Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ch-ch-ch changes

The previous year was a year of changes. I worked for three different companies, in three different cities, one of which required me to move 800 miles away. Now, I'm back where I began and I've learned an awful lot and met some truly amazing people.

One of the first things I learned is that there is nothing more important than your family. I missed being able to pick my kids up from school and taking care of them in the afternoons. I also missed the good friends I had made here. I didn't realize how much I had missed them until I moved back.

Second, I learned that going to church is an important part of your spiritual development. Seems obvious, right? Well, I've recently been going to the First United Methodist Church of Wynne and have really enjoyed both the service and the Sunday School. I've been going there with friends, which really helps.

Third, I have learned a lot, technically. I've learned the value of having business people drive functionality and I've learned the value of architecture that is planned over architecture that evolves. I've learned about J2EE, CORBA, networking, TIBCO, and a whole host of other things. I enjoy learning, so that was fantastic.

Fourth, I learned that to be a good team leader, you've got to be able to stand up for those who are working for you. I've had leaders that I really enjoyed at all the companies -- they were all really positive experiences. Each one had a different style, but when it came time to go to bat, they were there to stand up for me.

Fifth, I learned that if you want to stay challenged in a traditionally business IT shop, you need to challenge yourself. It seems the expectations of those places are low and you can easily "just get by." In fact, you can easily descend into madness. But, to truly excel, you have to challenge yourself to come up with innovative ideas to make their software cost less and be more stable. I think more and more the key to good programming is focusing on stability.

Sixth, I learned that I have to make tradeoffs and I'm thankful for the past year because it helped me understand what those tradeoffs are. Right now, I work from home. It allows me to pick up the kids and help out my wife, who drives an hour to work three days a week. However, it also isolates me from communication with others. I really like the office setting where I can talk to an adult when I run into a roadblock, instead of being isolated from everyone. Therefore, I have to realize the need exists and try to assuage it in a different manner. Eventually, I'll go into the office more (at least 2 days per week) and hope that helps. However, right now I'm not working with a team, so going into the office doesn't really help. Nevertheless, spending the last year in two different office environments helped remind me that it can be a lot of fun and that I need to remember to go into the office more when I feel isolated.

Finally, as I head back to my old job, I realize that the reasons I left it are still there. However, after spending a year studying myself and other companies, I'm am in a much better position to adapt so that those things will no longer bother me. Right now I just want to be appreciative of the great gifts that God has given me. I'll worry about the other things later :-)

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