The other night I heard the phrase "in the past decade." It rattled around in my head for awhile and started to really bug me. This entire period - this past decade - an extremely long amount of time - refers entirely to a post-college period of my life. Now, I've been happily married for longer than a decade. My car still serves me well more than a decade later (and still looks pretty good). But to have been out of school for over a decade means a lot of time spent working. And I'm not sure I have enough to show for it. There's a few people where I work who graduated from the same college as me around the same time. I looked at where they'd ended up, coming to work there much sooner after graduation than I. And then I wondered where I'd be if I'd come here much sooner after I graduated. Very quickly, I get my answer. I'd have been fired. I had a lot of learning to do on the job before I got here. Not to say I no longer make mistakes, but I had a few starter careers (the video rental store, the internet startup, the movie studio, the small non-profit) to work out most of my most grievous, fatal errors.
So I just recently got my five year pin. I think I've done quite a bit, but it's all been so hard to quantify. I recently read a Seth Godin post that talked about how you can only make the trains "so efficient." You can't keep going to where the trains are early or that's just as bad as being late. At some point, the schedule's good enough. After that, you have to differentiate. You need to make the trains themselves better - new seating, upgrade the dining car, etc.
And yet I feel myself still trying to get the train more on time. The trains are running fine.