As many of you know, 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates. Coincidentally, it also marks my 10-year anniversary of working with KOMA. Beyond just being kind of a cool overlap, the intersection of these two milestones has me thinking about both moving forward and looking back.
When I started at KOMA in 2000, I was basically fresh out of college. I’d interned at the firm, but my “real-life” architecture experience wasn’t terribly deep. I was green. I had a good education, a solid set of skills and an in-depth understanding of architectural facts and concepts, but – like most of the recently graduated – I lacked some of the context that comes from working on real jobs in real situations.
Looking back I find myself both smiling and shaking my head at the challenges of those days … challenges that, over time, I’ve learned to handle instinctively. I also find myself wondering how the firm’s partners – Jim Krech, Dan O’Brien and Brady Mueller – knew that I had enough of “it” to be a successful architect. They somehow saw something in me then that I’m not sure I saw in myself.
I’ve heard Dan talk about the first days of KOMA, and how he and Jim “were just kids” when they started the firm in 1985. That’s exactly how I feel about my early days here … like I was just a kid, learning everything for the first time. I’m sure that, 10 years from now, I’ll look back at 2010 and say the same thing.
But all these significant dates and reflections remind me of the importance of a couple things … things that, in the crush of deadlines and day-to-day life, I sometimes forget. One, challenges are a good thing … they force you to reach and to stretch and to grow. And two, enjoy the moments – challenges, frustrations and all – because, before you know it, 10 years have gone by.
Both points are driven home to me on a daily basis here at work, but also as I head home to my wife and 18-month old daughter, Josephine. The truth is that, early on, I felt incredibly unprepared for the challenges Josie threw my way. But as each issue arises and is dealt with, I’m gaining knowledge, skills and perspective (all of which will, hopefully, serve me well when child number two arrives early next year). The trick, of course, is to handle the issues and retain the knowledge while still finding time to take a breath and appreciate each little moment. Believe me, the thought of my daughter turning 10 years old … well, it about moves me to tears.
And maybe that’s really at the heart of what’s been on my mind during these late months in 2010 … that time goes fast and that, challenges or smooth-sailing, I’d better find time to register the moments. The fact is that I love my work and don’t want to miss a moment of it. And I love my family and don’t want a single second to get away from me. And forgive me if it sounds a little cliché, but 18 months – or 10 years, or 25 years – can go by pretty fast.
Just ask Jim, Dan and Brady.