Saturday, January 24, 2009

?: 2008

I'm not really sure how to classify my 2008. It's probably been the best and worst year of my life at the same time. I've tried to let God lead me in everything that I do but I know I always get in the way. I just hope that I've learned something through the trials and mistakes.

The year started with signs of tremendous growth in my business. I hired two individuals at the beginning of the year to double the size of my company to four. We moved out of my house into leased office space and I finally felt as though the company was "real".

By April, I had hired four more individuals and found out that Ashley was pregnant. We had been planning accordingly to have the child around the first of the year. This would allow us to move to her residency with a 6 month old rather than younger. We had a tough lesson in God's timing vs. our own when we found out in early June that Ashley lost the baby. That was a pretty rough patch for us, especially for Ashley. I truly didn't realize the emotional connection that had already formed between mother and child and felt helpless in trying to comfort her.

Around that time, I also had to conduct my first firing of an employee. I knew early on this he wasn't going to work out and I held out months too long because of my fear of performing the action. I truly thought that it was my purpose to lead the employee to be something great and that it his failures were a result of my lack of leadership. I learned a great deal from that experience including the fact that character means more in my employees than any technical skill they may possess. I have also been extremely blessed in all other company hires and would put the Apax team against any other development team in Kentucky.

I struggled over the next three or four months on whether I wanted to continue on the path as business owner. I was working extremely long hours and pouring everything that I had into something that didn't seem like it was improving. I was also enlightened during a mission trip in June to Jamaica about the need around the world and my role in meeting some of those needs. I held on to the business for the simple fact that I had younger individuals with families working for me and I couldn't let them down. I carried that responsibility solely on my shoulders for the next several months and it had a big impact on how I wanted my business to run moving forward.

At the end of the 3rd quarter, I made probably the biggest decision in my company thus far. I merged with one of my vendors to create one company of 20+ employees. We had worked together on several projects already and had shared office space so a merge was the next step in the progression. As of this date, it was probably one of the best decisions that I have made. I was able to officially surround myself with other talented owners and was able to ease the responsibility I was feeling months earlier. I have seen myself step away from daily programming tasks and move to actually leading the company. It's pretty easy to do with the awesome employees that we have and I have been extremely impressed with the amount of growth that I've seen during this year.

The 2nd half of the year was up and down on a personal level as well. In a span of 3 or 4 months, one grandmother died unexpectedly, an aunt who had been fighting pancreatic cancer died, and my other grandmother who had been in and out of the hospital for months died. Those, on top of the baby we had lost earlier, made the year pretty rough. I don't understand why all of these things happened during this one year. Maybe it's something I'll learn one day or maybe I'll never find out why.

Ashley and I also found out towards the end of last year that we're pregnant again. The timing could be better for us, but we learned from our earlier experiences that our timing preferences are insignificant compare to a greater plan. We also began interviewing for residency programs at the end of last year. We know that we'll be leaving Lexington, KY sometime late summer and are anxious for what's in store for us.

So, 2008 had its ups and downs both professionally and personally. I've learned a lot about myself and only hope that I'm able to apply some of the wisdom gained on future challenges.

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