It’s no secret. Everybody knows. It’s public knowledge. No matter how much I try to dress myself down, though, there they are: I have longstanding credentials in the defense / intelligence sector, and I have held a security clearance in the past.
But it has been a long time coming—arguably since I started down that path—that I knew that that was not the right place for me. I stuck with it, though, and explored it from every possible angle—as a soldier in the Army, as a civilian government employee, as a commercial contract employee, and even as an independent contractor—and still I had the lingering feeling that this path was simply not for me. In exploring this space, I was an Arabic linguist, a mathematician, a computer scientist, software and systems engineers, a telecomms guy, as a worker and as a manager—and, again, I had the lingering feeling that this path was simply not for me.
And so, when the next round of nonsense occurred at the office and the next radical changes occurred at home, I declared that I was done. Period. I am going to find a better way.
Now, all of the time I spent trying to find a way to love what I was doing, but ultimately learning how much I disliked it and why I was doing it? That time just made me increasingly attractive to the people I don’t want to be in bed with anymore. And that sharpens my dislike. And that attracts more of these situations. And that sharpens my dislike. And that attracts more of these situations. And …
This is not to say that I am imagining the strong undertow that would pull me out to sea. In fact, just this past week I was persuasively invited up to an office suite to check out their etchings—which, naturally, turned out to be classified. How could it have been otherwise?! In my view, I’d been duped. I allowed myself to believe that I was being heard during the 40-minute phone interview a week earlier wherein I was very clear about my intentions. And there I found myself, in their space, hopeful… And then there it was: The Expected Proposition.
But even this, my description of the encounter, shows my state of aggravation bleeding through. In fact, what was offered was something more akin to this: “We heard you say you do not want to do classified work anymore. How about you hold a clearance, work closely with them in a classified advisor capacity, and direct mostly-unclassified technical work on their behalf?” I am sure they thought they were being helpful in some way while doing their best to sell me on the idea, but clouded with what they wanted to see they did not hear me clearly either.
How do you escape this pattern?
Expecting to see … obstacles? … you will see only obstacles and perhaps you will miss the opportunities. Staying clear and on course is a challenge, but you must know that that is where the solution will appear.
In the meantime:
Hey, Tech Companies with something to offer the Intelligence Community!!! Do you know what is more attractive and more profitable than providing cleared bodies? Selling them software tools that they can use!!! Do you know what they need? Do you know what would give your product an edge? Do you know how to get them in? Do you want to?
Hey, Any Company!!! I bet you’re stuck in a rut that you don’t even know you have. Do you really know how you are seen? Have you really considered your alternatives? How would you know if you did? It’s an interesting question, don’t you think? What do customers, providers, and employees really see when they interact with you? Do you know? Are you sure?
Do you see a guy who can help?
Or, do you see a previously-cleared body you think you could dust off and bill out.
Let me know.