This last week I had the insane pleasure and fortune to spend quality time with the US Navy’s TOPGUN program and pilots (yes, the real thing). As part of an at the TOPGUN training facility, we listened to Maj. Gregory N. “Mongo” Stroud talk about his engagement with a MiG during the first Gulf War. At the end of his talk, Maj. Stroud made a point of telling the young(er) participants in the TOPGUN program that this truly is the best time they will ever have – the camaraderie, the importance, and meaningfulness of their work, their dedication, and passion.
His comments were celebrated by standing ovations and reminded me of my little version of this – the time when I built my first company and slept nights on end under my table (literally); the late nights we pulled at eBay’s Platform Solutions Group to create the dominant E-Commerce platform in Germany or the long days digging into some arcane technical issue to build the latest prototype at Mozilla Labs.
I believe you can create these environments – and it is worth chasing them. I know I did and continue to do as I have never been happier at work than when I am in the zone with my team. However, I also know that these moments are fleeting. People move on; organizations get bigger, priorities shift.
This all being said – if you are currently in an environment which is your version of TOPGUN: Fantastic. Enjoy every minute of it and make it last as long as possible. But also know that it will change – and when it does (or it already did), don’t give up chasing and creating it. As these are truly the best times, you ever have.