Tiny silence: the emotional collision at the end of a project

Tomorrow, Monday, a member of my team twelve hours flight due south will experience the multiple pile-up of emotions resulting from being the centrepiece of the completion of a new workplace project, the culmination of a year of intense activity.

In an industry managing physical realities and touching the working lives of significant numbers of the organisation’s employees, it is a rare and lonely experience. While the consultant team are rolling up their final accounts like sleeping bags, you, the internal project lead, prepare to begin a new journey in the completed space. But just at that moment, as you step through the door on the first day, there is a tiny moment like that just before impact, where the world stops and is perfectly silent.

So what are those emotions? You can’t put them in an order, they arrive from multiple directions. There are probably more, but here are some:

  • Excitement – believeing that this is the moment of truth, and judgment
  • Fear – actually knowing that this is the moment of judgment, but very rarely truth – and dreading negativity, disapproval, triviality, but most decimating of all, ambivalence
  • Relief – that the conveyor belt you have been unable to step from has juddered to a halt at long last
  • Pride – in the team you shared so much with, in the effort of the people you trusted, pushed, cajoled, and scooped up for one more big push, because somebody had to
  • Disappointment – for all the things that might have been done differently if only everyone had not resisted, and for the things that were not done differently because you were unable to resist on your own
  • Vulnerability – for the things that could not be controlled, the realities resulting from the assemblage of tiny slices of force majeure, stubbornness and bloody mindedness
  • Envy – because beautiful as it is before you, you can still see the pristine, staged, airbrushed and deserted images from a workplace magazine that somehow, in your moment of perfect exhaustion, seem all the more spangled than yours

Yet in that moment of silence, as with all your last shreds of energy you stop yourself from spinning around and walking away without a glance behind, you allow yourself the most valuable single reflection that will spur you on to the next: “I did it”.


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