Stephen Lindberg

Product Designer @ Iterable

20 June 2019

Choose people, not projects

It’s normal for people to want to be fulfilled by the activities which they spend the most time doing. Fulfillment is a tricky thing to gauge because it’s highly dependent on the individual, and it can change over time. What is fulfilling to you today might be boring or irrelevant tomorrow. There may also be levels of fulfillment, each level needing to be met in order to feel overall satisfied with work or play.

When I think back over my so-far short career, I don’t really remember the details of projects, like how well-written the code was. I think about the people who I collaborated with, and where they’ve moved on to, and what work they’re doing now.

I’ve never considered myself an extrovert, and in fact I think the dichotomy of introverts/extroverts is contrived, but there does seem to be some anecdotal truth to the notion that some people gain energy from being alone, while some gain energy from other people. Actually, this is absurd, because science tells us that we all get energy from food. It’s a paradox, unless we believe that all extroverts are cannibals. What I am trying to say is that even though I expend mental energy to participate in social activities (and typically need plenty of time to myself afterwards), I consider energy spent with other people a worthwhile investment. If I didn’t, what reason would I have to be here?

My point is that fulfillment has come to me from choosing who to work with, by which I mean choosing specific teams of people, not companies or projects. I set out to find the particular type of people I get along with and want to work with because people have values. Projects don’t have values and companies don’t have values. People do.

So when I am feeling disengaged on a project and fulfillment is eluding me, I will remind myself that the only reason to build anything at all is to share with other people, and it’s important to talk to those people so that I don’t feel alone.