Mike Walsh started a blog titled 4 Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier as a DBA. This was followed by other folks tacking on with their thoughts. I had commented on Mike’s blog with some of my thoughts, but figured I should just post it directly and link off to the thoughts of others as well. While some of the titles may suggest a technical slant, most of these apply to just life in general and any walk of life. These are soft skills and not anything particular to technology or any one career path.
Relationship building is a big soft skill. It helps in numerous ways. You could be the smartest person in the world, but without building relationships, it will be challenging to get places. I see that all the time. It’s not just what you know, but in reality it is also who you know. Personally or professionally. That may sound unfair, or biased, but it is true. My kids are in elementary school, and there was an example my younger daughter shared with me about her day yesterday that echoed that – even at 6 years old.
For some this comes naturally. For others, this is very difficult. For me, I think I’ve naturally done this my whole life looking back. I didn’t realize until more recently that this was what I was doing and how important it was. But this has helped me throughout life in everything I’ve done. If you find yourself struggling with this, there are lots of material out there on the webs to help you. Also, if you feel you are too late to start doing this, you aren’t. Get to it! You never know what is around the corner.
Don’t just show up to some triage, or group meeting once every 6 months (if it is a regular meeting) and expect to be known as the go to person. You need to establish yourself, and to do that, you need to be consistent. Doing things regularly shows that you can be relied on. People will recognize you and will start to utilize you more as they get to know you. This isn’t the one thing that will make everything work for you, but it is really important to get you there. You may be doing everything else right, but if you aren’t doing this, it will be more challenging that it maybe needs to be.
I still struggle with this one in a lot of areas, but I do recognize this is important. I really need to do this more in my home life.
I see a number of people that keep their heads down and do their day to day job/activity. Then they wonder why they aren’t moving ahead, or being asked to do the fun projects, or be that trusted advisor. You need to step out and show what you can do, or are willing to do. Some people may have a fear of this for risk of failing. Failure is a way to learn and you should work on getting past that fear to move forward.
We continue to teach our children this at home. We encourage them to do this at school. Even if you are wrong, you took a chance. Ask questions! Provide your thoughts! Help out with a project! Be a part of the team!
Be a part of the Team
Trying to do things on your own can be challenging. One thing I’ve loved about the team I work with at Microsoft is the ability to Rally when we need to. I’ve been a part of some challenging cases that required the work of a bunch of people to get things done, across many days/weeks around the clock. There have been an upwards of 10-20 of us all working together to get it done and releave others. Even when that isn’t your area of strength, you can help. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the leader of a team. It just mean helping others around you to work towards a common goal. I’m as much of a follower as I am a leader in things. Even as a leader, I want to listen and, in some cases, follow others as it may be a better path then what I had first thought. We can draw on each other to get a better outcome than what would have been done otherwise by one person.
Depending on your situation, this may be difficult. The culture where you work, or participate in, my encourage an individual mindset instead of a team mindset. Even in an individual mindset, you may still be able to find way to show that you can help others without sacrificing where you are, or putting yourself in jeopardy.
Links to others thoughts:
Mike Walsh – 4 Attitudes I Wish I Had Earlier as a DBA
Tim Mitchell – Four things I wish I’d known back then
Erin Stellato – What I Wish I Had Known Sooner…as a DBA
Brent Ozar – What I Wish I Knew Sooner as a DBA
Tim Costello – 4 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner as a BI Consultant
Chris Yates – What I Wish I Had Known Sooner…as a DBA
Kathi Kallengerger – What I Wish I Knew Sooner