Sunday, October 2, 2016
When I was a child, nothing made me happier than the thought of back to school shopping each fall. Far more than the new pair of Nike Cortez kicks and dark blue Levi's, I absolutely loved the pristine notebooks and pencils I was fortunate enough to fill my backpack with. For me, the start of a new school represented a fresh start.
I entered 2016 with a similar approach; new year, new lessons to learn. I split up the year by months, and have attempted to learn something new during each. Some months it's been a new skill, and more often than not, it's been about learning new perspective. Not going to lie; those months where I don't have a measurable result because I've tried a new way to think about a problem are largely unsatisfying. Technically, I know I have challenged myself in a new way, but without a way to quantify success, it can be pretty frustrating. September was one of those months.
I made the decision to stay in my current job at the beginning of this year. It was a tough one to make in some ways; I know myself well enough to appreciate when it is time to walk away. I am a builder; I love creating something from scratch. And yet, I have stayed for the people. I work with an exceptional CEO. I partner with an incredible talented team of nice people. And I get to be create on some pretty interesting, disruptive stuff. As jobs go, I am more than fortunate.
And yet, I needed more. To stay in that role for another year or two, I needed to find a different way to approach it and keep it fresh. I created time - typically in the early hours of the morning to interact with my field in a new way. All year I've been posting articles on a weekly basis, which has challenged both my creativity and perspective on work and people matters. I've become more public in those views, and participated in a number of panel discussions. It's been gratifying to share what I know about corporate culture with others who care about it too. And yet, I still needed more.
I found a decent solution by doing some side advisor work with a few companies. While I can't fathom walking into someone else's company full time at this point, it is fun to counsel other CEOs and teams on what I've learned over the years, and how it may or may not work in their own environments. By doing so, I've learned two important lessons.
For one, I have always claimed to be a start up junkie. This past year working with a few other companies has solidified that thought. For me, there is a no ego boost that comes from working at a publicly traded company or having a sizable team. I'm far more motivated by the problems I'm getting to solve, and the challenge that comes with a new way of doing things. I'm able to keep pushing those boundaries in my current job, which is largely what's keeping me passionate about being there.
Secondly, I learned that the grass isn't always greener. Every job is frustrating, and there are always going to aspects of it that drive us a little crazy. And yet, in working with other CEOs and other teams - awesome as they might be - I truly appreciate MY team even more. When you work with a team of standouts, and everyone is grabbing a shovel and bringing their best attitude and work, it's pretty hard to consider it's better somewhere else.
So yes, this past month has been very interesting in terms of helping some other companies think through their work. I've made some new friends, and challenged my own thinking along the way. That said, the biggest lesson learned in September is that I'm extraordinarily grateful for what I've got right in front of me.