One of my biggest complaints about being an independent consultant for so many years was that it was a significant effort to find the type of cooperative and competitive peer environment in which my skills could be tested, my guidance could be questioned and I could be pushed to continually better myself. When you're a "lone wolf" you have to rely on yourself to push yourself, and that can be quite a challenge sometimes...
But I've just finished up a meeting with the architectural board (which is actually a preparatory meeting for another higher-pressure meeting tomorrow morning ;-) where I was surrounded by bright, assertive and vocal people all presenting ideas, arguing them, shooting them down, backing them up and basically all pushing each other.
And I love it!
It's still weird not being my own boss (and my own everything) but I'm so happy that I took my new job.
And that's a great feeling.