“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”
― Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
Sunset on Wednesday marked the “Days of Awe,” a time of introspection before the Jewish new year begins.
“It’s a kind of spiritual taking of stock, both regarding what we’ve done in the past and how we’re going to proceed in the future.” I heard this on the radio yesterday morning, early light through my car windows, sitting at a stoplight. A professor of Judaic studies at NYU was explaining the tradition in a story I heard on NPR — and how there’s been a movement to try to connect this practice with modern life. Instead of sitting in the temple, you can now contemplate questions from your inbox. So in a way, technology can replace the temple.
I had no idea what the day held, that the clear-sky morning showed nothing of what was on the horizon: a significant malicious attack on our company’s server; that thousands of users would have their data compromised, and that we would have to come together to deal with the fallout of this situation and the inevitable disclosure of the fallibility of our system.
I took a job with iThemes in 2011. In a way, they rescued me. I still remember the long walks I took those few weeks after I left my first job. I wasn’t sure where I would land, but it had been a leap of faith, the first time I’d ever really asserted my belief that companies should be fair and just and real.
I’d just come out of a situation that had forced me to take action and leave — and the hardest part was holding on to hope, to fight through the long days of uncertainty. I’d just read ‘Let My People Go Surfing,” and I was clinging to the ideals Yvon Chouinard had put forth — things I’d always wanted to believe, deep down. Profits aren’t as important as people. There’s more to life than your career. When it’s high tide, go surfing.
This week, my respect for my boss (and friend), Cory Miller, grew into something a lot more deep and wide. He always gives the entire team the credit when things go right, but this week, he took all the responsibility when everything went very wrong.
I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been at iThemes — but most importantly, that “done” is better than “perfect,” that sometimes you just have to “push publish.” This even applies to admitting mistakes.
Sometimes quick action — that’s not held up in the fear of failure or rejection or criticism — is the best and only way to keep moving forward, and upward.