Atoms on “Share the Pain” – We’re in This Together


As Atoms, we’re all in this together. Our value of Share the Pain means we bear each other’s burdens—working together to meet tough deadlines, helping each other move, even taking turns emptying the dishwasher.

I asked atoms, “What does Share the Pain mean to you?” Here’s what they told me.

This is the second post in a series on Atomic’s values, described by the Atoms themselves.

  1. Own it.
  2. Share the pain.
  3. Teach and learn.
  4. Act transparently.
  5. Give a shit.

1. Pulling Together

There’s a lot riding on our projects—for our clients, for the company, and for our own careers. And being an Atomic maker is a difficult job.

Fortunately, we have each other.

When something goes wrong or there’s a tough deadline, we all suffer through it together. My job is not limited to completing my own tasks on-time, but also includes supporting my teammates. We watch each others’ backs. When the project is going well, we’re all doing well. When a project has a problem, we all have a problem.
– Tabitha Blanski

Don’t let others carry a heavy burden alone. If someone needs to work late on you project, step up and help them. Step up and fix something that’s dragging everyone down. Do you part to make things better for everyone and help others feel supported.
– Drew Colthorp

It’s two sides of the same coin—watch for things that are hurting/annoying other people that I might be able to change, and mention to other people what’s hurting/annoying me to see if anyone has ideas.
– Ken Fox


2. Doing the Crappy Jobs

Every project and every business includes frustrating, tedious, and otherwise unpleasant tasks that simply have to get done. At Atomic, those are everybody’s job.

Doing the unwanted, taking one for the team, grinding through the undesirable work to get to the fun stuff. Since we don’t have support staff at AO Detroit it’s also seen during the day-to-day tasks that help make the office more livable: doing the dishes, taking out the trash when it stinks, answering the phone, letting someone up in the elevator, watering the plants, etc.
– Tony Baker

It means taking the time to do what isn’t necessarily my duty or obligation; doing that which someone else ordinarily should do, but couldn’t. Doing all of this without necessarily being asked or prompted. The job gets done; even if not by the assigned or expected person. Clients aren’t left hanging.
– Justin Kulesza

Share the pain, day to day, means doing the work that needs to get done. It means not being above or below any kinds of work, whether it’s mundane or really interesting.
– Julia Jamieson

If a customer arrives and I’m not at my desk, someone steps up to guide them in the right place, offer them something to drink, help them feel comfortable, etc. I see it every day. Lisa and Tabitha help with the phones when I’m gone. I’ve seen Mary shoveling snow on the sidewalk. Matt Fletcher has always rushed to help me empty the dishwasher. Our culture is amazing for sharing the pain.
– Jamie Lystra


3. Getting it Done

Sharing the pain also lets us be more productive because it eliminates red tape and alleviates stress.

I can do or fix something rather than having to find the person who’s “officially” responsible for it. We’re able to do and be done with chores, rather than spending time hunting down the “proper” person for the job.
– Eric Shull

“Share the Pain” means no one flounders alone, and it means we support each other when the going gets tough. This yields more creative – or anyway more successful – results on whatever the immediate problem is, but it also provides a mental health benefit in knowing that your co-workers have your back.
– Will Pleasant-Ryan

Atoms can focus on their work as they know they are not alone in dealing with issues, and that trivial matters are being dealt with.
– Phil Kirkham

Six Words

I also asked everyone to summarize “Share the Pain” in just six words. These are my favorite answers.

  • No one has to struggle alone. – Will Pleasant-Ryan
  • Sharing the pain lessens the pain. – Ken Fox
  • Freedom to take care of it. – Eric Shull
  • No Atom ever goes it alone. – Tabitha Blanski
  • Doing the things that need doing. – Phil Kirkham
  • Step up to the plate; unrequested. – Justin Kulesza


This is the second post in a series on Atomic’s values, described by the Atoms themselves.

  1. Own it.
  2. Share the pain.
  3. Teach and learn.
  4. Act transparently.
  5. Give a shit.