boy, you’re sure learning a lot.

. . .

Hello Not-So-New Person. Well, it’s been a month and, well, we’re really disappointed in you. We think we may have made a mistake.

You remember those expectations we had of you? The impossibly high ones that we never told you about, but mostly just felt? Yeah, they were way off. In fact, our opinions of your ability appear to be way off. You appear to be just a regular old disappointing human. Those mistakes you keep making? We don’t know if you’re not getting it or what. Most folks have figured it out by now. Figured what out, you ask? You know, the undefinable but very important ‘it’ that everyone else knows, but can’t explain it. You not getting ‘it’ is worrying us.

This is the Fall from Grace phase, Not-So-New Person. We’re disappointed, and the degree of our disappointment is proportionate to our previous impossible and unspoken expectations. We’re sad. We’re talking to others about your massive failure because we’re pretty sure we’re going to need to let you go, and talking to others whose unreasonable unspoken expectations were not being met either makes us feel better about the horrible mistake that is you.  

Don’t worry. We’re going to stick with our longstanding policy of not telling you this because you’ve still got a little Bright and Shiny, but mostly because we’re incapable of articulating our disappointment. We’re also a little worried that some of your hyperbolic and unmeasurable failure might rub off on us.

. . .

Hello Person. It’s been three months and you’re just fine. You’ve arrived at the final phase of Steady State.


We’re not sure what we were thinking just a few weeks ago when we were whispering about firing you. You’re solid. We’ve seen you fail and we’ve seen you succeed. We better understand where your superpower lies. We’ve stopped thinking of you as a tentative work in progress and now we’re just working.

We’re sorry.

We’re sorry because of everything we didn’t say in those first three months of highs and lows. In our enthusiasm, we forget that humans are slow to trust. We forget that we build respect by watching both successes and failures for weeks… for months.

We are in an incredible hurry building important things and have no time for nuance. We’re impatient. We’re busy. We want everything to move faster, so we make huge, comforting assumptions and slap easy to understand labels on complex concepts.

You are a complex concept. No matter how hard we try to bucket you, there you are, being something we’ve never seen before.

We’re sorry mostly because we always forget these aspects of human nature and each time a New Person, a New Team, or a New Idea arrives, we humans repeat this painful three-month cycle of highly energetic exaggerated expectations, a confusing fall from grace, and a final discovery of comfortable understanding of that which is uniquely you.

Thanks for staying.

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10 Responses

  1. helen 11 years ago

    interesting descriptions on different situations. it is clear a different conclusion may come from a different person. in Chinese culture, these situations can be guided with 用人不疑、疑人不用 because it is true that 不在其位、不谋其政。

  2. Anony Mouse 11 years ago

    This kind of article is so true that it ceased to be funny years ago. Kinda like Dilbert.

  3. Matthew Frederick 11 years ago

    I didn’t get the impression that it was supposed to be funny. Poignant, however, it’s got in spades.

  4. Tom West 11 years ago

    I’ve recently joined a new company, and it seems my annual review will be during the ‘fall from grace’ period…

  5. Great article, short, goes to the point.

  6. So true, Rands. So true.

  7. Dylan 11 years ago

    Nice. Couldn’t help but see the Gartner hype cycle in this.

  8. Erik Brown 11 years ago

    I really like the poetic style of this piece. It was unexpected. Well done, as always.

  9. R.I.P. Ron Johnson

  10. goutham 11 years ago

    you’ve joined discourse recently right? 🙂