Seven years ago today was my very first day as a full time Automattician. According to our internal stats, there are 91 current employees hired before me, and 1,058 hired after me. I remember when I started that a 5-year anniversary seemed quite unusual and special. My intention was to be around forever, but it was still somehow intimidating to see other people start to rack up anniversaries. And yet, here we are! Seven years on, and going strong.
My life has changed for the better, being an Automattician. I have a healthy work/life balance, I get to do work that I find challenging and rewarding, and I contribute to a company with a mission and creed that mean a lot to me.
I’ve also learned enough to have evolved my mindset. I find myself a more careful and flexible thinker. I have strong processes, loosely held. I appreciate a good routine, and don’t hesitate to revisit and revise it. I also find myself thinking for myself more, rather than blinding accepting or rejecting concepts or ideas — I think I was ok at this to start, but I’ve definitely gotten better. I have also cultivated my “let’s get this toast” side (i.e., “I may not yet have all the details, but I trust you so let’s get moving and we’ll figure it out as we go”), which is fun, freeing, and a really great way to build knowledge fast.
I’ve learned a lot about people, too. Since my trial here I’ve been struck by how you get to know the way a person thinks and decides, long before you know how they talk or walk, or even look (we have since moved to using video chat much more than we used to, so I do have a passing understanding of what people look like at this point). It’s a marvelous atmosphere for basing confidence on merit, on actual action, on fixed results. I’ve also been able to routinely interact with a wide variety of people-types. I live in a small town, in a rural area, so there’s a lot of homogeneity here. At Automattic, I get the benefit of having my own biases challenged and tweaked, so if I can’t remove them, I can be aware of them. I also get the luxury of being able to form friendships (or at the very least cordial working relationships) with many more types of people, in many more types of circumstances than I would if I worked in a traditional office environment. It’s a wonderful thing.
I’ve had the chance (and excuse) to be exposed to some great thinking, both within the company itself, and through things the company offers (including training and our annual GM). I’ve had the opportunity to become more comfortable with large concepts and to accept where the limits of my understanding lie, and not to find those limits as blockers, but a boundary to be explored.
All of which can be exhausting! I’ve also learned to stop, to let things go, and to rest. Rejuvenation is essential to any personal evolution; just like in exercise when you need to take a rest day (even if you feel you could power through), resting your ever-growing mind is also important. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and that might mean knowing when to shift focus, or finding a new (harder?) challenge. But sometimes it means turning off your computer and taking the long way home.
Once, seven years felt like a long time. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s gone by in a blink. It’s only the start of my career here. I look forward to the rest of it, whatever it may mean, and whatever I may learn.