My First Six Months At Lifeblue

by John

As someone who has been lucky enough to experience a reasonable amount of success in my career, I started my time at Lifeblue supremely confident that I would adapt rapidly to working here. I knew that if I just worked hard enough, everything would fall into place for me, much as it always had. The feeling of failure was not something I was anticipating.

Expecting Failure?

During my interview and training at Lifeblue, I was told several times that I should expect to feel like I'm failing for at least the first six months. I was told that this was completely normal and even expected. To be honest, I didn't even come close to believing that. I mean sure, maybe your average person will feel like they are failing for the first six months, but me? Surely, not.

Now, I want to be clear. I don't feel like I'm failing because my peers here at LifeBlue make me feel like I'm failing. I don't feel like I'm failing because I can't do the work that I'm asked to do. I feel like I'm failing because I realize just how much I have to learn and how far I have to go to achieve at the same level as these guys around me. I feel like I'm failing because what I was using to measure success was wrong.

Redefining Value

At Lifeblue we are always challenged to produce 10 times the "value" in half the time. For the longest time I sat around thinking... how in the world can I produce code that is 10 times more elegant, understandable, maintainable in half the time than I'm doing now?

My biggest problem and source of failure was that I was thinking that "value" meant all these ideas of things that made me happy, like crafting the best code possible... of producing code that any developer would marvel at. But that doesn't necessarily translate into value for our clients, and at Lifeblue nothing is more important.

There is a philosophy and a way of doing things at Lifeblue that is really difficult to prepare yourself for. It's more of a framework for making decisions, such as where to spend your time, what does quality mean, how do you make progress on a project and its extremely contextual. On a per client, or per project basis, the ideas of what you should be doing can change dramatically.

It's more art than science, and the only real way to learn the art of something is to jump in and get your hands dirty by actually doing it. Unfortunately, this learning just takes time. During that learning period it does feel like you're failing.

Moving Targets

As weeks turn into months here, you begin to be able to anticipate problems and begin to take action to remedy them in advance. You begin to become more and more confident in your decisions and you find your work improving beyond what you thought you could do.

I don't want to say you have to pay your dues because no one at Lifeblue will make you feel that way. But, moving targets are hard to hit until you learn to predict where the targets will be, and to do that... well, sometimes you just have to pay your dues.

John Fischelli
Button Pusher & Back-End Developer