Closing a Door

Today, February 19th marks my final day of employment at Cerner Corporation. I’ve spent just under a year here as a member of the Online Marketing team. Like I blogged previously, I am leaving the company to take what is in many ways a dream job for me: Community Manager at AMC. I’ve received an outpouring of support from my wife, my family, close friends, my church, the readers of this blog, my followers on Twitter and my friends on Facebook. Even the people that I work with at Cerner have been amazingly supportive (despite now having a rather large awesomeness void to fill) and they know how well-suited I am for this position and how much I’m looking forward to it.

All told, I’m really overwhelmed by the support that people have given me.

And as easy of a decision it may have seemed from the outside, you should know that I struggled at times. See, despite what everyone says, Cerner is a really good place to work. I wasn’t really actively searching for this position. In a lot of ways, it found me. But when your dream job comes knocking, you open the freaking door.

Unfortunately, that meant that I had to close a door at Cerner. During a time of uncertainty last year, I was given an amazing opportunity to join a great team at an industry-leading company that is poised to have a huge next several years. And not only that, but I got to do work that I was proud of, that I was good at, and that I enjoyed:

  • I worked on the team that launched uCern, Cerner’s collaboration platform for its clients and partners.
  • I led the social media efforts for the company during their annual health conference last October.
  • I helped write the best practices for all Cerner associates as they get engaged in new social, collaborative platforms and channels.
  • And most recently, I’ve been able to work on another large web initiative with some of my professional design and development idols, Happy Cog Studios.

It was that work that made my experience different than the one that had been described by all the friends I worked with at Perceptive Software that had left Cerner with a sour taste in their mouths. My experience was very positive. I worked with smart people on great projects and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s true that Cerner expects the best out of its associates, but that’s one of the keys to their success. Having an open mind when I was hired gave me the right expectation.

To all my Cerner friends, I salute you. You made going to work enjoyable and rewarding. To the Online Marketing team — Sara, Jake, David, Lance and Jason — keep crushing it. You guys have been a blast to work with. If it were any other position at any other company, I would not be leaving.

But as they say…”it is what it is…”

Old sweatshirts and silverware

I have this sweatshirt that used to be my favorite article of clothing.

I wore it all the time in college because it defined who I was. On the front, it says: “GRACELAND VOLLEYBALL” in traditional college capital letters. It’s gray with navy writing — an unremarkable sweatshirt, but it was my favorite. It was comfortable and I loved it.

I haven’t worn that sweatshirt in at least 5 years.

It’s not that I lost it. I know exactly where it is.

It’s not that it doesn’t fit me anymore. It does, even though it’s a little more snug than it used to be.

I just doesn’t define me anymore.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I will always treasure the time I spent as a member of the Graceland Men’s volleyball team. It was an important part of my life and the friends that I made are still a big part of my life. They always will be. But as time has put its distance between me and that time of my life, the sweatshirt has been replaced by a 3-button navy pullover sweater from Old Navy. That’s my go-to item for comfort these days.

Sweatshirt and Silverware

As I was emptying the dishwasher today, I was looking at our silverware. Next summer we will have been married for 10 years and the silverware we chose is still perfect. It’s practical and sturdy and works both for everyday use and for nicer occasions.

What was it about the silverware that made us realize that we’d still love it 10, 20, 50 years from when we got married? It’s classic and it isn’t fussy or fancy and I guess that’s kind of what Alli and I try to be in our relationship.

All of us have things in our lives that are like the sweatshirt and the silverware. Things like the sweatshirt are meaningful to us at a specific time and they remind us of good times, but their importance wanes. My volleyball sweatshirt shaped me quite a bit more than the silverware did personally. But the silverware will be around longer and probably be more functional to me over time.

A lot of relationships in our lives can fall into one of these two categories. Some are like a comfortable sweatshirt — keeping us warm and giving us identity, but they have an expiration date. Others are unassuming and functional like silverware — constant and sturdy and long-term. Both are important to us for different reasons. An interesting sidebar is that the close friends I’ve made through volleyball…they are examples of the sturdy silverware in my life.

It’s funny what you think about when you unload the dishwasher.

Relationship Advice

Today, People Magazine posted a story online (I got the link from CNN, I swear) in which Vanessa Hudgens (she of High School Musical fame) shares the “secret to her great relationship with co-star Zac Efron.”

There are so many things wrong with this story, but I’d like to tackle her “secret.”

“If you really love someone, you shouldn’t have to work at it,” the actress tells Cosmo Girl! for its July/August issue, reports Entertainment Tonight. “You finish each others’ sentences and have the same sense of humor.”

First of all, it should be assumed that we all know this is a 19-year-old talking about the secret of her great relationship with her 20-year-old co-star. It’s beyond ridiculousness. Hudgens and Efron have been dating since October of 2007. For those of you that are bad with math, that’s less than 12 months.

While a great relationship should not feel like work, you still have to work at it. If I’m going to take a celebrity’s sage advice about relationships, I’ll stick with my boy Will Smith who said:

Will and Jada Smith with son Jaden on the red carpet at the Oscars

“Counseling, individual learning, books, conflict resolution,” Smith confided. “It is a full time job to try and be happy. People tend to think that they can go to work for 50 or 60 hours a week and then come home and their relationship is just supposed to work.”

That’s the truth. Why would you spend less time working at your relationship than you do on your career? I know that People’s business is selling magazines and driving traffic to their site, but it’s really irresponsible for them to prop up this lackadaisical attitude toward relationships, especially from a teenage pop star who has been in her supposed “serious” relationship less than a year.

Over the past several months, Alli and I have been doing some pre-marital counseling for a couple that I will be marrying in late July. It’s been a terrific experience because out of all the things I’m good at, I think I’m probably best at being married. It’s not a skill that will necessarily lead to a long, illustrious career, but it sure makes my life a lot more enjoyable.

One of the things that I’ve found is a constant in the couples that I look to as relationship mentors in my life is that if you want to make a relationship or a marriage work, you should work harder at your relationship than you would in your career. When you do, it won’t feel like work. You’ll be happier, your significant other will be happier, and you’ll find that working at a relationship can be the most rewarding thing that you’ll ever do. If I had but one piece of advice to give to couples, that would be it.

That, and don’t get relationship advice from 19-year-olds in People Magazine.