Playing the long game

Taking a long-term view of things seems to be the common thread linking what’s on my mind this week.

The long con

Actually, we’re already two-thirds of the way through the fifth season of Hustle – the BBC’s take on Ocean’s Eleven – but I’ve only got round to starting it this week. Our favourite team of long con grifters has lost one leader and regained its original one, shed two team members and gained two others. (Of the original main cast of five, only two – the Roberts, Vaughn and Glenister – have appeared in all five seasons.) Such a dramatic turnover usually sounds the death knell for a series, but Hustle has come back, if anything, reinvigorated and stronger than ever, with fresh character dynamics and a sustained high level of plot chicanery and visual style.

A big part of the fun of Hustle is allowing yourself to be swept up in the gang’s latest caper and racing along to try and find the sting in the tail before the big reveal at episode’s end. But above all, it’s just great fun; the show never takes itself too seriously, which in itself is refreshing.

The long road to Paris

The Tour Down Under finished last weekend, and a certain Lance Armstrong finished a decent 29th out of 122 finishers after an absence from competitive racing of more than three years. Since he announced his return last September, Armstrong has been talking up his campaign to raise money for cancer research and talking down his prospects of winning an eighth Tour de France in July, but you just know the fire still burns inside him.

One thing’s for sure: we probably will not really know what his chances are until the middle week of the Tour, because the next six months of racing are nothing more than an extended training programme aimed to build his fitness to a peak in July. The odds are against him, certainly, but only a fool would completely discount the chances of a man who has come back from cancer to dominate his sport.

No matter what, it’s going to be one hell of a story, and one that I will be following with great interest, both in the media and via Armstrong’s own Twitter profile.

Career crossroads

In a world of redundancies, budget cuts and pay freezes, I should probably be thankful to still have a relatively secure job. But the reality is that I need something to change in 2009, or I will have to make the change myself.

In the style of Pushing Daisies (back on ITV1 tonight), the facts are these: three years, seven months and 17 days ago, I started working as a strategic planner for 3M UK. Today, I am effectively still doing the same job in the same company. This is only the second time in my career I have spent more than three years with the same business – indeed, some time around the end of May, 3M will become my longest-serving employer – and it is the also the only time I have been in the same job for more than 24 months.

In short, I need a change. It’s something I’ve been agitating for with gradually increasing volume for over a year now, but nothing has happened yet (although, to be fair, my boss is having the right conversations with the right people). But the reality is that if I don’t start seeing some definite prospects in the next few months – in my head, June 13th, my four-year anniversary at 3M, is the absolute drop-dead date – then it will be time for me to start looking elsewhere, because I know that if I don’t change I will get bored, and if I get bored my productivity will fall off a cliff. I’ve done the leadership courses, and I know I’m identified as a ‘high potential’ candidate within 3M. But promises are nothing without reality: I feel like I’m standing still, and although I have absolutely no desire to be an MD, I also don’t want to keep pacing round in the same circles forever. In theory, I still have two-thirds of my working life ahead of me before I retire – it’s a long old game. I need something to look forward to.