I was exchanging e-mails with an old friend today, and started talking about my experiences and how I've changed since I started working where I am now. Hey, no better time to make a blog entry! :)
I'll be the first to admit that I've spent way too much time coasting and resting on my laurels the last few years, and I seriously regret it now. Hindsight, right? If I had a nickel for every time I've thought, "If only I had learned about this a few years ago", or "If only I had read up on that", I'd be, well, maybe not rich, but I'd have quite a bit more money than I do now. ;) The difference between today and a year ago, or 2 years ago, or.... is that I've realized that if I want to get where I want to go, I have to get there myself, that I can't rely on others to help me get there, and I have to be able to show beyond a shadow of a doubt why I'm better than everyone else. I had often said in interviews that my goal was to be "one of the best". I think I've finally figured out how to actually get there instead of just talk about it and think that what I've done in the past will help me achieve that goal.
The company I'm at right now is the first place in a long time where I don't want to screw off rather than work, or give a half-hearted effort, or openly question my manager and/or upper management and their decisions. I've been given challenging work, have been learning more than I ever thought I would about Active Directory and all sorts of related things, and have been able to take pride in my work. Also, to get not only private but public kudos from my supervisor and manager (who then relay those up the management chain, where my contract extensions are approved :D ) has really driven me.
I really think I've matured professionally since starting here, but I know I have a ways to go still. No longer am I the cowboy who goes off and just does things or makes changes because I think they're a good idea. I'm the one now who tries to reign in the cowboys. Now, instead of briefly reading about something and going off half-cocked trying to use it, I research. I learn. I plan. I learn. I test. I learn some more. I look at new technologies with an eye towards how they can improve what is in place in production, not just as something I can say I've learned about and used in a lab. I've found sources of information that just overwhelm me with how much sheer knowledge can be obtained by digging into and reading them.
Now, I just need to maintain this momentum and keep moving forward. My goals remain the same - to be one of the best, and to work for Microsoft. Now, hopefully, I have the tools to make it happen.