In my mind, it seems like I move for jobs pretty regularly. In actual practice, it has happened only twice before. In 1994 I moved from Wichita to Miami for the first of a series of telecom jobs. Then in 2000, I moved from Miami to Menlo Park to work for The Very Important Shiny Tech Company.
All the big phases in my life have started with a new job. It has usually been a good thing. The move to California didn’t turn out so hot, but I’m going to hope that was a lone aberration. I know what I did wrong there, and I won’t let it happen again.
I love to work. I love being a major contributor at my workplace. That has in fact come to pass at most of the places I’ve worked in the last 15 years. So it seems odd to me that the primary struggle in my life is finding an employment situation that won’t drive me nuts.
During the interview process, the CEO of the company where I now work asked me something I’ve never been asked before in a professional setting: “What would it take to get you to stay at a job for a long time?” Good question! I’m not all that motivated by money, so long as I’m getting enough to live on. All those jobs that I’ve quit, the ones where I was a major contributor, it was always because the environment became toxic enough that I couldn’t get anything done anymore. I can do the work of four people, given the right circumstances. So when that option is taken away from me, the frustration is four times as great.
My last cycle started with the tech company where I worked here in Nashville, beginning in 2006. That was probably the most paranoid, secretive employer I’ve ever had. I practically had to kill people to force my way into my rightful position as a major contributor, but I finally succeeded. The software I wrote for them is still the centerpiece of their operations, to this day. They keep saying they’re going to replace my old stuff with their shiny new stuff any day now, but their own horrible inertia prevents them from succeeding. It looks a lot like that company is going to fail and be absorbed into their corporate parent.
There’s the social aspect as well. For a time, my coworkers from that job were my peer group. I became disillusioned with them and drifted away. Once I had Steph in my life, I didn’t need to deal with people that were anything less than a perfect fit. That remains true today. She is the one I talk to. Many times, when things are happening to me, I’m already working out in my head how I’m going to tell Steph about it.
So! I’m going to do better this time. Being a major contributor at my new job is already a given. They’ve shown me the big wide swath of their product lineup that I am responsible for. Socially, I have to be more outgoing for awhile. I could finally take up sailing. That was my first choice for an athletic activity when I got to Nashville, but I wasn’t working and couldn’t afford it, so I took up climbing instead. I still like climbing. The you-against-the-rock paradigm suits the way I see myself. But sailing requires coordination and teamwork, which is something I should be striving for. I have to connect with the rest of the world better than I have in the past.