David Heinemeier Hansson at 37signals has been on a roll lately with some great writing. Yesterday he wrote about his life’s work, feeling a connection to firms of old where people worked for 40 years:
Committing myself to this long-term focus has led to a peaceful work atmosphere and an incredible clarity of purpose. If this is the last job I’ll ever have, I damn well better make sure that I like it. I won’t just tough things out. If shit is broken, we’ll fix it now, lest we be stuck with it for decades.
I generally feel that way about the work we do here at Infinity Softworks. If I spent the rest of my life on the idea of figuring out better ways for people to work with numbers, I wouldn’t be upset at all.
Wall Street, generally, has the opposite problem. Since companies are judged every quarter, it is hard to make long-term decisions. The broken stuff doesn’t get fixed because the broken stuff doesn’t help make the fourth quarter numbers.
It helps, of course, that David (like I) helped invent the company he wants to spend the rest of his life working for. He helps pick which projects 37signals takes on, he helps develop the plans and manage the teams. When you pick your own future, it’s a lot easier to love what you do and want to spend a lifetime doing it.