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for the love of the game

5 minute read
by Alex Hillman

“We’re a community of workers, unified by the fact that we all make a living doing things that we love” – Dave Speers

I consider myself lucky that I really, really enjoy the work that I do. Recently, my passion has been poured into the coworking project, Independents Hall, and being involved in various other community building events. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I had to force myself to return to reality and face the facts…in order to pay the bills, Alex Hillman is a developer.

Coming back from Orlando I faced a of the most daunting piles of work I’ve ever felt myself under (far worse than any string of exams I felt while still in school). To be fair, the pile was my own fault. I hadn’t done a very good job of ramping things down right before swinging into “IndyHall Mode”, where I spent most of August and September. But, I had committed to clients, who had paid for services, and I was definitely pushing the limits of the relationships I have with my clients.

On the record, THANK YOU, to all of the clients I have that were patient and proud of the stuff we did with IndyHall, and understanding while I got back in the saddle and found my way back into my development routine.

That said…2 weeks of hell, 18+ hour days, juggling stacked and overdue deadlines (again, all my own fault)..and there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. If I could bottle the refreshing feeling I had as I started crossing things off my to-do list, and sell it, I would. I’m pretty sure that the government would make it a controlled substance, it because the feeling was that good. Ahem. Anyway.

I realized something. These working conditions I put myself under were taking away from one important part of what I did. I develop, because I love to. I was developing these projects, because I HAD to, and the situation I got myself into was leading me towards a burnout. Understanding that my commitments and promises are what drive business and growth, and my loyal customers could have left weeks ago but instead stuck it out with me, helped. But emotionally…the realization that I wasn’t enjoying myself was a little damaging. I did not want to burn out this quickly at doing something that I enjoy so much.

Then, one week ago today, a screenshot came across my desk from one of the sharpest interface designers I know, Amy Hoy. At the top of that screenshot, I saw this:

My good friend Gary Vaynerchuk, recently soaring into the stratosphere with his 300+ episodes of a wine-tasting video podcast, was staring me in the face from the “laid back friday” couch and pointing at me as if to say, “yo man, this one’s for you”. Amy asked if I knew anyone who could build this out for a wordpress template for Gary’s new side project, and something in me said “you’ve got other stuff to do, but this one will be good for your soul”. So I agreed to spend last Saturday banging out this template.

I’m still not 100% sure what about this project set it apart, and realistically, it was only about 3 hours of work, but it was able to zero me out. I didn’t do it because I had to, I did it because I wanted to. Yesterday, I spent part of my afternoon with Gary and WLTV Producer Erik Kastner, at the Wine Library (holy crap, you have to go the place is nuts) talking about some of the things clunking around in my head. We’ll see what materializes from those conversations, I think it’s some good stuff.

I guess the whole reason I started this post was to stress the need to do things that you love. It’s energizing, and it’s healthy. I remember being in grade school and having assigned reading and pleasure reading. At the time, assigned reading may have been something from a composition book, or a textbook…but either way I read it because I had to. On the other side, I’d pick up something I wanted to read (at the time, I remember R.L. Stein “Goosebumps” series was a popular choice).

The act of reading was the same. Eyes scanning pages for letters forming words forming sentences, paragraphs, pages, and ultimately some story. But the book I picked, I had an emotional gratification from. I think this goes for the work I do, too. The act of building out this page for Gary was no different, but seeing Gary’s site live was a different reaction than I had to any of the other project’s I’ve wrapped in the last few weeks.

So where does this realization leave me? Well, I’m still processing that. I’ve got some exciting new things on the horizon, opportunities and events. I have a dream that is being realized day by day. I have some of the best friends in the world that I’m so happy are around for all of this, and many more friends that I’ve made because of the events of the last several months. I’m glad that I have them to turn to at this point in my life as I’m putting all of the pieces together and figuring out the next move. Big or little, something’s brewing.

The only thing that’s certain is that I’m going to love it.

update: seems gary and i were reading each others thoughts and he did his 120 second video today on a very similar topic, his “big picture patch“. A good reminder to put things into perspective, no matter your situation.

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Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.