Mike Walsh tagged me in his post 4 Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier as a DBA.
When I look back over my career in IT, I think I have done pretty well. The opportunities and people I needed to meet just seemed to be there for me when I needed them. I often joke that my life is kind of magic. I suppose that it really isn’t magic, and actually networking, hard work, and goal setting are the reasons for my success.
What are some things I have learned? One thing I learned even before working in IT is the importance of customer service. I learned that my customer might be my coworker, my manager, someone in another department, or a client who has engaged my services. This means that I will communicate the progress of the project, either through scrum meetings, emails, or even stopping by my customer’s desk to chat. I will make sure that I understand their requirements and do my best work. I won’t promise things that I can’t deliver, but I will always deliver more than I promise. I understand that I am being paid a very nice wage to do my job, and my customer is going to get their money’s worth.
One thing that I am struggling with is how to handle criticism. When you put yourself out there as a speaker, writer, or trainer, you get a lot of it! For example, I gave a webinar presentation a couple of months ago with over 500 people attending. Not everyone put in comments, but most of the comments received were very positive, either asking a question or stating how much they liked the presentation. One person, though, wrote two paragraphs saying how terrible the presentation was. He didn’t really say what I could do better, just complaints. Was this guy having a bad day? Was he right and everyone else wrong? I still don’t know what to think or how to handle this. I think I am making positive contributions to the community, but maybe I am not.
Another area that many of us struggle with is saying “no” and knowing our limits. I think I am doing a pretty good job with this, and end up saying no to opportunities quite often. For example, I am not going to take on a big side project when I am in the middle of writing a book, and I can’t go to every SQL Saturday even when the organizers personally reach out to me. I still find myself overbooked from time to time and sometimes end up a bit overwhelmed. Going forward, I’ll be working part time, so I will be able to take on more of the projects that I have turned down in the past.
One thing I realized last year is to not turn down opportunities for fun even if they seem expensive. Last year, I didn’t take a week long vacation, but I took several mini-trips. For the most part, I thought of the trip and just decided right then to do it and started making plans. Some of the trips were expensive, but I realized that I will make more money. In IT we work really, really hard and sometimes long hours. We must have some fun once in awhile with our families and friends. It’s easy to get burned out. My kids are grown up, so they are more like friends to me now, but I also have four grandchildren. I make sure that I spend lots of time playing with them. They are small for such a short time.
The things that I have learned and wish I knew earlier:
- Provide stellar customer service
- Don’t dwell on unfair criticism
- Know my limits
- Have some fun