17 Years!

Yesterday marked 17 years at my current job. That number is near to being a lifetime for new employees.

Sigh. I may be feeling old because of that. (And, by may, I mean I am.)

Those 17 years have been filled with lots of ups and a few downs. I look back to when I started and it's amazing to see the changes in the company since then. Technology, business processes, globalization, increased employees, payroll processing, benefits...it's been quite a ride.

I remember when telecommuting was not an option and now it's a standard. One of my first benefits meetings, I heard that birth control wasn't covered but Viagra was. Well, that's certainly changed with the times. We've since acquired operations in Canada, Japan, Denmark and Germany and that's not the end of it; there's more to come.

There are times when I wish we were still the same, small company I started with. My first week, some guy showed up at my cube to welcome me. It was our CEO, Curt, and I'm sure he did that with many new hires. Now, he's traveling across the globe so much that it's a pleasant surprise to see him in the office.

I also used to know pretty much everyone. With telecommuting and being spread across several buildings and countries, I'm lucky to recognize someone's name. Even luckier when I can pronounce them properly.

But, with change came great opportunities. I travelled to Canada 12 times in two years on a long integration project. Because of that, I got to make great friends in our office there and also with the Calgary Parrot Head Club. I've been lucky enough to go to Europe for our Germany projects and have seen many parts of that country in addition to visiting Amsterdam and London.

That travel is not ending either. They're still threatening to send me to Japan but I'm resisting because 1) I will be a massive giant there and 2) I hate sushi and 3) I get lost when signs are in English so I'm doomed if they're not. I really mean that I won't make it back home. Seriously.

I confess, there have been times over the years when I've thought about leaving. But, just when I was about to actively get out there and search, something changed to make it really interesting again and I reengaged.

Another confession, there's another reason I haven't left and it came back to me recently.

One of my colleagues and I were the featured speakers at one of our Sales department's meetings. They've started a Tonight Show format and are inviting people from the company to be guests. Of course, I accepted immediately because...chance to be in the spotlight!

There were some standard questions (How did you get here?, What do you think is your greatest accomplishment at the company?, etc.) then they opened it up to the audience for more questions.

One person asked, "What are you most afraid of?"

That was an immediate answer to me. Failure. I told them it was so much so that I have chosen not to try things in my life because I didn't think I would be successful. I wish I could be fearless but it's just not my nature.

I was at my previous job a few weeks short of 13 years. I remember my first week at this job and I thought I was coming down with something. My stomach hurt and I had a headache and it was only that it would look bad to go home when I had just started that kept me in there.

Looking back, it was easy to identify what was affecting me. Anxiety. I had gone from a job where I knew everything inside and out to one where I knew nothing (at least it felt that way). Of course, I was anxious but I hadn't felt that emotion in so long that I didn't recognize it.

So, those times when I thought about leaving, fear was my overriding decision not to because I had learned most everything inside and out again.

Having said that, that's not what stops me from thinking about leaving now. I really love my job, my colleagues and am proud of the mission of our company.

Even though, just when I get comfortable, something upsets my apple cart like a new acquisition or a major system change and I still feel anxious. I've learned to work through it and appreciate the challenge. But, I don't appreciate the people who don't also appreciate the challenge and drag their heels. They're the worst ;)

So, a longwinded story with a moral. Find a place you love and embrace the change it forces upon you. In the long run, it's all worth it.


Amanda said…
They are lucky to have you Kathy! All the best and congrats on your many accomplishments with SP. it was a pleasure getting to work with you. :)

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