Aug 30

Staying busy…

Staying busy… the declaration of a frustrated individual

So today as I was going through my project list I realized that sometimes I get so caught up in busy work that I forget about the proverbial “learn something new every day” that my dad pushed me towards every day he was alive.

I sometimes feel like I’m always re-learning the same things and I’ve started to worry that everything I’ve forgotten over the years is catching up to me. I’ve even had crazy dreams that obviously relate to the sometimes insecurity that even those of us who have been doing this for 15+ years runs into seemingly all the time.

I’m sure all of the current frustration has been due to just one of my projects, a Lync 2013 deployment that has been going on for a month or two now. In lab and in class everything is always so much easier than the real world. In the real word we have issues like proxy and firewall problems mixed with certificate errors and just plain topology differences that make things hard to remember without checking through exhausting pages of notes. Even then all it takes is one minor misstep and now you have to go back and triple check what you’ve already triple checked twice. I’ve beat my head against the wall, walked away from my monitor, moved onto other projects, fought to clear my head, and came back to try again.

Realistically, I know that this is only just a project and eventually everything will line up and then be forgotten about until the next problem arises with something else. It’s just part of being a network engineer and even a computer person in general. With that being said, it reminds me of one of the first things I mentor to new hires, and one of the things it took (and still sometimes takes me) the longest to embrace even after all the years it was repeated to me by my father. It’s become my mantra and it’s so simple we forget it.

badsmiley“You are only one person and you will only be able to do what you can do in the time you’re given every day.”

I’ll get in trouble! – This will look bad if I don’t get it done! – I’ve got all these other projects that have to be done too! – Everyone is calling me and asking when this will be done! – I’m behind schedule! – I can’t handle this pressure!

Sound familiar? Yeah it does to me too. The thing is, it is up to us as individuals to communicate our limitations to those around us as well as our supervisors, managers, significant others, kids, but mostly ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even know our own limitations and it’s nice to be surprised when things go perfectly. When it comes down to it, we get frustrated because we have conditioned ourselves to always go faster, be better, do things quicker, become “that guy” that everyone depends on. When we sometimes don’t live up to that expectation of ourselves we get angry, frustrated, and beat ourselves up. I don’t think I’m the best co-worker or family member to be around when that happens… I’m sure if we’re all honest, none of us are.

Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at things in perspective. I know for myself, I’ve got experience in a LOT of areas outside of my primary network administration life. Windows server administration, AIX, *nix, project management, security, the list goes on. If you ask me if I know anyone who is better at any of those than I am, the answer is absolutely.

With that being said, no matter how much others know or even how much we know as individuals, most of us could not do our jobs if we did not have the experiences of others (and google) to fall back on when we get stuck. Luckily I’ve been in a position over the years to help others just as much as they’ve helped me. I appreciate so many people in my life, and am thankful for my dads advice over the years. He always told me to learn something new every day, and I’ve expanded that include teaching as well.

So feel free to prepend this revised project list to your daily routine.

1. Learn something new.
2. Teach something new.
3. Communicate your limitations.
4. Step back and let others help when you are stuck.
5. Realize you’re only one person and remind yourself daily that you can only do so much.

Prioritize these five things every day and how can you be frustrated when you’ve already accomplished so much?