Why do I enjoy working for myself so much?

Posted On December 2, 2009

Filed under philosophy
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While sitting on my meditation cushion this morning this very question crossed my mind.  Like a “good” meditator, I  let it roll thought my consciousness and not get too attached to it.  A little while longer here it comes again.  I took this as a sign that it might be time to chew this over so I did.  This blog posting is the result of that analysis.

A little background is in order here for those new to my world.  I’ve been doing software/web development for 10+ years now and have worked with many companies, big, small, startup, established and everywhere in between.  One company I even worked at twice, returning after a small stint working remotely for another company that was full of folks from a previous employer.  Everyone that I have worked with at these companies has been a good person; some I got along well with personally and others not so well but that’s the way it is.  Along this path I have learned many different technologies and methodologies for developing software.

Another part of my life is a study, practice and teaching of the ancient tradition of Yoga.  Yoga has been part of my life for almost as long as technology has been a part of my life.  The yogic path has been just as exciting and event filled as my technology path, filled with many good people, many good schools of yoga and many teachings that have help shape the person I am today.

In September 2008, I decided that it was time for me to strike out on my own as a independent developer and started Samyama Technology Solutions, LLC (www.samyamatech.com).  My purpose was to allow me work to merge the two parts of my life, to practice applying the teaching of Yoga to the technology world to serve my clients and myself.  I just didn’t feel like I was able to do that while working within another company because it always seemed like the culture of my employer trumped my desire for that merger, almost like I was swimming upstream in the corporate river.

Here we are just over a year later and I have to say that the answer to the question of “Why do I enjoy working for myself so much?” is because the fundamental direction (or dharma for you yogis out there) of my employer and myself are in line.  You might be saying to yourself “Duh silly since you are your employer and the only way for them to be different would be for you to have a split personality”.

A couple of months ago I would have thought that working for myself was the only way both my direction and my employers direction would be in line.  In the past couple of months I have been exposed to the Ruby on Rails world (coming from a PHP/.Net world previously) and have found some people/organizations/beliefs that now make me rethink the idea that working for myself is the only way for this alignment to happen.  I now feel that there are companies/people/systems out there that I could work with/for as an employee and still be able to continue my goal of combining the two parts of my world.

No it’s not those previous companies/people were doing anything wrong.  It’s just that their way of doing business didn’t align with the direction that my life was going.  I was spending too much energy trying to “fit in” and that was taking a toll on me.  I wish them all the luck in their endeavors and I am sure that many of them will be successful.

Thank you to all of those companies/people who have given me the opportunity to get to where I am today and thank you to all of those “new” people who have shown me that some day in the future I may be once again part of a team of people moving in the same direction in a corporate culture.

A big shout out to the folks at 37Signals (www.37signals.com) for being so open with their philosophies on business and development/design.  Another big shout out to the whole Ruby on Rails community for being an inspiration and mentor as I begin my journey down the Rails track.  I’m hooked and look forward to a long, fruitful career doing Rails development.  They have really taken the mantra of “developer happiness” from Ruby and made it evident in Rails, both from a code perspective as well as a culture.

I am sure that there are many other folks out are just as inspirational so I ask you to define your direction/dharma as a developer and a person and seek out those that help you become better at both.

Mike (@mikegehard on Twitter)

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