It’s the last day of a long contract. For me the measurement of the quality of a contract is how much I grew. I grew a lot over the last 17 months, but I’m not certain how much of it I can attribute to the actual work I performed there.
However, I have to give credit to a small number of the people I met there who were a catalyst for my desire to learn more. I’ve heard this a lot lately. Be a catalyst. Like foreplay, it’s easy to do, but few do it well or often.
Most of my growth is simple personal growth driven by my own desire to get better. I think this would have happened regardless of where I was working. I worked on technologies outside of work. I read books outside of work. I attended conferences outside of work. Most of the growth I acheived happened outside of the contract work-place, but without interactions with these catalyzing people, I never would have been stimulated to acheive as much.
Being a catalyst can be something as simple as casually mentioning new technologies or theories to your fellow programmers. It can be taking initiative on a proof-of-concept. Many of these things propel others in a new direction or change their views in a way that is productive.
On this particular project there were few people who were inspiring or catalysts, but those that were had great impact. These people weren’t catalysts always in the context of work. Many times they were catalysts while getting coffee or having lunch. These are the people you want to be surrounded by because they stimulate the parts of your brain that are dying to be brought forth.
In the midst of a culture that tirelessly worked to push everyone down to the lowest-common denominator (and it was low), there were these few people who in their own unique ways breathed some life into an otherwise meaningless project and environment that resembled an episode of “The Walking Dead.”
I’m going to name a few of them: Sean Walker, Glen Bryan, Bryan Gertonson and Jason More. Not only were these guys smart and talented, but they had personality. It takes personality to be a catalyst. I meet smart guys all the time with the personality of a coffee mug and they are not catalysts. They make you wish someone would fill them up with some methamphetamines or bad crack just to make them interesting.
So now I’ve mentioned some of the significant people who were catalysts on my project in the same paragraph as catalysts that are addictive drugs. It’s the yin-yang of chemical addiction. You can be addicted to drugs to stimulate your brain and ruin it or you can be addicted to wonderful minds that make the chemicals in your brain that are associated with creativity, passion and laughter, overflow on a regular basis.
These people are my drugs and I can’t wait to be catalyzed again soon.
*shout-out to H. Alan Stevens for being a catalyst at “That Conference.”